The Tomato-Watering Machine

After a winter storm in early May and 67-degree days and drizzle in mid-June, buying plants for a garden seemed like a risk. However, my friend, who is a master gardener, convinced me. She volunteered me for an experiment she wanted to try — a tomato-watering machine.

Actually, it is not a machine and there are no moving parts, but it is rather clever. The purpose of this machine is to have a reservoir of water available for the plant at all times. This is for people like me who love tomatoes but hate watering plants.

You start with two five-gallon buckets, a Styrofoam cup with a hole in the bottom, paper towels, and a PVC pipe about eight inches long.

Here's how it works: An overflow hole is drilled into the side of a bucket (I'll call it "Bucket A"). The PVC pipe goes into the Styrofoam cup, the paper towel under the cup draws the water to the cup. The PVC pipe acts as a wick and moves the water up into another bucket ("Bucket B"). Bucket B contains dirt and one tomato plant with the top of the PVC pipe exposed so more water (or rainwater) can be placed into Bucket A. There should be about three gallons of water in Bucket A, which should last a week if there is no rain. Look on YouTube for more homemade self watering ideas.

Growing fruits and vegetables has gained a certain cache in recent years. But why? I believe it comes from people searching for their personal healthy selves. I think in this high-tech world of more information than a brain can process at one time, we need a place to go where we can hide from the world. My theory is that it takes more time to accomplish half as much as we did in the past, and with all the information we are given we never get to a peaceful center because of how busy we are processing information. We never reach a conclusion that is satisfying — it does not matter what the subject is.

Tomato-watering machines are a metaphor for a simple, build-with-your-own-hands method. It's a product that results in a finite end result: the growing plant. Even the tomato plant has a purpose. In fact, the plant has many purposes: it brings pleasure in its beauty, adds oxygen to the air, provides nourishment, and reduces stress by making the farmer proud of his accomplishments.

My other amazing ideas for summer are these:

  1. Make sure to take some time off and plant a garden even if it is small.
  2. Be sure to take a walk down the street, in a park or on a beach.
  3. Talk to people wherever you are and learn something from them.
  4. My mother’s gift to my family was that she was not afraid to say "Good morning" to anyone and ask them about their day. You never know, you might have been the only one to say a kind word to that person their whole day or even week.
  5. Eat ice cream. It makes people happy. There are plenty of varieties for all sorts of diet restrictions so no excuses.
  6. Spend time with those you love. Life is busy so we make time for all the unimportant things (like work and more work) and forget that time is precious and life is finite. Nobody ever regretted their job after they got ill, only the time lost from family.
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Robin Rood
Robin Rood, RD, LD, MEd, MA, writes about nutrition as a local expert for in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and blogs at