Summer is a time for vacations and for that I love summer. Summer vacations, however, tend to bring up a lot of obstacles when you're new to a city and don't have any friends to casually leave your house keys with and ask that they water your plants a few times while you're gone. We just left on a road trip to see family and we had almost forgotten about the fact that we didn't have any of those old amazing friends we were so lucky to rely on for help.
Just a day before the big road trip did I remember our balcony container garden as well as my very loved houseplants. The heatwave we've been having for the last three weeks worried me about how our plants would survive for ten days without water. I immediately went to google for some suggestions and learned that almost everyone alive has close friends to ask (at least that's what all the suggestions were on the message boards to those few loners who had no trusted friends, like us).
I guess the saying is true - necessity is the mother of invention. Sitting down with my thinking cap, I came up with two ideas. The first was to fill empty bottles with water, stick them in the plants and allow the water to slowly moisten the soil. I came up with this while remembering those self-watering bulbs you can buy for $10-$15 at garden stores. I decided to try it out and soon realized that, unfortunately, my idea was flawed. The opening of the beer bottle was too large and the water drained into the soil within a couple hours. That would not work with our ten day vacation coming up - we needed something that would slowly ensure that our plants were hydrated for at least a week or so.
Enter idea number two: fill the bathtub with water and place the plants on top of something that would wick the water from the bathtub into their soil. I have a large variety of pots and plants and therefore a garden with a large amount of varying water needs. Some of the plants get upset with too much water - so I couldn't just dunk them in the tub of water. Some other of our plants fear dehydration and beg for water constantly - so I had to ensure they'd be kept moist.
I ended up gathering up our baking dishes and placing them upside down in the bath tub. I filled the tub until the water was slightly above some of the smaller baking dishes and not quite covering the other larger baking dishes.
I then covered them with a towel, making sure to drape the towel into the water between the baking dishes. I knew the towel would wick the water up and stay moist.
I carefully arranged our plants in the bathtub, placing them on the towel-covered baking dishes. The plants that love water I placed on the lower baking dishes that were covered while the plants that enjoy some drying out were placed on the higher dishes that were not submerged in water.
I also have a couple pots that don't have holes in the bottom. For them, I watered the soil extremely well and placed them on the edge of the tub hoping that the extra humidity from the water-filled bathtub would help them a little.
I've been keeping my fingers crossed that my plants will survive our vacation. After starting many of them from seeds and taking in dying plants from friends and nursing them back to health I would hate to come home to a plant-less house. I'll keep you updated on how this watering system worked, but until then, perhaps you could cross your fingers for us too?