Seed Swaps

Completed clay pot water jar irrigation system

19 Apr 2011
Cloudy 18°C / 65°F

Completed burying clay pots in the cucurbit planters and arranging the seedlings in a ring around them. When they get established I can test the soil around them with a moisture probe, and see how far the water will reach, and also see how well the squash can make use of the water from these pots. Future possibilities: drill hole for drip irrigation tube to refill pot on a schedule. drill another hole in center of lid, add teriyaki stick with cork float to show water level.

1. cover off
2. cover on




Pretty awesome setup (and a handy labeling system too)!

Posted on 20 Apr 11 (about 7 years ago)

Great idea. I love acorn squash.

Posted on 20 Apr 11 (about 7 years ago)

In my previous journal I explained that this was an old idea from the natives of the Southwest. Recovering primitive technology resonates deeply with me.

Posted on 21 Apr 11 (about 7 years ago)

But with the Anasazi gone forever and no Navajo on hand to instruct me, I will necessarily have to make and recover from my mistakes. It seems that the water level in the pots does not drop at the same rate, even when buried. Differences in the clay, or the corks, or? I wonder if the seepage is enough. One pot in four seeps about a cup a day; the others’ water levels have barely gone down. Is there a way to adjust seepage? Wire-brush the outside and inside, perhaps? The pots look the same, and were bought at the same time.

Posted on 21 Apr 11 (about 7 years ago)

Hmm maybe it’s the amount of water the plant/ground is needing? Only wicking out what is required?
Cool idea! Did you have to seal the drainage hole at the bottom?

Posted on 21 Apr 11 (about 7 years ago)

If the plant’s requirements caused more seepage through the pot that would be ideal. The plants near that particular jar are larger, and may in fact be tapping the water. The others are more in the seedling range and newly transplanted to boot. So I will see in a few weeks whether when they begin to send out more rootlets the water disappears more quickly. Meantime I will keep an eye on them to make sure the seedlings don’t dry out.
I corked the pots with natural corks from a wine bottle. Just luck that a standard cork will fit a pot 6 inches in diameter at the top. I reasoned that the natural cork would swell and make an even better seal over time, than those artificial ones I am finding more often now. (and I can’t tell you how many bottles of screw-top wine I had to go through before I gave up on THAT idea! With each bottle the idea seemed more reasonable… but that’s another story. ; ) )

PS nice pumpkin you trellised

Posted on 22 Apr 11 (about 7 years ago)

Love that idea! How big is the box? 2ft x 2ft? Larger, smaller?

Posted on 22 Apr 11 (about 7 years ago)

It’s 2′ × 2′ by 1.5 feet deep. I expect I’ll have to cull some of the plants. I always have problems with scale, it seems.

Posted on 22 Apr 11 (about 7 years ago)

lol!! All in the name of gardening :D
I love this idea! I do hope it works, saves over watering if they will take only what they need.
Thanks for the comment about the pumpkin. I can’t wait to pick it. It’s one of the reasons I finally started up my garden – had a horrible tasteless pumpkin from the supermarket, and had others just going off after a couple of days.

Posted on 24 Apr 11 (about 7 years ago)


Folia Helper

United States5


Posted on 26 Apr 11 (about 7 years ago)

I’m going to be trying this with my tomatoes, pumpkins, cukes and peppers. I love the idea of using natural materials, and reviving old, perfectly wonderful ways of gardening/planting. Makes me wish I knew how to throw a pot, ’cause then I could fashion my own.

Posted on 26 Apr 11 (about 7 years ago)

@ KathN: For this kind of work, slip cast in a plaster mold is the way to go- you can make a slew of identical pots by making several molds and use them to mold in batches, and here’s how:
1. Find/ carve/ a pot in the shape you want
2. build a two-piece mold with a bottom tray about 12 × 12 × 6 inches and another frame that fits on top of it 12 × 12 × 6
3. plug all openings into the pot and smear it all over with vaseline, and the box on the inside surfaces. Place the pot in the box with the top halfway across the middle seam of the box, and fill it to the 6 inch mark with fresh plaster, so that the pot is halfway submerged. Any non-symmetrical features (handles, etc) should be arranged along the seam to allow the original piece to be removed when the plaster is set.
Let the plaster set a day or two.
4. smear inside the top frame with Vaseline, the exposed part of the pot, and the top surface of the bottom plaster half. screw the halves together and fill the top half with plaster, covering your original pot. Wait for a couple days, then carefully separate the two halves and remove your original pot. Put the halves together again and drill a 2-4 long holes for dowels in the area away from the pot, to make a snug fit. Separate the halves and insert 2 of the the dowels into each of the halves, leaving some length to mate up to the opposite half. Clean up the negative impression and carve out any design you might want to make on the outside of the pot, into the negative mold on either side.
5. Dry the plaster mold in the sun or elsewhere until the water is all evaporated and the mold no longer feels cool to the touch. Remove the wood frame
6. reassemble the mold, using the dowels and drilled holes to get a perfect alignment. Do not use vaseline this time. You should have a mold with a large opening on the top.
7. Prepare a batch of slip, clay the consistency of pea soup- it should be thick but pourable. Be careful not to whip bubbles into it.
8. Pour the slip into the assembled dry plaster mold until it is full. Bump the mold to dislodge any air bubbles that might have formed on the walls. The clay on the plaster surface of the mold begins to harden and dry out as the water passes into the plaster from the slip. Wait until the thickness of this soft but solid lining of the mold reaches the desired thickness, less than 1/4 inch, then pour out the excess slip.
9. Allow the casting to dry out in the mold before separating the halves. When the casting piece is dry enough to unmold, separate the halves and remove your pot. Touch up the pot by removing any flashing left by the mold with a butter knife, adding extra sculptural touches as desired. Let the pot dry out completely, and while it’s drying, make another copy of your pot by starting over at (5). You should not glaze these pots, so you can skip the part about bisqueware and go straight to the final firing.
10. When all your pots are ready, take them to your friendly local kiln operator to be fully fired according to the type of clay you are using.
Or you can just bop over to your local big-box hardware store and pick up a couple of ready-made clay pots. Your choice.

Posted on 26 Apr 11 (about 7 years ago)

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