Are These Pots Self-Watering? Sure–Just Add Water

A month after planting, the greens in my self-watering Standing Garden from Gardener's Supply Company were flourishing.

A month after planting, the herbs and vegetables in my self-watering Standing Garden are flourishing (viewed from street level, looking down).

I must admit that I was deeply skeptical when I first heard about self-watering containers. I mean, really, who are they trying to kid? Somebody has to put water in there, and that somebody is you. So how exactly are these pots self-watering? The whole idea sounded too good to be true—like those advertisements you get in the mail for the miracle supplement that will help you “lose 22 pounds without dieting” or “never get Alzheimer’s.”

This summer, however, I did very much want a large container in which I could grow not just herbs, but larger vegetables as well. And the container I found happened to be, that’s right, self-watering. So, with high hopes for the new season, I swallowed my skepticism and placed my order.

Pepper flowers--photo copyright Anne Underwood EnslowThat was a month ago. Over Memorial Day weekend, I assembled my new, self-watering Standing Garden from Gardener’s Supply Company (a three-splinter job, since the boards are not sanded on the inside surface). But splinters aside, the design is ingenious. The container, which has a four-gallon reservoir for water in the bottom, measures 39.5 inches by 16.5 inches and stands roughly 3 feet off the ground on legs, so you can garden standing up. The “self-watering” part comes from fabric strips that reach from the soil into the tank below and wick up water, keeping the soil at a steady level of moisture all day long, no matter how hot it is outside.

Tomato flowers--photo copyright Anne Underwood EnslowI planted tomatoes, basil, oregano, peppers and eggplants, wondering what would happen–and have been amazed at the results. Every time I look, the plants seem to have grown another inch. The basil and oregano have graced many fine meals already. And the flowers on the peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants (in the thumbnail photos above, left, and below) are harbingers of delicious things to come.

Eggplant flower--photo copyright Anne Underwood EnslowTrue, I do have to fill the Standing Garden’s four-gallon reservoir every other day. But the plants love the consistency of the moisture. There are no dry spells or episodes of over watering (except for the downpours we’ve been having lately with way too much regularity). And I don’t have to worry if I’m not outside with a watering can at regular intervals every day. So maybe the term is somewhat misleading. But whether these containers are truly self-watering or not, count me as a fan.

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