DIY Automated Indoor Container Garden Irrigation

Well, I worked on a project I have been talking about and gathering parts for a really long time now. I have had the pumps for over a year. I got the pumps on sale at Harbor Freight in Florida. I picked up the irrigation kit on sale at Walmart this fall. I eventually work on my DIY projects. Eventually. This is the homemade irrigation system for the planter stand in the apartment. I am really bad about taking care of my stuff. Unless it meows or otherwise can get my attention it’s gotta be basically 0 maintenance if it’s to survive. I have been working on a planter stand for a few months now. I finally have enough light, I just forget to water it for a few weeks at a time. I took a series of YouTube videos of my putting this together. It changed a few times as I put it all together. The videos are much darker then I thought they would be, so my apologies.

Here I cut the tube, and make up an adapter to get the smaller tube hooked up to the pump. It took a while for the pump to prime.

Gotta love my mumbling. The first pump I tried wasn’t powerful enough, so I had to make a 2nd adapter to the bigger pump.

I finally get to where I set up some irrigation using some soaker hose.

All set up and working. SCORE!


The water pump running in the tub of water. You can see the hose adapter I made to connect the small hose to the larger pump outlet.

Soaker hose in a window planter

The soaker hose put into the windowsill planter box. I used the little nails that the irrigation kit came with to nail the tubes down to the trellises or whatever. I don’t think that this is enough soaker hose to adequately water this box with the size of the drippers on the small pots. I think the next one I put together will have a horseshoe shaped loop so I have twice the amount of watering.

indoor greenhouse

It’s amazing how much extra light a ‘real’ light fixture puts out compared to the cheap grow light tube fixture. You can also see the net I made to keep the cats out of the plants.

container irrigation

A close up of the plants. You can see where I alternated the curve of the hose so in the end, I had a straight run of irrigation hose. I planted Paris Island Cos (romaine lettuce), Grand Rapids (green leaf lettuce) and Arugala (rocket salad) in the planter. I figured I needed to get that all started now if I was to have fresh salads by the time Katie moves up. I really don’t know how the salad greens will grow in this homemade indoor greenhouse thingy I got going on, but I shall find out! Now I just have to either find a timer that will work, set up my X10 firecracker and use that as a timer, or what I really want to do, is build a timer out of a rabbitcore so i can hook it up to the internet.

DIY homemade bookshelf risers for 2 levels of books

I have been kicking an idea around for a while. I am not sure if I saw it somewhere, read about it, found in instructable for it or what, but I have been wanting to make some bookshelf risers. So, if this is your idea, let me know. I will give credit where credit is due. Read about the next version – New Book Shelf Shelves.

Bookshelf risers – you know, bleachers for your books.

Normal bookshelves are 10 inches deep, and paperback novels are 4 inches deep. So the shelves are deep enough for 2 and a half rows of books. The shelves are also usually much taller then paperbacks as well.

In comes my riser idea. it’s a subshelf, that sits on a regular shelf, that is behind the first, outer row of books. It lifts the 2nd row of books up high enough that you can read the spines of the back row of books.

My mess of books
My mess of books

This is my current mess of books. The shelves are full (or at least would be), and I have 4 boxes of books waiting to be put on the shelves.

So, like any good DIYer, I made some.
With cardboard…
…and duct tape.

But, would a normal riser be good enough for me? NO. I need to make it more complicated. I want mine lighted. You know, so you can see the books in the back.

I just happened to pick up a good number of white LED Christmas tree light sets for real cheap tonight. So, of course, I want to use these. I mean, how cool is that, white LED lit bookshelves?

Poking the lights through the cardboard
Poking the lights through the cardboard

I just punched holes into the cardboard with a ball point pen. I took the crystal bulb lens dohicky off, shoved the plug through the hole, and pluged the light/lens back in depending on what popped off when I pulled hard.

I made the homemade shelf risers using a couple of books as measuring gages. I figured how tall I wanted the riser, how deep, etc. using the books on the shelf, then used the books on the cardboard when I was scoring the folds and cutting the ends. I wanted it L shaped so that the lights could be low, and face up, and so he wire was inside. The ends got to be pretty complicated to cut & fold together. It’s kinda a big jigsaw puzzle. Way too much cardboard in that small area – like 7 layers of cardboard all wanting to be on the same layer. So I kinda had to squish the ends flat to shove the whole thing into the shelf.

Homemade cardboard bookshelf riser installed. Look at the pretty lights!
Homemade cardboard bookshelf riser installed. Look at the pretty lights!

Here you can see the homemade cardboard rinky-dink subshelf installed. The lights point up. The top tips forward. Such a mess. I like in anyhow.

A row of books on the cardboard bookshelf riser so you can see how it looks.
A row of books on the riser so you can see how it looks.

You can push the front row of books back, and there is enough room for the lights to light up behind them.

Here you can see what the cardboard bookshelf riser looks like.
Looks good, doesn’t it? The orange thing is a portable power inverter because there isn’t an outlet nearby.

Here are both rows of books shelved. It’s pretty cool how you can see all the books now isn’t it?


Books with the lights out
Books with the lights out

Books with the lights out.

Comparing 2 rows of books both on and off the bookshelf risers
Comparing 2 rows of books both on and off the bookshelf risers

Here I have a photo with 2 rows of books on the top shelf, the outer row only 3/4 full. The lower shelf has the missing books from the top row. You can see how much better you can see all the books.

I am loving it!

One riser assembled, one cut and ready to assemble.
One riser assembled, one cut and ready to assemble.

So, what do you do when you spend an hour trying to figure out how to make a homemade funky shape out of cardboard, and you find yourself needing to make a 2nd? You take the first one apart, copy it, and put it back together again. The 2nd one goes so terribly much faster it’s not even funny.

Lights in a bookshelf
Lights in a bookshelf

It took a bit of doing to get 1 string of lights to work on 2 different shelves. I had to fiddle around a bit with the lights before I got them right. I had installed the lights starting on the wrong side on the top unit at first. It needs to start on the left, go to the right, so the lower one can go from right to left as the electrical outlet is to the left of the shelf.

Shelved my books back onto the shelf showing the bookshelf riser
Shelved my books back onto the shelf showing the bookshelf riser

Ah, isn’t it wonderful? I added nearly half again the usable shelf space on the bookshelf by dedicating 2 shelves to just small paperbacks and using my risers. I have the books I have read in the back, on the risers. I have some that i have read in the front too. All in all, I am quite happy with this set up.

But the coolest thing is…

back-lit bookshelf risers at night.
back-lit bookshelf risers at night.

Is this not the coolest thing you have ever seen? Ok, so it isn’t, but it is pretty cool anyhow. Probably one of the more unique bookshelf setups around. Guaranteed it’s the neatest one purchased 100% from Walmart. You just gotta know how to make their cheap crap into nice, cheap crap.

Speaking of crappy situations. The outlet is a switched outlet. So the bookshelf lights can only be on when the main light is on. How annoying is that? I have lights that will cost a penny to run round the clock for a year, and I can’t use them that way. Oh well, probably for the better. At least you can read the books in the back row because they are not all in shadow.


Read about the next version – New Book Shelf Shelves