Zero Cost Organic Experiment 2012

emgardenerMay 16, 2012

Zero Cost Organic Experiment 2012

For the last 2 years I've been growing vegetables in containers with only materials from the yard for mix and fertilizer.

What has done best is forest floor mulch. Also a mix of half dried leaves and half old mix (basically compost) has done quite well. Only fertilizer used is ashes and HLF (human liquid fertilizer).

This year I'm continuing experimenting. Read about Hugelkultur garden beds, basically burying logs under a raised bed. I put some of these in my in-ground garden and thought, well why not try it in a container also!

Made one container with big stump in it:

Made 2 containers by layering up branches and mix.

Here is this years container lineup.

Back row left to right:

* Mix is: old mix + leaves + branches. Plants 3 peppers.

* Mix is: old mix + leaves. Bottom 6" of container is only compressed leaves. The idea here is that the bottom of the containers accumulate fine mix over the season. With just leaves at the bottom it might not develop into the usual heavy muck.

* Mix is: Bottom 1 foot of container is only compressed leaves. Top 6" is only old mix (thick compost). It would be great if this works. It is the easiest to set up. Just empty old mix from the tote. Then walk around and fill the tote with leaves, compress them by standing on them. Then just put a 6" layer of the old mix on top and it�s done. Also this is the lightest container.

* Flower container, mix is leftover turface, bark, & peat. I�ve put in a "clay pot reservoir" which will be filled with diluted HLF. The idea is to see if I can cut down on fertilizing frequency and make the container more maintenance free.

Front row left to right:

* Not organic. Mix is half turface, half bark. I�ve never had good results with these mixes. In a hot dry climate you need to water at least once a day and many times more than once to prevent wilting. This isn�t something I can sustain. So the idea is to use a "clay pot reservoir" to help cut down on the amount of watering & fertilizing. The pot will be kept full with a diluted foliage pro solution.

* One huge stump surrounded by old mix. This is the heaviest container. A saturated stump is quite heavy. I don�t have high expectations from this one, (but do have high hopes!). The mix is heavy and so is the stump, so probably will not have enough aeration. Only planting eggplants in this one, as they like it wet.

* Branches combined with old mix. This is also heavy. Planting eggplants in this one also.

I glued a clay pot and clay pot saucer, and pvc pipe to make a porous reservoir which is buried about 2" below the surface. I'll see if this will cut down on watering and fertilizing in a fast draining mix.

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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

That is not really a zero cost project. You need to buy the tubs and the hose for the drip and the turface, which is expensive. To make it zero cost you would have to put them in the ground using only food scraps you collected yourself without adding anything that you had to buy such as fertilizer. I think it would be a long time to make back the money spent on tubs and such just from the food grown in them.

But, I think it would be a good idea to try and do that. My weather is kind of bad for crops, but if I had an acre in Sacramento it would be fun project. You would have to use seeds that got for free from a seed bank. Maybe one could get containers free from finding them somewhere? Run an add on craigslist and ask for unwanted containers.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 11:52AM
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All true.

5 of the 7 tubs are "zero cost mix & zero cost fertilizer".
That would be a more accurate title, but it just doesn't sound very catchy.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 3:29PM
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Theres always a critic!

Just kidding....while its not zero cost its certainly close when compared to what I have invested in getting my very "Sanford and Son-esque" container and in ground garden expanded for this year!

Looking forward to this years results, keep everyone posted.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 8:49PM
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