DIY self watering herb planter (+ free basil for life!)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

I never thought I'd pick up growing stuff as a hobby. But ever since I helped my cousin in California pick off some fresh basil leaves from their garden to wrap the shrimps for grilling, I decided that it's so awesome that I want my own herb garden too!

The only problem is, I'm afraid of a lot of natural things. The worms, the bugs, the dirt that gets in my fingernails that I have to pick off... Not to mention, I'm too lazy busy to maintain a garden!

I asked Google what to do, and Google answered me with this... Modern Sprout: self watering herb kits. How awesome is that! I love things that take care of itself. Apparently Oprah does too!

And then the math-head in me started going... A kit costs around $18-$20 each, a bundle of cilantro goes for 33 cents at Walmart, it's going to take forever for me to make financial sense out of this!

So instead of announcing to Justin that I have just developed another expensive hobby, I went shopping.

Here's what I came up with:

And then it's as simple as this:

  1. assemble (stick the plug into the coupling with a little contact cement)
  2. wait for the contact cement to fully dry and the odor completely dissipates
  3. drill a hole through the plug using a 1/4" drill bit
  4. drill again to add the screws on the sides 
  5. thread the nylon rope through the bottom hole (make sure its length allows the rope to run fully through the coupling on one end, and touch the bottom of the mason jar on the other end)
  6. fill the coupling with soil and plant your herbs! 
    Don't forget to add some water to the soil to give the plant/seeds some much needed H2O before the wicking action begins!)

Easy, right?  Even a cave woman (like me!) can do it.

For my planting pleasure, I started with these little guys from Seed Exchange.

I have to admit, growing something from seeds takes a lot of patience compared to the instant gratification one gets from the vegetable aisles. But I love my herbs and they've been loving me back! I have been snipping off these little green leaves to add flavors to our dishes and they're still growing strong!

And I haven't forgotten about the free basil I promised.

Please don't laugh at my lack of knowledge in planting and transplanting, but apparently basil can be propagated by cutting. How does one do it? As with everything in life, there's the hard way of doing it, and there's mom's way.

One day I was at our favorite Pho restaurant with my parents and I was telling them about my new found passion in growing herbs, while picking off the fresh basil leaves for my pho. "Take that stem home and stick it in water, that's how you grow basil," my mom said.

Say what?

Like a good daughter, I did exactly what mom suggested. And she's right. Not only did the bare stem I took home lived on, it even started to root (I think that's what the fibery stuff at the base of the stem turns into?) and grew some new leaves.

Once there are roots, the stem can be transplanted into the self-watering container. And now we have endless free fresh basil supplies!

To put the "self watering" super power feature to the test, last month we went on a 10-day vacation and left my beloved plants home alone. When we returned, I was happy to find them still alive and well hydrated...

The DIY self watering container work wickedly! (Pun fully intended)

Happy growing,

PS. For those who just want to get planting without the DIY, check out IKEA's self watering planters. I haven't seen them in person yet so not sure how much water it'll hold, but it seems to be a pretty aesthetically pleasing solution at a pretty reasonable price.


though my lenses...

currently coveting...