k9paws
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Organic Container Gardening

I'm interested in oragnic container gradening. One of my main questions is that since some of my containers are pretty large and buying potting soil can get expensive, can I mix the potting soil with dirt from my yard. My concern is that a mix of this nature may not drain well. My yard is mainly red clay and sand.
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hendi_alex
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You will want to augment the soil with something that will promote good drainage, especially in the bottom one third of the container. I would suggest adding some inexpensive lava rock from a discounter like Lowes or perhaps just add in a good amount of styrofoam packing noodles into your soil mix.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
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k9paws
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Organic Container Gardening

henid alex
If I were to mix rocks with yard dirt in the lower third of the containers, dirt with potting soil mixed in and potting soil in the top third, would that work?
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hendi_alex
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My guess is that it would, but IMO you would still have to be carefull with your watering schedule. Some extra perlite mixed in with the top portion would make it less likely to over overwater and get root rot. I think that overwatering is the number one problem causing plant loss in container plantings. Compact or very dense potting soil contributes to that problem, so I try to err toward the loose, low density end of the spectrum, and always keep a big bag of perlite on hand to blend with my planting medium used in container.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

k9paws
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Thanks, hendi alex,
I have several of the grow boxes that are self watering, but the containers I am concerned with are the large ones that liquid cattel feed comes in. I'm trying to figure out if I can make them work like the grow boxes make them basically self watering.
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hendi_alex
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I've never tried this idea, but think that it should work. What if you got two five gallon buckets, and placed one inside the other, with some kind of spacer to keep a decent reservoir in the bottom bucket. Drill a watering hole and overflow hole in the side of the bottom bucket, just below the level of the upper bucket. Drill a hole in the middle of the upper bucket and constuct some kind of wick to insert. Perhaps buy some fairly thick cotton rope. Fill the top bucket with planting medium, but lift the wick so that it rises near the center of the soil.

Wouldn't that work as a self watering arrangement. Seems to me that as the top dries, that water would wick up the rope path and into the soil. I've also thought of trying that same approach, but with bottom trays. Set the upper bucket in a bottom tray, but spaced up on pebbles, brick pieces, or whatever. Then drill a hole in the bottom of the planter and insert the wick from inside the planting pot, down into the bottom tray filled with water. Sees that mosquitoes would be a problem with that arrangeent though, with the water so accessable. Perhaps would be better to let the planter overlap the bottom tray instead. So as to seal the water off from critters.

As a last variation, it would seem to me that most any kind of container with a wick inserted could work as a self watering arrangement. Take a regular 2 liter coke bottle for examle. Drill an appropriate sized hole and insert wick material. When filling the planter with soil and plant, simply bury the coke bottle with wick while leaving the opening just above the soil line. Just water through the coke bottle opening, and allow it to slowly wick to the plant.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

k9paws
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Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2009 6:29 pm
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hendi, alex
The grow boxes that I purchased are two piece. The bottom is the reservoir and has two stands with holes in them that connect to the upper box. The stands are packed with the potting soil and work as a wick to move water to the upper box as needed. I’m basically on the same plane of thought that you are. I’m thinking that since the containers I’m using are pretty big that I will put two 5â€
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