mulch for self watering containers
For you folks with larger self watering containers, could you please help me understand the plastic covering over these containers? I hear it advised for preventing evaporation and controling weeds. In the garden, we would use an organic mulch such as straw for that purpose while letting in rainwater. The plastic cover for containers seems designed to prevent the penetration of rainwater.
Water conservation does not appear to be the reason for these covers, or they would be done in such a way as to capture the rainwater. Would the penetration of rainwater into the self watering containers somehow disrupt the wicking ability of the container?
I am planning an experiment in the garden this year by making two self watering container raised beds 3' by 8'. The inside of the container will be lined with heavy plastic. For water storage, large drain pipes will be installed in the bottom and covered with weed barrier cloth to keep roots and soil from clogging the pipes. The composted soil will be spread over the pipes and along their sides for wicking water. I'm thinking that perlite and peat additions will help increase wicking? Earthworms will be added to the bed, and a couple of 'feeding stations' for the worms to keep them well fed and working hard. Oh, yes, and lime of course. Any other suggestions to make this raised bed more functionable? What fertilizer would you recommend?
I plan on doing another regular raised the same way but without plastic and pipes, for tomatoes, to use as a comparison to the selfwatering ones. One of the self watering beds will also be for tomaotes - there can never be enough tomatoes!!
I'm excited to experiment with this project, as I am planning to build a greenhouse this summer which will contain two raised beds. I want to make these beds long term and do them the BEST way possible.