25 gal SWC What soil mix?

sandygrannyMarch 3, 2012

I've just read tons of stuff on Al's Gritty mix and it sounds wonderful. The bb's in the pudding thing makes PERFECT sense. And I've been netsearching for about a month and am in total overwhelm.

I plan to veggie garden in 20 cut in 1/2 barrel self watering containers in the earth box style that I'm making myself. How can I possibly make enough of Al's mix to fill them and would it even work to wick the water up? My funds are "not unlimited" (lol) and my physical ability to care for the plants can be somewhat intermittent (getting old and creaky) is why I need self watering. I am open to suggestions and will list some of my "wonderings" for comments/input/groans/laughter below...

If the soil in the container is really porous do you need that air gap between the soil and the water reservoir?

With a mix like Al's could you put "soil" all the way to the bottom of the barrel, then add a certain amount of water to the bottom of the pot and use vertical shafts of coir to wick the water up to the roots? Or would you need a wick?

I could control the max amount of water in bottom of the pot by drain holes on the side... wouldn't need all the shelf and support structures...?

Should you put just a little coir all through, like strings of spaghetti through the bb's?

Would the roots of big stuff like "'maters" and squash do ok but radishes and lettuce never go deep enough?

Well - so much for my first plan of just throwing in dirt from the back yard 'til the tub was full and turning a hose on it once in a while...

And I want to say I REALLY REALLY appreciate all the posts I've read on here already.

Sandygranny

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drivewayfarmer

Sandygranny ,
I also use 25 gallon SIP's for figs and vegetables.
I think your best bet for the right soil mix is to look at the soil mix that Ray is using in this thread :
http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/contain/msg0213094821920.html
It is at the bottom of the same page where you posted.
You will find the info towards the end of his new earthtainer guide.
He has lots of experience with SIP's and is also in California , I think.
Gritty mix doesn't wick much and I don't think th 5-1-1 mix has adequate wicking either.
Good luck . I think you will be very happy with your SIP.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 9:07AM
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sandygranny

Thanks driveawayfarmer, that helps :-)

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 11:03AM
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drivewayfarmer

Sandygranny,
It may be worth looking at this site as well:
http://www.insideurbangreen.org/diy-sub-irrigation/
Lots of info on Sip's and different ways to make them.
This may also be helpful:
http://figs4funforum.websitetoolbox.com/post/subirrigation-containers-and-figs-5112306
Have fun.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 4:53PM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

"How can I possibly make enough of Al's mix to fill them and would it even work to wick the water up? My funds are "not unlimited" (lol)"

Think about what small commercial operations think? lol

I can show you how to make a mix for as little as $2 a cu ft with out buying anything in bulk. I can show you how to make this mix just walking into home depot. If you are interested let me know. Thats 7 gal of mix for 2 bucks!!!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 5:31PM
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onafixedincome(z8-9 CA)

I don't need to walk into Home Depot to make a mix. :)

I just head to the barn, sift a wormbed, and mix in maybe a couple of bucks' worth of a product called DryStall (it's like heavy perlite, kinda--I think it's zeolite or similar) from the feedstore and a handful or two of handmixed nutrients. (Whatever's cheap in bulk, usually bone meal, kelp meal, blood meal, a little cottonseed meal, fish meal...proportions vary depending on what I want out of it.)

Six cu ft plus of mix, grand total investment maybe $3-5 total for *exactly* what I need to make my plants go nuts.

Sandygranny, you might consider something similar if there are worm farms near you. You can also use almost-straight rabbit manure, if you have it, no composting required. Just soak, drain, and mix.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 3:08AM
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momovtwo(8 Central TX)

"I can show you how to make a mix for as little as $2 a cu ft with out buying anything in bulk. I can show you how to make this mix just walking into home depot. If you are interested let me know. Thats 7 gal of mix for 2 bucks!!! "

I would *love* to hear more!! :)

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 1:50PM
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4Hleader(5)

I'll second a request for TheMasterGardener1's container mix! One advantage of being in the north, I still have plenty of time to plan for this type of work!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 8:49PM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

1- 3 cuft compressed bale of peat
1- 40 lb bag of lime.
some perlite.

Take a contractor bag or garbage bag and fill with say for example 5 gals of peatmoss. Then add 2 tbl sp of lime per gal of peat. Wait 2 weeks for lime to adjust ph. Now add perlite say at 10-15% of the mix. if you can find "Pro-Mix" that is a great choice and will cost about the same, I suggest promix hp. Otherwise this mix works well. I made up a batch of this, my radish are thriving. I like to make own mix but I really like miracle gro potting mix with a dash of perlite added, it is very easy to grow in and has added micro nutrients.

I am also a fan of bark aswell after seeing how well the 511 works compared to peat based mixes.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 12:35AM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

I am sorry I forgot to say to add water (gal or so) to the bag if you want the lime to react.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 12:38AM
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terrybull

40 pounds of lime?

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 12:12PM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

"40 pounds of lime?"

Ummm, yea, it is about 4 bucks at Home Depot.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 5:03PM
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