Dodgy DIY – A self-watering pot from an olive oil tin

10 Mar

I’m pretty much useless with my hands. Not an artistic bone in my body, no handywoman skills to speak of, and frankly I hate any type of ‘craft’. So anything home-made by me definitely falls into the ‘dodgy’ category, even if it does serve a useful purpose.

Liz has posted in the past about her olive oil tin pots and I think they look fabulous. So once I finished one of my tins off I thought I’d do something similar. The only problem is that I’m hopeless at remembering to water, so it is far better for me to have self-watering pots rather than the normal kind with drainage holes. So I thought I’d set about to make one of those, in my own ‘dodgy DIY’ way.

I started with the olive oil tin, 4 litres and empty.

Next I took to it with a can opener, taking the top off cleanly.

But this left the top far too sharp, so washed the residual oil from the tin, then I stole P’s hammer and beat down the edge in the tidiest way I could manage.

I was then left with a perfectly serviceable pot, minus some drainage holes.

But before that, I cut the bottom off a milk bottle

And placed it in the bottom of the tin.

Then I retrieved the top of the tin that I originally removed with the can opener

Then beat the edges in with a hammer to make it very slightly smaller so it would fit into the inside of the tin. I needed to try to insert it a few times to see which parts needed hammering in. Then I covered it with an old holey pantyhose:

I used the handle to hold onto while I pushed in into the tin, on top of the milk bottle bottom.

Then I estimated the height of the lid in the tin, and punctured drainage holes just slightly below this level.

Any sensible (skilled) person would use a drill for this, but I didn’t trust myself, so I just used a nail and the hammer.

So now, I had a pot with a water reservoir in the bottom, set up so that the soil wouldn’t just fall through the holes in the old lid.

This would now be perfect for any herb that hates drying out, like coriander.

But I have this poor neglected Kalamata olive tree that is growing horizontally, is overgrown with weeds and has been infested with scale and ants. I couldn’t resist the thought of potting it into an olive oil tin.

I brought it up onto the back deck and sat it in water for a while to try to drown the ants

Fricassee even helped!

The ant-drowning didn’t really work. I just got bitten lots of times and eventually had to hose them off the roots by hand.

But then I potted it in my lovely new self-watering pot, and I think it looks kinda spiffy!

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8 Responses to “Dodgy DIY – A self-watering pot from an olive oil tin”

  1. Lilian March 10, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

    Yes spiffy indeed! Great re-use idea.

  2. Liz March 10, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    Very cool – fab idea to make them self watering. My partner’s looking over my shoulder now and has studied your how to walkthrough. He will be set to work replicating this tomorrow! Oh dear, now he’s protesting..ok maybe not tomorrow but soon….

    • L from 500m2 in Sydney March 10, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

      But you don’t need him! Seriously, if I can do it…
      Actually I’m sure if your guys do it you will come up with a load of ideas on how to improve the project. I mean, I can’t even use a drill!

  3. Kate March 10, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    Fantastic idea. And who says your not good with your hands!!!!!

    • L from 500m2 in Sydney March 10, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

      Thanks Kate 🙂 I hope it works well now that I’ve given myself a rap! I suspect that the olive wasn’t really the plant for the pot seeing as it has been surviving on complete neglect.

  4. Frogdancer March 11, 2012 at 4:47 am #

    I’ve made pots from olive tins but I never thought of making them self-watering.
    Excellent job!

  5. A sydfoodie March 13, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    I love that an olive has been planted in an olive oil tin. It might be a bit small for it though

    • L from 500m2 in Sydney March 13, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

      Yeah, but about the same size as the one it came out of, so I hope I’ll get a year out of it.

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