2nd. Quarter, 2021 Gardening Tips.
Well it looks like spring is really struggling to make it's presence known. One of the biggest concerns where I live is water. We don't know if we will have enough water to even plant a garden this year. Well, actually we can plant one, but the likelihood that it can make it through the summer without water is the big question. So when we face this kind of a situation, it might be worth the time to consider doing the container gardening stuff. We have a serious drought situation that we are faced with. It is going to be bad, did I mention BAD? For example, on my son's one farm, just up the road from where I live, the irrigation company normally allocates around 3 feet to the share on an normal average year. Plus they do a use or lose it, with the water from about a month or so before they start charging you for water. This year there is no use or lose it water and they have allocated .47 feet of water per share. So it is not good for this year. So the container system looks like a good option.
When you do a container garden you can use the grey water from your house, at least most grey water, to water your plants in the containers. Water from your bath tub, even if you only take showers, can be very useful. If you take showers, just plug off the drain and get out before it runs over on to the floor. For the most part, the soaps in the water will not hurt your plants, unless you have some weird stuff going on. You dish water in your kitchen sink will also work, as long as you aren't using a lot of chlorine, aka; bleach in the water. Most of the soaps are rich in nutrients, such as phosphorus. If you want to take it a step further, then collect your pee. It is a rich source of nitrogen. The plants will sanitize the stuff, and the soil will filter it. Normal soil activity will break down any so called gross stuff, so all will be well.
Perhaps the best approach is to not buy soil from the stores that have it packaged up in bags. It just is not good. So go out and scoop up some dirt that you know that does not contain bad stuff. Then add some common fertilizers, rather it may be all natural or what ever. A while back I bought some so called high quality "soil" for a house plant project I was doing. After I opened the bag, I realized that I got suckered into a scam. It was one of those type of things that was nothing but raw shredded wood chips that were painted black with a small amount of something that was suppose to be soil mixed in with it. After I wiped off the the black paint, I could tell the chips were fresh chips, ie; less than 1 year old, more like 6 months old. Heck they still had the turpentine smell to them. Also you have to be careful to not buy some manures in the bags. Several years ago I made new soil, much like many of you have to do, so I could be on the same level as you. My container garden failed that year. Then during the winter I read about the Glysophate (Roundup) issue with a lot of the ponch (manure from the belly of cattle) material. Sometimes these animals are fed large amounts of feed that has been heavily applied with this chemical and a few others as well. It essentially hasn't had time to decompose as they were fed in a feed lot and then butchered. The contents are then separated, bagged and sold for gardening purposes. These things eventually break down, and Roundup for example goes through several processes tin breaking down, which requires, 1st a low pH, then it needs a lot of Nitrogen then it eventually evolves into Carbon and Nitrogen. But before than point it can raise havoc with the plants and animal life. Part of this problem is caused by the other supplements fed that raises the pH in the Rumen (part of the stomach and a separate part of the digestive system on many food animals. These chemicals have to have an acidic environment in order to break down. Plus they also act alike an antibiotic of sorts, killing off the bacteria needed for the soil and plants to interact and to their thing. They also block certain nutrients. So you need to make sure they have already broken down before you apply those types to your growing medium.
So to get around this problem, I went up to the farm and scooped up some soil, added some composted turkey manure and in those containers that I did this, it went fantastic. In those containers that I tried to use some of the old growing material and added the new to it, well, not so good. To make a long story short, you need a high Nitrogen setting to break down and neutralize these bad "..cides" Poultry manure is very high in Nitrogen, making the poultry manure a major contributing factor in dealing with this issue. IN the area where I live the soil is a very high pH level. So when I get some local soil I have to make sure that it hasn't had any of these chemicals applied to the soil is the last, say like ever! I felt confidant that was the situation of where I got the soil from on the farm and it appears that I was correct. The plants did real well. But I also created another problem, so keep this in mind as you prepare your containers. I made too many drain homes holes. Since I had a lot of loose soil, also known as not enough clay, the water drained away too fast, so it requires a lot more slow watering, as in drip irrigation. So depending on the mode of irrigation, be careful of the number of holes you make. But then again, just only make a few holes, so like in a 5 gallon bucket, make 3 holes at about 1/4 inch diameter and as long as you have some gravel or sand in the bottom, maybe 1 to 2 inches or so, you will be just fine.
I tried a new experimental method last year. I took some plastic barrels, the 55 gallon size, cut the top 1/3 off, then filled them up with straw, then put a few inches of soil in the top of the straw. From that point i just followed the straw bale method of gardening. It worked out really good. Except that I drilled too many holes int he bottom and all the water just drained right through, so the ability to hold water to compost the straw was compromised. Then about the 2nd or 3rd day I checked the one barrel, it was coming along nicely, just about the right temperature. So I applied the water, I applied too much water and killed the composting process. So another lesson learned. Go easy on the water. That seems to be a draw back to doing a straw bale concept in a container larger than a 5 gallon bucket. 5 gallon bucket is about the right amount of straw for normal straw bale decomposing when using it on a container method application. Anyway, I was able to still use that container but it didn't produce a strong plant, but it still done OK. I checked he containers from last year, yesterday. I think I will have some good stuff to work with this year. I will have to mix in some soil from the farm, control for the high pH and use a lot of composted poultry manure.
I also posted a newsletter of sorts in my one facebook group, Aromatherapy and Nutritional Information about raising tomatoes. It is done by a group that focuses on growing Tomatoes with a great deal of attention being paid to container gardening of Tomatoes. If that is of interest to you, go there and read it.
So there you go for this quarterly gardening tips. I hope you have an enjoyable summer season in your garden. Until next time, Take care and as always, thank you for your interest.
End of Report. KK.