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22 Gallon Self Wicking Barrel  RSS feed

Posts: 199
Location: The Arkansas Ozarks
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I am sharing the process for building these self wicking barrels which I used successfully last year to grow 2 to 3 large tomato plants each, 3 or more pepper plants, beans, peas, etc.  The reservoir is about 5 gallons of water so it does not need water more than every other day.

Bill of Materials
1) 22gal. Feed Bucket
6') black plastic drain pipe
12") 1"PVC pipe
1) 1" PVC female NPT to glue connector
1) 1" PVC male NPT to glue connector
1) 1" PVC glue "L"
Rebar wire
Landscape Fabric
Optional - duct tape
Small tube of silicon caulk or PL400/ liguid nails glue

Tools needed
1-1/4" spade bit
3/16" or 1/4" bit
Utility knife
Linemans pliers or pliers and a side cutter
Small hand saw
Optional - pvc pipe cutter
Utility knife
Tape measure
Large adjustable wrenches or channel lock pliers to fit PVC fittings

Planting Material
2-3 gal. of sand
Potting material of your choice, needs to be friable so it will wick


1) The first photo shows the bucket with a drain installed.  It is 1" PVC, and I drill a 1-1/4" hole near the bottom of the bucket.  In this size hole, the male threaded adapter will thread into the plastic bucket from the outside of the bucket.  On the female adapter use the hand saw to cut off the back 5/16" to 3/8" of the glue side.  This well become a washer to slip onto the male threads.  Put glue or caulk on the threads (be generous) and around the interface to the bucket.  Then thread the female adapter onto the male and tighten.

2) Cut the 1" PVC pipe into a 6", 2", and 4" pieces.  Cut one end of the 6" piece at roughly a 45° angle.  Also drill the 1" pipe with several 1/4" or 3/16" holes (as shown in the second photo).  Insert the 2" and 4" pieces into the "L", and insert the assembly into the adapter in the outside of the bucket a dowrn in the photo.  This is the drain.  The water level in the bucket can be adjusted by rotating the external pipe assembly.
Take the long angled pipe with the holes settled and cut a small piece of cloth and either duct tape it onto the pipe or use a piece of rebar wire to hold the cloth in place.  Insert the pipe with cloth into tube adapter on three inside of the bucket (as shown in the third photo).

3) Preparation of water reservoir pipes.  Cut the drain pipe into 2) roughly 22" pieces and 2) 14" pieces and make sure they cut into the bottom of the bucket.  Cut down the pipes to adjust as necessary.   Cut 8 pieces of landscape fabric, approx. 10" x 10".  Cut 8 pieces of rebar wire 16" long.  Form them around the pipe so they are roughly circular in shape (as shown in the fourth photo).  With the lineman pliers or abother pair of pliers twist the wire together to hold the square of landscape fabric on the end of each pipe.  To the end of one of the longer pipes cut an X slit in the end so that the drain can go through the X (as per the fifth and sixth photos).  This keeps the sand from filling up the pipes.

4) The seventh photo shows the completed plumbing system of the planter.  The pipes will be surrounded with sand.  Between the sand and the pipes, the reservoir will hold approximately 5 gallons of water, but can be adjusted by the angle of the external drain.  The reason for filling the bae with sand is that it can quick but well not turn rancid because it does not contain organic material.

5)  This was a planter that I put together as a quick nursery for a recent comfrey purchase.  In a future posting, I will show photos of a watering tube and worm feeding tube in they middle of the planter, for localized feed production.
[Thumbnail for 1-Bucket-showing-drain-assembly-.png]
Bucket showing drain assembly
[Thumbnail for 2-Bucket-showing-complete-drain.png]
Bucket showing complete drain assembly
[Thumbnail for 3-Interior-drain-with-cloth-filter.png]
Interior drain with cloth filter attached
[Thumbnail for 4-Wire-Rings.jpg]
Rebar wire rings to hold cloth on ends of black pipe
[Thumbnail for 5-Pipe-end-cap.png]
Pipe end with filter cloth cap in place and secured with wire
[Thumbnail for 6-End-cut-for-drain.png]
Filter cloth cut to slip onto drain assembly
[Thumbnail for 7-Connection-to-drain-fitted.jpg]
1st pipe in place connected to drain assembly
[Thumbnail for 8-Reservoir-assembled.jpg]
complete reservoir in place, ready for filling
[Thumbnail for 9-Sand-filled-around-reservoir.png]
Sand filled in around reservoir pipes
[Thumbnail for 10-Planted-with-comfrey.png]
Filled with dirt and comfrey plants in their nursery
If you believe you can tell me what to think, I believe I can tell you where to go. Go read this tiny ad!
To all organic gardeners and farmers
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