December 6, 2010

Have I got a SUPER project for you!!

Every year, we've tried to figure out some fabulous way to keep the live Christmas tree, well... live. And every year, we inevitably fail to keep it watered 100% of the time. When I was little, it was because we had a HUGE tree, and it would need to be watered 2-3 times a day... so dad would tie soda bottles filled with water to the bottom of the tree. You always knew when he was changing them though, because there would be this muffled "grunna nuh humfp, ugh! pbthhh, dang needles, ugh *grunt*" type sound coming from the living room. Things would get messy, water would get spilled, and you generally just steered clear.

It's been (mainly) my job to water the tree as a married lady. I still like the tradition of keeping the tree up as long as possible (for my parents, it stays up until Dad's Birthday... in February), but since it's just the two of us, and we live so far from our parents, it doesn't get watered at ALL for at least a week every year. Which means LOTS of needles come off when it's time to take it down.

I found this nifty gadget this year, and really wanted to buy it... but for $40.00 (after shipping) I was denied. :(. So I said "Fine. I'll make one myself!"  A few searches on the internet reminded me of basic principles of science which made me realize... this is WAY easier than we'd been thinking.

SO... here's how you make your budget christmas tree waterer which will keep you from all the pain that is watering a Christmas tree. I spent $9.00 on it... but you can PROBABLY do it for less. (yes, LESS!)

What you'll need:
- Big-ol-bucket: I got a 19 Qt Clear (useful) rubbermaid roughneck that is about 9 inches wide, 12 inches long and 10ish inches tall. I like that mine has a lid, to keep gunk out of it. Not REALLY necessary, unless you have small children/pets/etc. (p.s. How funny would it be if you had a goldfish swimming around in there, ha!)
- Tubing: I got 3/8" tubing with a 1/4" inner diameter, 10 feet long at Lowe's for about $3.00. I could have gotten the 1/4x1/8 inch "by the foot" tubing for $0.14/foot... but I didn't feel like finding an associate, as there were groceries in my trunk at the time. You also don't need 10 feet... 5 is probably good. You need 2 feet more than the radius of your tree basically, so you can place the bucket OUTSIDE the branch radius.
- Zip ties: I used two to make it all the way around the truck of the tree... you can put them together to "grow" the length, but if you have one that's large enough to surround the trunk, you're set.
- Water: Warning - you WILL NOT FILL THE WHOLE BUCKET!!

Ok, so here's what we do: We put our EMPTY bucket next to our tree stand and make a mark with where the TOP of the tree stand's reservoir is. Then we make a more definite mark (line) about 1/2" below (or more, if you want to play it a little safe, that's A-O-K). That will be your "max" line. Also make a mark (the best you can) as to where the BOTTOM of the reservoir is, and then put a line 1" above that mark. That line is the MINIMUM amount of water you should have in your bucket.

So now, we have something that looks like this: (but configured to your tree stand)

THEN, we tie a zip tie LOOSELY  around the trunk of the tree. Insert into that loop your tubing, and push it down to the bottom of the reservoir and tighten the zip tie.

Now fill your bucket up to the max line you made earlier. The bigger the bucket, the more water it will hold, the less often you'll need to fill it, but even small or skinny ones will work.

Now, you'll want to CAREFULLY suck on the tube to pull the water through it. If you have clear tubing... watch where the water is... I didn't have to taste pine water, because I stopped JUST before it got to the end of the tube... and quickly put your finger over the end to seal it off. Now submurge the tube into your bucket, bending the tubing so that the remaining air comes out and fills with water. Voila. You're done. The water in the bucket will slowly "back-flow" to the water in the reservoir until they reach the same level. If you have a water-bubble in the tubing, it won't work, so make sure you get all the air out of the tubing. Also make sure that the end of the tubing always stays under water.

If you want to get fancy, you can drill a hole the same size as your tubing in your bucket's lid, slide the tubing in, and then do your sucking. (Scientifically, it's called siphoning). Then when your done, you can close the lid of the bucket. I just put the lid over the bucket and didn't push down all the way. I might get fancy later, but for now... I have more Christmas shopping to do!



Fidelio said...

I would've just gotten the puppy and been done.

Robert said...

All that money and time spent on engineering school paid off!

Nice job - think Mom will let me do it also?

Betsy said...

hahaha. Something like that dad ;) Mom seemed interested by it when I talked to her about it! You should totally do it! (plus, I'm still not convinced Fidelio's "puppy" would have good enough aim to fill the tree ;-P)