Some of you may be puzzled. Why am I writing about water plants and saving water in the same article?
Because when you put them in the right kind of container, water plants take almost no watering at all.
The photo at the top of the page shows one of my mints, in a water-saving container I found at my local dump (the woman who runs it is kind enough to pull out useful items and put them by her kiosk. A small contribution to her dog-treat fund gets you your choice).
I didn’t feature this self-watering container in my series, because I’m not sure it would work for anything but plants who like to have their feet in water. The container is basically a 5-gallon bucket with another, shorter bucket of the same diameter (the red one) set into it. The bottom of the red bucket is drilled with sieve-like holes; it looks as if someone did them with a hammer and nail. (If you do that, be sure to hammer in the inside of the pail, so the little extrusion is headed toward the water. A more sophisticated way would be to drill it.)
At the end of this process, you have a short bucket with holes in the bottom sitting atop an empty space in a 5-gallon bucket. That empty space becomes the water tank.
It’s a perfect bucket for mint, containing it from running all over the place, as well as keeping it fresh and healthy. It would also work well for Siberian iris, pitcher plants, gotu kola (in summer), equisetum, even cattails and some kinds of bamboo or papyrus. Anything that likes its roots in water.
How often do I water my mint? I top it up maybe once a month with a quart or two. Granted, the first filling of the water tank takes a few gallons. Granted, it’s a little awkward and messy lifting the top bucket out of the bottom one. (But who would become a gardener if they didn’t have a tolerance, even a liking, for mess and awkwardness?) But the mint bucket sitting on top keeps water from evaporating, the mint looks fine, and the whole contraption is handy for cutting when I need it. I keep several kinds of mint this way; the buckets make it easy to have a collection that doesn’t get out of hand.