Author Topic: Container Gardening  (Read 2772 times)

Offline Raldog

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Container Gardening
« on: March 30, 2011, 05:02:55 PM »
Jack's show yesterday hit the nail on the head for me!  I've been trying to figure out how to grow stuff on my balcony since last year, and containers are the answer... plus I get to take my stuff with me if I get run over by a Brinks truck and finally get enough money for a homestead.

In answer to a comment after the show notes, dvdchris asked about a website or two I'd seen that had a cool plumbing idea for the reservoir-type containers.  (I don't like the term "self-watering" 'cuz that makes me think of pumps and automatic valves and stuff... like my sprinkler system back in Jacksonville.)  Besides an "earthbox"-style reservoir under the plants, two kids from Colorado used the syphon effect to plumb all their containers together, eliminating the need for individual fills.

Look at or see their YouTube channel at  Pretty danged smart for a couple of young men, and I love that their purpose is to design a low-cost, low-input system to help in countries where the food shortages will hit first and hardest.  Like all true entepreneurs, these kids have already moved past buckets and tubs to grow bags, and are experimenting with coir as a replacement for peat moss to promote sustainability.

Anyway, this finally looks to be the solution for my balcony which gets only afternoon sun, and promptly cooked alive everything I put out there last year before I could get home from work to water it.  Between Jack's podcast and sites like these, I'm working up a shadow map that will help me keep stuff alive and well all summer.  I'm really jazzed about this, and will be putting stuff out this weekend.


Offline chezrad

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Re: Container Gardening
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2011, 05:42:44 PM »
Well this was perfect timing! I can now have veggies around the pool.

Offline Pathman

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Re: Container Gardening
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2011, 08:26:11 PM »
Wow, I just discovered the Global Bucket site today.  It's great that it is a couple of teenagers doing it.  Of course, my wife doesn't want "ugly" buckets on the deck so I will have to use the pots she picks out.  Though if she gets fancy looking plastic pots, maybe I can double them up and make them global buckets.

Offline stromaverm

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Re: Container Gardening
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2011, 09:17:34 PM »
The problem with self-watering container gardening are

  • salt buildup in areas with hard water
  • nematodes and other pests

This paper states that "Very high residual concentrations of total soluble salts were measured in the growth media in the boxes after each crop".

If you think about it, it makes sense. You are constantly adding slightly salty (hard) water into a closed system, and the water is being transpired into the air by the plants, but the salts are left behind. Also, many composts are high in salt (especially if made with a lot of manure). The salts never get washed into the deep soil profile away from the plant roots by rain, because this is a closed system. Just remember that simply topping off the reservoir will create a situation where metal salts from fertilizers and irrigation water will become increasingly concentrated. This could impede water and nutrient uptake if the system is not flushed frequently.

So watch for yellowing leaves with these pots. If they begin to occur, you need to flush the soil well. It is the first sign of chloride damage.

The soil must be changed every so often, or "flushed". To flush: water well into soil (with rainwater preferably) & allow salts to go into solution - then water again - copiously. This will carry salts out the drainage hole.

Nematodes will build up in soil that is endlessly reused for cropping, in many instances.

Offline Todd R

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Re: Container Gardening
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2011, 04:29:32 PM »
I've used 5 gal buckets as containers for quite some time and a while ago was faced with the "make them pretty or get rid of them" ultimatum. I thought about painting them, making a fabric cover for them, and even considered building wooden boxes to set them in. The solution I came up with was quick and easy and made both of us happy... I wrapped them in decorative self-adhesive shelf liner. It has to be redone every three years or so but it was cheap and easy and best of all got rid of the so-called "eye sore". Let her pick out whichever pattern/color will go best with the surroundings if you want to make her really happy :)