How To Build Your Very Own Self Watering Herb Garden

Herb gardens are great for a number of reasons. They provide an ongoing supply of delicious pesticide-free herbs for cooking, they can reduce waste by helping you to avoid plastic wrapped herbs from the supermarket, and they are economical and fun to grow!

As a self-proclaimed 'green thumb', I have on occasion been stricken with discontentment after coming home from a short trip and discovering that all my beautiful herbs have deceased. This discontentment was enough to send me on my way to find a solution to the age-old problem: How can I keep my herbs alive?

If you are someone who A) forgets to water your plants B) travels often, and is therefore unavailable to water your plants daily, C) has a strong desire to save water or D) like me: adheres to all of the above, you can find sanctuary in the fact that self watering pots exist, and they're really easy to make.

So, how does a self watering pot work?

The science behind a self watering pot is relatively simple. Rather than evaporating, water from a plant's runoff is stored and re-absorbed into your plant's soil. For it to work, it requires two things: a water reservoir and a wick. A reservoir at the bottom of your pot collects water after each watering. The reserved water is then gradually absorbed back into your plant's soil via the wick. The wick is placed in the reservoir and acts as a passageway for water to travel from the reservoir to your plant's soil.

What you need:

1 large bucket or large deep bowl Make sure it does not have drainage in the bottom.

Rocks or large stones

1 small plastic planter pot with holes poked around the circumference (You can also use the bottom half of an unused plastic bottle. This will act as your pot's wick to draw water from the reservoir to the roots of the herbs).

1 large piece of hessian or loosely woven fabric (The size of the hessian will depend on your bucket's size, however when draped over your bucket, the hessian should dangle over the edges).


Herbs of your choice (Make sure that your herbs are compatible for growth in the same pot)

How to do it:

  1. Place rocks evenly throughout the bottom of the bucket. This area will become the pot's water reservoir.
  2. Make a well in the middle of the rocks.
  3. Place the planter pot in the well so that it touches the bottom. The top of the pot should be in line with the rocks. Add or remove rocks if the pot is too tall or too short.
  4. Lay the hessian over the rocks and press the centre of it into the planter pot.
  5. Place soil in the well that you have created inside the planter pot.
  6. Flatten the hessian across the rocks and press into the edges of the bucket to ensure no rocks are visible, then start filling the bucket with soil.
  7. Fill until the bucket is approximately ⅔ full and then plant your herbs.
  8. Fill remaining soil and gently pat down to secure herbs.

Now it's time to water your herbs! When watering, the runoff water will collect in the reservoir and gradually soak into the wick, meaning your soil will remain moist for longer. Be wary of over watering your herbs though. If the water reservoir overflows, the roots of your herbs may begin to rot. The amount of water your herbs require will depend on where they are positioned, whether it be indoors or outdoors, how much sun they are exposed to and what type of herbs they are. If you're planting your herbs indoors, consider these four easy-to-grow indoor herbs and make sure to check out this genius cheat sheet for growing vegetables.

Read next: How to grow your urban herb garden in the shade

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