02 May 2022 15:03




We all know it. The space in our greenhouse is scarce, and occasionally you miss a watering, and all you want to do is enjoy an afternoon drink in, or outside, your greenhouse. We have therefore made a little guide on how to make your own self-watering plant tower, out of two old food buckets. The plant tower makes it possible to plant in different levels in the bucket, so there will be room to grow more plants, and it keeps the water in, so you don’t have to water each day, which is a huge advantage. Place your food bucket in an unused corner of your greenhouse, or make a hook system, to hang up your food bucket, that also adds the possibility of planting hanging plants.  

A guide on how to make your own self-watering food bucket. 

This is what you need.  

  • To recycled food buckets in the same size. We use 1- or 2- gallon buckets. 
  • A recycled plastic pot (approximately Ø4 inches) with a height of approximately 3-4 inches. 
  • A screwdriver, a hole saw in the size Ø1-1,5 inches, as well as Ø3,5-4 inches and a regular drill.  
  • Long screws  
  • A piece of pipe/hose 
  • Folding rule and a permanent marker  
  • Soil and plants/seeds for planting  

*Food buckets are often available in the cafeteria at your workplace or at the restaurant just around the corners, that often throws them out.  


How to 

  1. Measure out three inches from the bottom of the lower bucket and mark it with an Indian ink. Put in four screws at the marking – evenly spread out around the bucket. The top buckets will stand on these screws. 
  2. Make a hole (Ø4-5 inches) in the middle of the top bucket, with the large hole saw, where the plastic pots (Ø5 inches) can hang. Also make a hole for the watering pipe with the smaller hole saw.  
  3. Fixate the food buckets, and drill plant holes. Put the handles opposite each other, perhaps make a mark on both buckets, each side, to later see where they should be put together. Perhaps screw a screw through the two buckets. Now drill the holes with the hole saw (Ø0.5-1 inches) through both buckets, evenly spread out, and more in the top bucket (displaced from the other holes). 
  4. Put the pot and the watering pipe in the top bucket, and put your buckets together, so the plant holes match. Drill a slotted pipe in the side of the outer food bucket, just under an inch under the inner food bucket. This way, extra water runs away, and the roots don’t risk drowning by over watering or strong rainfall (if it sometimes is placed outside of the greenhouse).  
  5. Fill the top bucket with soil and press it down – or else the wall won’t work. Plant the buckets with your chosen plants, or your seeds. Remember to water the soil thoroughly, and fill the reservoir with water, by pouring water down the pipe.  

Now you are all done all is left is to find a good spot in your greenhouse and let your plants grow or your seeds sprout.  

Good tips for growing in a self-watering bucket. 

When planting in a container, like the self-watering food buckets, it is best not to plant large plants, or plants that have a large and profound root net. Instead, plant many different types; of both small vegetables, herbs, summer flowers, or perennial plants. The only important thing is to choose plants, that thrive in a greenhouse, in proportion to sun and heat.  

Good plants to plant in your food bucket is for example smaller vegetables or herbs like, chili, rosemary, basil, thyme, sage or for example spinach in the colder greenhouse season. One-year summer flowers, like marigold and tagetes, as we highlighted in our last blog post, are good companions' plants, to for example tomatoes in the greenhouse. Perennial plants, as strawberry, is also really good to grow in the side hole of the food buckets, to reduce the chance of them rotting by coming into contact with soil, and to get the opportunity to get earlier strawberry, by taking them inside the greenhouse.  

Self-watering and upcycling  

The self-watering system with capillary provides the plants with a more natural access to water, and by watering from below, you avoid the soil collapsing and it will create better grow terms for your plants, and you don’t have to water as often. By making your own food bucket, you are recycling resources by upcycling to old food buckets, instead of buying newly produced cultivating buckets in plastic. If you are not finding your self-watering food bucket pretty, give it a more personal expression by painting it or decorating it with a fibre cloth.  

Om TagTomat

Behind the Danish company TagTomat (in English ‘Roof Tomato’) is a skilled team whose passion is to create green communities and inspire to green do-it-yourself and do-it-together projects. Today TagTomat sells organic flower seeds and vegetable seeds, which are packaged with our seed packaging machines from 1895. It all began in 2011 in the heart of the neighbourhood Nørrebro in Copenhagen with just five self-watering plant boxes on a wheelie bin storage. You can read more about TagTomat at our website TagTomat.

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