Thursday, August 28, 2014

What I Learned From My 2014 Summer Garden

I wanted a record of this years garden.  The foliage grew so thick in the hydroponic section I was unable to track down a leak.  Usage became ridiculous and I ended up filling the sump twice a day with water rather than waste the hydroponic fertilizer. 

The bioponic systems did well.  Summer heat put a damper on everything including the tomatoes.  Even the squash seemed to regain vigor once the 100+ days passed.  Bell peppers in the hydroponic system did well, but failed due to blossom end rot in the bioponic systems.  I found [this article about Blossom End Rot] that may be helpful.

One Earthan bed became clogged by a root and I lost all the flowers on my Tomatillo, but even though a second set of flowers came back, I doubts I will get a crop.

My wicking barrels did not wick quite as well as I would have liked.  So I'll adjust the soil mix.  These barrels did not get enough sun in this location, so I will have to find a different location.  That is one of the best attributes of this simple low cost design.  Relocation is not a problem.

The vertical section will get a modification to the water supply.  I plan to install a check valve after the pump and a high pressure connection after that.  When the 1/4" tubes clog I will simply give it a blast of fresh water.   In fact this is how I will maintain the level in the sump tank.  Each time I fill the sump I will be clearing the 1/4" lines.

The 8W Earthan Bed system performed well over the summer.  Water usage was extremely low in both the wicking barrels and the 8W Earthan Beds.  Without a doubt I feel these two systems hold the most promise.  But one thing I've learned is that any garden that relies on a mechanical system is prone to some type of failure which places the wicking barrels squarely in the best position.

I began the season using weed teas, fish emulsion, and kelp in the 8W Earthan Bed and the Vertical Garden, but the Vertical Garden was abandoned due to high maintenance (clogging).

After the other bioponic Earthan Bed clogged I began to fear that the system might become clogged, but I now feel it would have been okay since it was a root not muck that caused the problem.

But this caused me to switch the 8W Earthan Bed over to plain well water with an occasional slurp of fish emulsion and liquid kelp plus a little Fe DTPA, MgSO4, and HCl after only a few weeks.  My goal for this system was to use no urine.

Clogging is a concern I will eventually have to face with all of the Earthan Beds as I doubt even the worms will be able to keep the rock bed clear forever.   The advantage is that the water stays well aerated which should increase plant vitality and vigor. 

Water use was extremely low in this systems even though I top watered every few days.   

I'm still enjoying handfuls of cherry tomatoes from every section of the garden everyday The soil less section of the bioponic system produced more cherry tomatoes than we could eat. This and the hydroponic section were the best performers.  I credit this to aeration and high nutrient levels.  The main bioponic garden (not the 8W garden) received about 50% of my fresh urine plus fish emulsion, kelp, Fe DTPA, MgSO4, and HCl.

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