A different version of this planter is available here.
To make this self watering container I used two plastic totes and a sturdy, plastic colander. One tote will be cut down to act as a water reservoir, the other tote will hold the soil and the colander will be used as a wicking chamber to draw water from the water reservoir into the soil above. If you have lids for these totes save them for later use.
Cut one tote down to the height of the colander, then drill small 1/4" holes for soil aeration all over the bottom of this tote. In the center, cut an opening for the colander. Save the other half of the tote you cut down for later use.
Place the colander inside the unaltered tote and then place the altered tote on top, bottom side up. Secure the colander to the altered tote, I used a couple of zip ties.
Drill a large hole through the outer tote and inner tote to act as both the overflow hole and as the fill hole.
Optional: If you don't want to bend down to fill the water reservoir you can add a fill tube to this design. Photos for a fill tube can be seen here.
When you add soil to the container make sure it is firmly packed into the colander. The soil in the colander will connect the water in the reservoir to the soil chamber above it, so make this link as strong as possible. It helps to pre-moisten the soil before you add it to the colander.
If you saved the unused portion of the cut down tote, and have a lid for it, you can also make a mini greenhouse/cold frame to go on top your self watering container. Simply cut a large opening into the lid and add a clear sheet of plastic between the lid and the tote.
Voila! Self watering container plus mini green house all for under $11.
I have a couple extra bell pepper seedlings I could plant, but I have more than enough in other containers so I bought some broccoli seedlings at the Union Square Green Market. The container could use more soil, but I am not buying anymore this year so that's that.
2 - 18 Gallon Plastic Totes: $8.40
Plastic Colander: $2.17
Broccoli Green Sprouting Calabrese: $2.00
Running Total: $138.65