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experiment to deal with pure sand and high water bills

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latest report

Post  walshevak on 4/20/2011, 7:11 pm

Bed #1 - 2 weeks without rain, temps in the upper 70's and lower 80's and being watered only from below. Looking pretty good.


Bed 2 - completed 4/13 peppers and tomatos are in this one. Has seeds planted so still watering from the top. This is where the carrots for carrot week are planted - on the grid.


Bed #3 - finished yesterday peppers and tomatos and seed. Will have to be watered from above for a while. Ran out of twine for grid.


Peas in convential garden. Not doing so well. Can't keep up with watering


Flower bed for DIL. Except there are 4 eggplants in the middle. completed yesterday. ran out of twine for grid, will catch it next trip in May.


What I'm finding out from bed #1 which has 9 wicks. The wall edges tend to dry out and pull away from the wood. The middle stay moist all the way to the top. A water meter registers moist except for the very edges. I increased the number of wicks to 12 in bed #2 and 18 in bed #3. The wicks in these beds are not as big around as the ones in bed #1. And the beds need to be filled about every 3 days. Still a lot of water, but it's almost all going up into the bed and plants, not down into the water table. I don't know how much evaporation action is happening, and we didn't put down any mulch on top.

And the county just announced a 12% price hike after raising rates twice last year.

Kay

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Re: experiment to deal with pure sand and high water bills

Post  elliephant on 4/20/2011, 7:36 pm

Really makes me grateful I don't have to deal with high water bills as I am already having to water every single day. I have one self irrigated planter going this season and the plants (peppers and tomatoes) are doing so well that it makes me anxious to do more of the same for next summer. So glad you are doing this experiment this year so I can learn from your experiences!

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Re: experiment to deal with pure sand and high water bills

Post  walshevak on 4/20/2011, 11:05 pm

I'm also hoping the tomatos stay healthier with the steady supply of water.

Kay

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Re: experiment to deal with pure sand and high water bills

Post  Furbalsmom on 4/21/2011, 1:25 pm

Kay, this is such a great idea.
So glad you are keeping us posted with your comments and progress. Looks like this will be a good solution for those with sand under their SFGs.

We have quite a few gardeners that need a way to keep the water bills down and the garden hydrated.
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latest pics

Post  walshevak on 5/9/2011, 8:28 am

Here are the latest pics of the "pond" beds. As you can see the greenery is going gang busters. My son has been doing cut and come again on the lettuce and turnips greens. Time to cut the chinese cabbage again and the spinach could stand some clipping.



Opened the end of bed 2 to allow the upo (edible gourd) to reach for the fence. And the cuke is looking for a trellis. My goal this week is to put up trellis for these beds



Opened the end of bed 3 to allow the asparagus beans to be trained to the fence.



Here are the carrots from carrot week



These beds only get an ocasional top watering along the bed edges which tend to dry out faster. The rest is from the "ponds" below.

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Re: experiment to deal with pure sand and high water bills

Post  Furbalsmom on 5/9/2011, 6:12 pm

Looks like your pond beds are successful and overcoming the sandy soil issue.
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latest update pics from 5/16

Post  walshevak on 5/17/2011, 10:43 am

Here are pictures of the last time I will see this garden until Sep. Sad But I hope to enjoy my summer working in Austria. My son has promised to send me pictures all summer long. I will just abandon my own garden and restart in the fall.

Bed 4, final bed for this season. Planted with 4 cantaloupe and 3 watermelons. Trellis will be added. Has 4 spaces available in middle.


Bed 3 after a good harvest of kale and pruning and trellising the tomatos and asparagus beans.



Bed 3 different view


Bed 2 Tomatos pruned and trellised along with cukes


Here's the edible asian guord that may take over the whole place. Sorry forgot to rotate before copying.


Bed 1 - the greenery. 3 views. This was the first bed finished and planted. It has already provided 3 weeks of salad, kale, chard, bok choy, spinach, and chinese cabbage leaves. And the chinese cabbage is heading up nicely.







The babysitting bed. Made this one in a hurry to hold all the tomatos and peppers and 2 eggplants that I dug up from my garden and transported.



Also filled up some red and yellow containers of peppers and tomatos that I had not had a chance to put into my beds yet. Turquoise pots are the herbs.



And the flower bed to appease the daughter in law. It also caught some squash and eggplants.



All the "pond" beds (except the latest which still has just seeds) are only being watered from the tubes. We are topping them off twice a week. The water meter registers 9 at the bottom and 7 in the middle and 3-5 near the top. No mulch, but the plants are providing plenty of shade to the soil surface. They just exploded.

In another thread, a suggestion was made about TTs to catch the water that drains through them to use as compost tea. I'm thinking the drainage from these "pond" beds is being trapped in the pond and wicking back up, not wasting any of the good nutrients from my 5 composts.





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Re: experiment to deal with pure sand and high water bills

Post  walshevak on 5/17/2011, 4:52 pm

Forgot to include the Pi R squared flower garden. My DIL helped me dig it out and add vermiculite and more compost. We had built it last Aug using peat and compost, so was an easy fix.


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Re: experiment to deal with pure sand and high water bills

Post  buttaflie143 on 5/17/2011, 4:59 pm

I love your ingenuity. The things we do for our children.





