2nd Aspirin spray plus updates

Today I did the second Aspirin spray on all vegetable plants plus the fruit trees and the berry bushes. It wasn’t quite 3 weeks yet but I figured since we had so much rain I better spray in hopes of forestalling any fungus episodes. For more info on this experiment, see here.

The watering through a wick experiment —see here, seems to be a success. The wick has not dried and the soil is moist even after a number of hot, sunny days. the surface of the pot has dried but the subsurface is moist. Now I need a plant growing in there to stress the system. So far, none of the herbs I planted in that container has sprouted.

And speaking of watering, something has come to my attention that I had not been aware of. Apparently, a sub-irrigated container, aka a self-watering container (swc), may prove too much for a young seedling. Small tomato plants especially may fail to thrive if they are in a sub-irrigated container that is moist all the time. I have noticed this myself with the smallest seedlings; they just won’t grow in these containers. The larger seedlings had no problem whatsoever and turned into full plants and are now producing fruit (yeah!). I know of at least one post in a blog whose link I unfortunately lost, where this problem was reported. That case involved a self-watering container made with 2 liter bottles. I personally think the swc was constructed incorrectly but I can’t prove it.

This next tip was reported a couple of years ago by someone else in a forum and I ignored it (typical!) at my own peril. It was advised to place a piece of garden fabric at the bottom of the sub-irrigated container to keep the roots of the tomato plant from reaching into the water reservoir (you place the fabric at the bottom of the bucket containing the soil).
The largest of my Brandywine tomato plants has already shot roots into the reservoir. When the plant does this, there is a danger of root rot and other things.
I have learned my lesson.

Last, I have an idea to fix my plastic watering spikes. The problem I am experiencing stems from the fact that last year I punched three wholes in them that were too large. The result of this is that the water seeps out too fast and the 2 liter bottle empties too quickly. I had hoped for a slow release of water that would allow me to water less often.
My proposed solution is to stuff garden fabric or an old cotton rag into the cone to slow down the flow of water. I will implement this later this afternoon and report on the results.

Over and out.

Busy day

I started this morning by pulling weeds off the melon raised bed. To this bed I added yard dirt plus compost so I had quite a few baby weeds to pull. Some watermelon seedlings were coming up already (Sugar Baby Yellow, and Sugar Baby).
I was surprised to find dozens of volunteer tomato plants in the bed. Last year, I grew one cherry tomato plant there that grew and grew and became this monstrosity. I dug up a couple of the volunteer tomato plants and transplanted them to a separate “bed” that I made from the remains of an 18 gallon tote. I intend to manage them better this year. Their parent plant was a heavy producer of tasty cherry tomatoes.

Then I prepared a spot and planted the black beans (Midnight Black).

Better late than never doesn’t apply in the garden but still I planted my peas (Mr. Big). I could not tell by the packet if they are vines. I thought all peas were vines. I’ll have to look it up later.

I added soil to the potatoes which are growing strong.

I checked on the Hollyhocks. They are coming up. I need to protect them from my dogs; they keep digging in the bed.

I put the rest of the peppers on the ground. This year however, I put garden fabric down to discourage weeds and grass and thus make it easy on me later.

Last, when I was at Lowe’s the other day, I found seeds of the yellow pear tomatoes that I liked so much 2 years ago and put a few seeds in a pot. I know I probably won’t get any of those tomatoes until late summer or early fall but what the heck.

The terracotta spikes don’t work; at least not as they come. After you screw the 2 litter bottle to the plastic attachment and insert both into the terracotta spike and fill the bottle with water, the water spills out instead of staying in the bottle to be delivered via the spike. Maybe I can figure out how to seal it.

There a few things left for me to do, like planting herbs and squash and mulching the fruit trees but I am close to being done with the planting phase of my operation.

Again with the watering

If it wasn’t such a darn-tooting important part of the whole process I would not be so obsessed with it. Plus, last year, it took me an HOUR to water the plants, not to mention the large amounts of water I used. I vowed then that I would become a smarter waterer.

My watering strategies this year are:

  • Using rainwater as much as possible. Rain water is free and rain water is free of stuff such as chlorine and residual pharmaceuticals. Where I live is not heavily industrialized so acid rain is not a big problem. By the way, “pure” rain is somewhat acidic, with a pH of about 6 because of the effects of carbon dioxide; or so it says in Wikepedia. There are discussions on the web about getting your rainwater off the roof of your house. The concerns have to do with the materials the roof shingles are made of and what kind of dust settles on the roof that then gets washed into the rain water. For example, the dust around here is dust from the farms around Wichita. The dust contains pesticides, herbicides and who knows what other “cides”. I am considering rigging some kind of temporary water-capturing jig using a tarp and rolling it out whenever rain is in the forecast and rolling it up when it is not.
  • Using sub-irrigated planters. I was calling these self-watering containers but the term sub-irrigated seems more applicable. Last year I tested one and I only had to put water in the container once a week, even in the middle of Summer.
  • Using watering spikes. Last year I bought plastic watering spikes. This year I complemented those with terracotta watering spikes. The plastic watering spikes released the water too quickly which was my fault because I drilled three holes on each. Now I know that I should have started with one hole. I have not tested the terracotta spikes yet so I don’t know how they do in this regard.

While we are on the subject of watering spikes, which you use in conjunction with a 2 littler plastic bottle, I learned this last year: cover the plastic bottle’s open end with some kind of fabric otherwise you will be cleaning debris and bugs out of them every day:

Also, because the spikes are relatively expensive, some people use the plastic bottle itself as a watering spike. When I read about this, I immediately thought about taking a needle or pin and making a bunch of tiny holes in the bottle to let the water seep slowly. I read somewhere that the tiny holes often become clogged with tiny particles of soil and the water does not come out.
So, we are advised to make one larger hole. I have not tried this so I cannot vouch for either hole-making technique but the advice seems sound.
When using watering spikes, the idea is to deliver the water directly to the root of the plant and thus eliminate putting water near the surface of the soil where it evaporates and does no one any good.
In a container, the setup would look something like this:

Whether you grow your plants in a container or on the ground, I would recommend that you “plant” your bottle at the same time you plant your plant. Keep in mind where the root of the plant is at now and where it will be in the future and bury the bottle accordingly:

Now I need to collect as much rainwater as possible. I’ve seen numerous home-made rain barrel designs on the web but I am unsure about making my own. There is a guy in Wichita (www.wichitarainbarrels.com) who makes very sturdy rain barrels. I am considering getting one more 50 gallon barrel but we’ll see.