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Organic Container Growing  RSS feed

 
Eric Markov
Posts: 100
Location: Bay Area CA zone 9
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Every year I plant vegetables in 6 tubs and experiment with different organic methods.
The idea is to do this without buying any fertilizer or soil mix, only using what is on the land.

For mixes I use leaves, forest floor mulch (pretty much a rich compost), and old last-year's container mix which is basically fine compost.
Fertilizer is ashes and HLF (homemade or human liquid fertilizer).

Gotten some interesting results so far this year like:

Putting a stump in a tub, works really well for eggplants and
peppers do well in a mix of 1' compressed/stomped-on leaves topped off with a 6" compost layer.

Just posted more detailed results at:

http://lowcostvegetablegarden.blogspot.com/2012/08/zero-cost-organic-containers-update.html

http://lowcostvegetablegarden.blogspot.com/2012/08/zero-cost-organic-container-experiment.html

Cheers




 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Location: Missoula, MT
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Nice blog and pics, Eric. Especially:
The stumppot on the left has done the best, no wilt (see vertical hugelkultur post). This is very exciting and unexpected result, for me. I definitely thought limiting so severely the amount of soil in the stumppot would have stunted the eggplant. Just the opposite, it is the biggest I've grown. And it has never wilted, not once.

 
Jocelyn Campbell
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THIS log looks like it has cube rot! Wow, I wonder if it is!



The way I heard cube rot described, it's likely some of the most magical wood fungus there is for retaining water and creating fertile, nurse-log-like conditions.


 
Eric Markov
Posts: 100
Location: Bay Area CA zone 9
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You noticed!

Yes, I had the same thought after reading about brown cubic rot a couple weeks ago, somewhere on this site.

Thinking about how cubic rot would be useful in a container or irrigated vegetable garden has my mind quite confused though.

I went out and got some and put it in a bowl of water to see how it wicks.



It is very hydrophobic. In this picture the pieces in the front of the bowl have been floating for 2 days. The 2 pieces in the back of the bowl were just put in.

The cubic rot log is on the right, and just a redwood stump is on the left.

Dry redwood seems very similar to brown cubic rot, very hydrophobic and lightweight.


So how is this good for the soil:
* It absorbs water very slowly, so maybe it will release it very slowly. Useful in a drought situation, to keep plants just alive.
* Maybe roots could attach to these cubes and access the air. The cubes would provide better aeration?
However unlike say perlite, when you water the soil, the water won't go through the cube providing an air flush, so the aeration won't be as good.

I'm going to try adding cubic rot to some small container plants and see how the roots attach to it.
It could help make seedlings more transplant shock proof.

Anyway, just thought rambling here.

If anyone has links to good articles on cubic rot, please share them. I've only been able to find ones describing how it is formed, none on why it is so good for the soil.





 
Jocelyn Campbell
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The soil scientist and restoration ecologist (well, he does that kind of work, though I don't know if those would be the titles he would use for himself) who explained brown cubicle rot to us said it works like a sponge to retain water, which sounds like the opposite of hydrophobic.

Though perhaps the wicking action (and the eventual release) is incredibly slow as you surmised. Was the wood you used in the experiment below, exposed wood, or perhaps dried out? I wonder if the fungus goes dormant if it gets too dry and could take a while to be reactivated.

In the pic of the log in your container, the cube rot area looks darker, as if it was damp.

It's fun to see how you're experimenting with so many aspects of growing things!
 
Devon Olsen
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Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
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the brown cubic rot looks like some interesting stuff to learn
thats about the only way that wood rots around here when above ground(i have no idea what it does below ground yet)

EDIT: AWESOME OP on hugel-containers btw

the only container gardening im really doing is for my potatoes, with big buckets, so i never changed out the soil last 2 years now
last spring i mixed peat moss and compost as well as some native soil, i planted 3 potatoes per bucket and mulched with straw
with each layer i just piled soil on top of the last layer of straw mulch
at the end of the year i harvested my potatoes(better than plain soil but not near as good as expected) and then mixed the straw and soil together and left it over the winter
now this spring i went to check the pots when i came back to the land.... BLACK, RICH, AMAZING SOIL!
so i then removed excess soil, planted potatoes low again, and mulched with wood chips this time
now on the second of 3rd layer, i pulled mulch aside this time with next layer of soil and replaced it onto the top, this time, when i pulled the mulch back for the new layer, there was a spud growing right on the surface of the ground, under the mulch!
i pulled this spud and cut it in half and planted it in the hugelkultur bed, no plants coming up just yet from that but thats ok so far

i think as the years go on this is going to become better and better pots for potatoes, and i would bet harvest this year will be much bigger than last years.
 
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