Growing vegetables in self-watering containers

Recently, I was at my local food co-op and chatted with a friend about her gardens. She told me that she is having fabulous luck growing tomatoes, peppers and more in a bucket system she constructed. Her inspiration was a book by Vermont’s Ed Smith, who has written a number of great books, including “The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible.” And although I have used the Ed Smith system in the past, it’s good to see how someone else uses it, so I visited her to see what she has done.

Susan Pillsbury has nine or 10 self-watering containers, each made from two five-gallon buckets. The bottom bucket is the water reservoir, and the top bucket, which nestles inside it, holds soil mix. There is a 3- or 4-inch piece of PVC plumber’s pipe (3-inch diameter) that stands up in the bottom bucket and is full of holes she drilled in it.

The piece of pipe sits in the lower bucket and supports the upper bucket. She used a 2-inch hole saw to put a wide hole in the bottom of the upper bucket, right in the middle.