How do I water my plants while I'm out of town?

I might be going to prison for a little while, and need to figure out how to water my plants while I’m gone. There must be some hybrid of McGyver and Mr. Science to construct a slow drip device using a 2-litter bottle, 4 paperclips, a stick of Fruit Stripe gum and a solar eclipse’s corona.

Okay, I’m not going to prison, but you’ve got to admit, it is a hell of a way to start a post.

You say to your neighbor, “Hidily ho, neighborino! I’m going out of town for a while. Mind watering my plants?”

Ice cubes.

Use a length of cloth, like a tea towel, and cut a 1 inch strip. Soak the cloth in some water, and place one end in the bottle, and the other end in the pot plant - try to avoid any kinks or sharp bend in the cloth. For best results keep the length as short as possible. Mr Science would probably mention something about capillary action at this point.

This is what I’ve heard from gardening books, however I haven’t done any gardening since I grew cress on cheesecloth when I was 7.

I’ve also seen my parents just put them in the bathtub with a inch or so of water in the tub.

How long is “a little while”? A week? A month?

Here are two techniques that I’ve used with some success:

(1) Simpler: If the plant is sufficiently small, put it in a large clear plastic bag with an open container of water, and seal the bag tightly. Hey presto! instant greenhouse.

(2) Deliciously MacGyver-esque: get a shoelace. Lay 6-8" of the shoelace on the surface of the soil. Place the other end of the shoelace in a container of water, making sure that the surface of the soil is above the surface of the water and the lace reaches to the bottom of the water container. Water climbs the shoelace via capillary action and seeps into the soil. Be sure to cover the water container somewhat so that you don’t lose as much water to evaporation.

Depends on how long you are going to be locked up for and how thirsty the plant is. If it only going to be lesss than a couple of weeks then I suggest this:

Put a small hole in the lid of a large coke bottle. Fill up the bottle and screw the lid on. Turn the bottle upside down and stick the neck of the bottle in the soil. You can brace it with a stake.

The water is drawn out by capillary action and gravity until the reduced pressure inside the bottle holds the water up. When the soil dries out enough, air is allowed to enter back up into the bottle, the pressure is balanced and more water leaks out. This cycle continues until the bottle empties.

If you have time, experiment with hole sizes and bottle sizes.

Enjoy the break.

Some home improvement stores and/or nurseries have “timed release” watering spikes for potted plants. Just stick 'em in, and they supposedly keep your greens watered for a few weeks at regular intervals.