How to rescue wet compacted veggie containers
I built several 3' high garden racks this year with a pair of 3' x 2' x 8.5" deep plastic cement mixing tubs per rack. I am watering with rain water (unless my four 55 gallon drums run empty) and growing vegetables like cucumber, lettuce, and tomatoes, herbs like basil, and some fruit like canteloupe and watermelon.
It's great fun but the soil is just not right and I am wondering what the best actions are to rescue my fruit and vegetables and make the best of things.
I started with pea gravel in the bottom of each container and Miracle Grow soil. I have witnessed that this soil compacts quickly and stays wet (perched soil) and that the pea gravel is just wasting space. Several popular posts here warn about this and, well, I guess I just had to figure it out for myself. As it comes time to reclaim a container I can use Tapla's soil recipe, but what about for my watermelon that is suffering, or my eggplant, e.g.? Do I try to replant them and start with a fresh mix of Tapla's soil recipe?
Also, what would be a good thing to use as an absorbent wick to hang out of the bottom of each container?