Sunday, 2 November 2008

A new approach

You may remember where this blog started. Sadly, after a cold winter and a work-life balance that leaves a lot to be desired, it's pretty much reverted to its wild state.

We seem to have gone form winter to summer with not much time to adjust between them, and it's looking like a hot, dry one ahead. I am still very busy with work, and much as I might want to get outside in the dirt, it's not looking like I will have oodles of time to spend pulling out couch grass from the vege plots every week. I want to produce more food in the backyard, but it's been all too hard to get started again, so I've been casting about for a new approach.

I have heard recently (from several sources) about Earthboxes. They're like rectangular self-watering pots, so two BIG pluses right there - pots = no couch grass, and self-watering = less likely to kill through neglect. They're plastic, which is not ideal, but is pretty durable. They're imported, and they're not cheap (just under $AU70 each). BUT they're available through Bunnings, so available to start now.

After much thought, and late-night input from a wise Crone (and I know how hard it must have been for you to semi-approve of this L), I decided to buy a couple and see how they go. Of course, staff at the local Bunnings had no idea what I was talking about, but we eventually tracked them down at one a little further away. While there, I also noticed a large ceramic self-watering pot, so that might be an alternative at some stage ...

We came home with two Earthboxes, potting mix, and seedlings, and a couple of wall pots that the husband has plans for.

I discovered that I needed two large bags of potting mix for the two boxes, so at this stage only one is potted up (who knew potting mix came in bigger than 30L bags?).

The black tube on the lower right is the watering tube, which feeds into a reservoir at the bottom. The water wicks up into the soil and to the plant roots as needed - all I need to do is keep the reservoir topped up. I think I can manage that.

Once the potting mix was in, I mixed in dolomite, then formed a ridge of potting mix along the middle of the box lengthways, into a which I pressed a shallow trench into which the fertiliser is laid. And that's all the attention it gets at soil level for the whole growing season.

Then the plastic cover goes on (which acts like a mulch, keeping warmth and moisture in, and weeds out). Cut X's for the plants, as far away from the fertiliser strip as possible, and plant seedlings (or seeds) into the holes. Water them in (from the top just this once), and remember to keep the reservoir topped up, and that's basically it. I'll need to provide support for the peas (at the top of the photo), and snowpeas, but it's all pretty straightforward.

The indentation at the bottom of the pot is an overflow, so I can't overwater.

The second Earthbox will have capsicum, spinach and maybe a cucumber (although I need to check if they'll be happy together first).

The husband is motivated to set up his hydroponics again, and in charge of tomatoes and strawberries. And he bought a Queensland blue pumpkin to take over the rest of the yard!

During the week, the MIL brought round a pot of lettuces. She doesn't give up on me, despite the fact that I've neglected many of her gifts to death! They're all loose leaf lettuces, so I can pick leaves as required. The pot is sitting on the front step, and the kids empty their waterbottles onto it when they get home from school.

1 comment:

Dani said...

I've seen these advertised. I'll be interested to hear how it works for you. Keep us updated.