Andrew Jackman

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since Nov 11, 2014
Salt Lake City, UT
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Recent posts by Andrew Jackman

I'm not an expert, but I use Mars Hydro lights from eBay. They're cheap, durable, and effective. There might be better lights, but my plants are doing great.
2 years ago
I like that design. Direct exposure to sunlight is completely avoided and assembly looks easy.
3 years ago
In Hawaii, with a solar hot water heater, we had PVC melt and sag because of the temperature of the water running through the system. In addition, PVC is usually not UV stabilized, and will become, at the very least, brittle in the sunlight. I would not use PVC in anything directly plumbed to the thermal collector.

In addition, I would like to mention that legionella is known to be a problem anyplace where water is left to stand at warm to high temperatures. Consequently, I recommend using a heat exchanger of some kind to prevent standing water in a system exposed to humans.
3 years ago
https://goo.gl/photos/bsPXzAvW5vdKBZyx8

In this picture, you can barely see the dark spot on the bucket closest to the camera. That's where the hole is. You can also see the other experiments in progress all over the yard. It probably doesn't matter much, but I also line the buckets with garden cloth. It just keeps the dirt from flowing out the various holes whenever I water the buckets.
3 years ago
The hanging is just really convenient so we don't have to bend down and we can train the tomatoes to go up the twine supporting the buckets. If they were prettier, I wouldn't hesitate to put hooks in the eaves in front of the house. I don't think putting them on the ground would make much difference, especially if you were growing determinate varieties. I just think indeterminates are easier to handle if you don't mind pruning and training them. I water them every 1-2 days. I've had experts tell me that I water too often and I'm at risk for blossom-end rot because of it. The difficulty is that it's just so dry and hot. If I don't water frequently, I risk them dying. I've already had some serious damage on tomatoes because I didn't water them until the third day. Once I get the automatic irrigation going, I'll set it to every 48 hours and see how it goes.
3 years ago
I'm in Salt Lake City, and I started container gardening most because of my grandmother, who is 101 years old now. I wanted her to be able to see and harvest the tomatoes at her leisure, so I hung buckets from the trellis on her back porch. She has partial shade there due to a flowering vine that grows all over the trellis. I tried a variety of ways of growing the tomatoes, including growing them upside down, out a whole in the bottom.

The most impressive results came from using a standard 5 gallon bucket with the drain hole 2" from the bottom. The bottom was filled with straw up to the hole. The rest was filled with a mixture (no specific ratio) of compost, cheap potting soil, and garden soil as the grow media. The plants growing in these buckets grew far taller, bore fruit earlier, and seem much happier than any other tomatoes in my garden this year.

Right now, I am plumbing more buckets for next year with a makeshift 3/4" PVC bulkhead adapter (http://www.truetex.com/bulkhead.htm) and a garden hose adapter (http://www.homedepot.com/p/Orbit-3-4-in-Slip-x-MHT-PVC-Hose-Fitting-53361/100119737) so that I can collect and reuse the run-off from these buckets. I am also installing a catchment system with 330 gal IBCs, a submersible pump, a timer, and a drip irrigation system.

While not directly related to container gardening, I think mentioning our mulching method is very relevant. We bought straw from a local farmer for about $3/bale. We used the straw as a mulch everywhere. It was excellent at keeping moisture in the soil and reducing our need for watering. While we intend on establishing cover crops this fall to serve the same purpose, the straw was cheap and effective. The only unintended consequence was that the straw contained viable wheat, and we ended up with a lot of wheat growing in our potato bed this year.

We have also made efforts everywhere to grow anything anywhere to prevent exposed soil and to reduce the overall temperature of our property. Sunflowers, raspberries, strawberries, various vines, sunchokes, hens and chicks, and squash all spread nearly uncontrollably once established, and we just let them go unless we have another use for that section of the garden.

All of this is to address the issues of very hot summers, expensive municipal water, and direct intense sunlight. I hope some of this helps you survive next year.

https://goo.gl/photos/FGHrf63PnZfP3GEL9
3 years ago
Even if people want to do things their way, it doesn't mean they're stupid. If we were truly that stubborn, we wouldn't be participating in this forum. I share my knowledge with people that appreciate it. If I have any tendency to avoid larger social contact when it comes to permaculture practice, it's because I'm tired of hearing, "that's not the way it's done." As far as combining and becoming a greater force for good, I am skeptical about forming another club, group, etc. (bureaucracy?). What I want are friends, with whom I can share recipes, enjoy dinner, and share knowledge. People are more important than the process at the end of the day, and I want to care about the people with whom I share my work.
3 years ago
I'm in the SLC area.
3 years ago
Never seen such a thing, but it sounds awesome. My biggest concern would be weight. They use all kinds of interesting things like cork and expanded shale to make light-weight growing media to get around such limitations. You can also look at pond filter media as a growing media, which has been used in vertical gardens. The pond filter media is a rigid material and won't wash away, which would be a nice advantage.
3 years ago
Regarding time:

Everything I've seen with regards to earth bag construction indicates that you'll be spending a LOT of time building the structure. Even with a team. I've studied straw bale much less, but I don't think time is nearly the problem. It just takes a lot of muscle and time to fill those bags. Regardless of which you choose, you'll also have to talk to the county inspector to make sure he's on board with your plans. You may go to his office and ask him for the plans of the structures that you mentioned and ask about completion times, which seems to be your biggest concern.

If I were trying to get a home done in a month (which is basically what you're asking) and on a budget I would go with CMU construction. It takes a little practice to make it beautiful, but never really seen anyone complain about the time to completion.

Regarding sustainability:

Choose what you will, each has their drawbacks from an idealistic POV. Earthbags use woven polypropylene bags and all the staw bale construction I've seen ends up using cement pillars for support because county inspectors won't approve straw bales as anything other than an insulator. Since you've already put down a cement pad, I'm assuming it isn't that big of a deal for you either way.

3 years ago