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summer report and fall garden

Post  walshevak on 10/18/2011, 9:45 am

The pond beds were a mixed bag. The spring garden produced so much it was impossible to eat it all. My son gave away a lot of chard and kale. The summer garden produced some, but even the ponds couldn't keep up with the heat and dry this summer and his lack of knowledge on squash bugs and borers. (and a water sucking asian gourd) Harvested some tomatos, a few cukes, a few squash, and the kale held on till mid summer, but by July only the melon bed and jalapeno and purple cayene peppers were still holding on. Peppers are still producing. The melon bed produced some really sweet sugar baby melons and some terrific cantaloupes, but my son left most of them on the vine too long and a lot went bad. (momma was in Austria and couldn't get down for a visit.) Also, I've never grown melons and didn't know how to advise him. Mid summer he pulled all the tomatos, cukes, upo (an asian edible gourd) and the spring greens and melons. There are a few onions and a couple of carrots left in the bed, but not many were planted in the first place. In early Aug he planted some asian long beans and in late Aug some kentucky wonder beans. They are still producing, but are winding down now. The basil all died down, but in late Aug started to put back up plants. It reseeded itself and now we have 1/2 a bed of lemon basil and several thai basil plants. He also sowed some collards, chard and russian red kale seeds. In mid Sep when I got here, I put in starts for broccoli, winterbor kale, chard and various lettuces. And all are doing well with only weekly watering.

kentucky wonders, broccoli starts, lettuce starts



same as above but only 1 spinach seed sprouted


reseeded lemon basil, winterbor kale starts and a few onion left from spring



jalapeno and purple cayene peppers and a few carrots left from carrot week falling over into the asian long beans.


asian long beans, reseeded thai basil and some lettuce starts



collards from seed, chard starts and 1 seed sprouted, russian red kale from seed and lettuce starts.


we have already had a salad from this.

Things learned: more water even with the ponds, provide some summer shade, don't plant water sucking asian gourds even if they are good to eat, learn more about squash and cucumber beetles and borers, slow watering the melon beds earlier/pick melons faster, watch spacing or harvest smaller, and add more beds for summer crops and a strawberry bed.

Will start another thread to discuss the babysitting beds.

Kay





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Re: experiment to deal with pure sand and high water bills

Post  walshevak on 10/18/2011, 11:17 am

Forgot to add that the water bill, although increased, was not nearly as high as last year when we had 6 inground beds of just peat and compost on top of the sand and nothing grew past early July. This included 4 pond beds and the 2 babysitting beds that were MM but not pond beds.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to add that the 2 teens in the house were gone most of the summer. Smile

Kay

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Re: experiment to deal with pure sand and high water bills

Post  Lemonie on 10/18/2011, 2:07 pm

It was so great to see your tutorial and progress. This was my first year gardening and I did wicking beds as well to help keep the water bills down. While I was pleased with the overall project and outcome...there is always room for improvement. For my "wicks" I used leftover large butter and yogurt containers and drilled tiny holes in them similar to your cups. To save on the MM, I stuffed the containers w/ old T-shirts/sock/blankets/towells...absorbent materials that would've been thrown out. I then packed them down as much as possible and topped w/ MM. One thing I will be looking to fix (should be easy) early in the spring is to cut a large enough whole in the bottom of my containers and pull some of the fabric through so it will touch the bottom of the boxes. Right now, there is about 1.5in of space between the bottom of the water cistern box and the wick. Also, I need to make a gauge to check my water levels- I usually just felt down a few inches for dampness but think I went too long between a couple of vital growing times which stressed the melons and squash. Also, I learned that sunflowers have HUGE root systems and are water hogs...so I'll try those in the ground next to the fence next year instead.

We are planning on building more boxes next year (sounds like the theme around here) and I'll hopefully be diligent enough to do pics on it then.

Great JOB!
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Re: experiment to deal with pure sand and high water bills

Post  plantoid on 2/7/2012, 2:31 pm

I'm bringing the thread back as a fantastic way of making the best of what you have by thinking differently .

I love the ingenious way of using the polyestyrene cups .


My thoughts for someone coming in as a beginner doing this ...........

Lining the wood of the beds with some of the pond liner material will stop the wicking out through the timber frame . The buytl pond liner has an estimated life of 30 years or so

Auto watering .
There are some shallow ball cocks that you can fit in a small square plastic tub to keep the pond filled to a set level . It would be a simple matter to insert such a ball cock into a lidded but pre holed box and slip it into the pond . Weight it down & /or raise it to give a predetermined level of water in the pond , bring out the feed hose to the ball cock tank via the old filler tube and run a whole series of hose and " T" off junctions to each pond bed.

When I had the small mammal farm the ball cocks we used on the auto watering systems that had 50 gallon reserviors were able to fit into a three inch space from top to bottom and about 8 inches in length .. mine were designed to be used in the toilet flushing water cisterns and they had a small barrel shaped float not the normal 4 inch round ball .

Making the liners for the wicking tubs....easy ....use old or new nylon mens socks , they don't rot .

If you don't like the idea of auto watering , use a simple light thin plastic tube with one end sealed up and slip it sealed end down the water filling tube ,mark it with red when it is pushed down to the floor of the pond .

Take it out to fill and insert it again after filling the red will show above the top of the filler tube and give you an indication of how much water is in the pond.
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Re: experiment to deal with pure sand and high water bills

Post  marietta mike on 7/6/2012, 3:29 am

This being my first year as a gardener i was not ready for the larger then normal water bill. I water the garden area everyday either b4 10am or after 5pm to help with evaperation. I also use mulch. The first water bill jumped $75 the second $200. Junes water bill was $325. The daughter will be home for a couple weeks soon for college break so i expect it to go up again. She is a long showerer. lol..
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Re: experiment to deal with pure sand and high water bills

Post  walshevak on 9/10/2016, 7:51 am

Bump for newbies making plans for next year.

Beds are still in operation, but some of the wooden beds are ready to replace.  Never did get the water barrels set up so still watering from the hose.  Harvest this year was disappointing but I was late starting and never got my tulle put up. Bugs did me in.   Think it is time to add more MM not just compost.

Kay

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Re: experiment to deal with pure sand and high water bills

Post  sfg4uKim on 9/10/2016, 8:30 am

Thanks for the update.

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