SWC Container mix & wicking; input requested

col_sprg_maters(Front Range 5)July 23, 2010

I am thinking of making a SWC prototype, and would like some feedback from SWC users:

What type wicking material and mechanism did you use?

Which soil/mix recipe did you use?

Were you satisfied that this supplied the appropriate amount of water, did you want more or want less water?

One SWC idea that intrigues me is to put a 5gallon water bucket inside of a 31 gallon Tote with Raybo mix, then wick sideways from the bucket to the tote with a manually adjustable wicking valve.

After running several experiments, some options have been ruled out-- the 5gallon bucket in a 5 gallon bucket for one.

Thanks for the responses


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sprtsguy76(Santa Clara Ca. 9b)

I believe the answer in how much water a wick will wick lies in what the wick is made of and how bis it is. You also have to consider whats in the mix above the wick. I personally had good results with A1's 511 mix plus one additional part peat as both the main mix and the wick in my swc's. I've gone as far as tweaking a mix together that was 6 part fines 1 part peat and 1 part perlite with good results. I also really like Raybo's idea in adding the double layer of quality landscape fabric. I went with one layer of the landscape fabric this year and wish I had added two layer's. I Really like the idea of a manually adjusting wick valve but have not tried anything of sorts yet. But to be perfectly honest I have found the taste results with tomatoes etc to be average or below in swc's compared to traditional pots or inground.


    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 4:37PM
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Damon, in your other post on using modified 5 1 1 you said you loved the taste of your SWC tomatoes now. Have you changed your mind?

I have experimented with a 'dryer' mix too in SWC because I found too many times a predominate peat mix is fine for the season but too water retentive to reuse unless you empty out and refresh. But many EBox users just replant right in the same mix for years. (I don't know how they are able to do this.)

Like Ray, I also thought that a dryer mix 'should' make the tomatoes taste better providing that you have sufficient potassium which is also important for flavor. But you would never know for sure without doing 2 boxes with the same variety in both boxes.

But I still think those layers of fabric cut down on air flow and make the mix wetter so it would be doubly important to go with a more porous/less water retentive mix. ( A too wet SWC, it would stand to reason, would be like over watering and diluting flavor in a regular garden.)

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 7:50PM
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sprtsguy76(Santa Clara Ca. 9b)

farkee- If you carefully read my previous thread I mention nothing about my modified mix in swc's, and maybe I wasn't clear enough, but I was speaking of strictly using this modofied mix in traditional potting culture not my swc's. ;]


    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 12:35AM
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Damon, sorry about that, I did misread it and assumed you used it in your SWC for some reason.

I wanted to use Fafard 52 in a SWC (predominately pine bark fines-60%) but couldn't find it again so I mixed 2 parts PBF to 1 part potting mix for use in an earthbox as a substitute.

Got some really delicious Brandywines in a SWC BUT I didn't have a control box to compare it to see if the great flavor was just due to the variety or the mix.

My primary purpose was just to have more pine bark for longevity. I want to reuse EB without emptying out.

I read a couple of years ago that commercial growers of peppers near me reuse pine bark mix for 3 years.

Maybe the protek contributed to your great flavor in your regular containers as I have read nutrient charts that direct commercial soilless growers to use more potassium than N at all stages of growth. And according to ext. literature K is particularly important for flavor. (but don't use excessive K as too little K as well as too much K is not good)

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 8:57AM
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