low cost garden systems

chuck(Z10,SW FL)November 11, 2005

I have been working on some emergency garden designs, and thought they may be of some interest to frugal gardeners. The systems are easy to make and set up. Several are even suitable for ships as they are some what like hamocks in that they are suspended between posts. The last design is probably less than ten dollars to set up. I have a link below with some pictures. I am growing hot peppers, lettuce, egg plant, and celantro in the test units pictured.

Here is a link that might be useful: some easy to set up and use garden systems

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Clare(z6 MO)

What is the purpose? You have ground below your set up. Why not plant in the ground? Is your soil contaminated?

If your soil is contaminated, then do you bring in soil from elsewhere for these hammocks? Do you buy it?

What about soil compaction? In these hammocks I would think soil would become compressed both downward and towards the center of the hammock (toward the lowest point).

I do not seen any fully grown plants. Have you grown anything to maturity? Sure seems to me that plants grown upright in that set up would blow right over in a slight wind. The wind force on the leaves would not be offset by the small amount of soil in the hammock. Especially if you are using a soil mix designed to resist compaction (such as with pearlite), I think the soil would be too light.

And what kind of canvas are you using? Is there something that can withstand the constant sun, moisture, root penetration, and microrganisms? Is this canvass not going to split open and spill your plants in about a month and a half?

What about drainage and watering? Have you worked something out? Does the water not run toward the center low point, making the plant there have a damper soil than the plants at the edges. The amount of soil compared to the amount of leaf that a pepper gets doesn't look favorable to me. Seems like you might have to water three times a day.

So far, your peppers look a tad leggy to me. Can you comment, please?

And, finally, what about the temperature in your soil? I see you are in Florida and perhaps this time of year the temps of soil suspended in air is not a concern, but could you grow like this in the summer?

Please do keep us posted. It is a curious set-up and I'd like to see how it works out as your plants mature.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2005 at 12:50PM
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chuck(Z10,SW FL)

Hi Clare, thank you for allowing me to share more information about the emergency systems. The hanging troughs are made from rain coat material that I purchased at wal-mart. It is widely available from other sources. The plastic/cloth trough design was used because they can eaisly be folded up or rolled up for packaging in emergency kits. The depth of the troughs are roughly 10 inches. The watering frequency is low because the growing medium used is a baked clay aggraget slightly larger in size than playground sand. As you probably know, baked clay has a neutral ph, holds moisture like a sponge, and allows excess water to pass through rapidly. Also, plant roots will not stick to it. I have found that mature plants can be watered every other day here. The excess water/nutrient mix drips from the bottom of the trough through holes poked into it for that purpose. By paying close attention to the plants, the correct amount of water/neutrient to be added can be easily determined. The troughs are hung at an angle to prevent flooding from the sudden heavy down pours we get here in Florida. The rain water just flows down to the low end and runs off. The ends are sewn only about 2/3 of the way up just for this reason. I have taken new pictures today, 11/14/05 so that you might see just how healthy and happy all the plants are. The lettuce is ready to harvest. The cayenne peppers are about 3 inches long. All the plants appear normal to me, but see for your self using the link below. There, you will see all four of the emergency test beds. All but number 4 are drip feed to waste. The 4th unit is hand watered and as stated earlier, can easily go two days between the application of the water/nutrient mix. These are soil-less systems and are actually hydroponic systems. System one uses a 2X4 wood frame with blue tarp material and thin styrofoam sheeting to form the troughs. System 2 and 3 are both hanging troughs using rain coat material. The difference between them is that system 2 uses pvc pipe instead of rope along the sides and is used to carry the neutrients to the plants from an elivated plastic tank. System 3 uses a series of short pvc pipe spacers to hold the trough open and is also drip fed. The most likely system so far to be deployed for emergency use is the last system, system 4. It costs only a few dollars to make, and as you will see in the link provided below, the plants are thriving. Anyone who is disabled to the point where they can not bend or stoop will enjoy using one of these systems. That is why I placed a posting to this forum. I will be more than pleased to answer any questions about setting up your own system, or if you are moved to do so, make up emergency systems to send to areas where they will add just a little bit of happiness to those in need. Again, I am grateful to you Clare for the opportunity to share some more details of the emergency growing systems under development here. Sincerly, chuck you can email me at tlulutaylor@wmconnect.com

Here is a link that might be useful: Thank you Clare

    Bookmark   November 14, 2005 at 5:50PM
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chuck(Z10,SW FL)

Clare, I failed to address the stability question. The troughs are supported from above by wires that attach to the edge (sides) of the troughs, they go up to an overhead support rope or wire. This forms a triangle system that is evenly spaced along the troughs about every 12 inches. I have included pictures that I took today illustrating the suspension system that prevents any kind of roll-over in the strongest of winds. Triangles are known as the best arraingement for stability. Also, the baked clay aggrigate is quite heavy when wet. The trough probably weighs about 20+ pounds wet. Even dry, it is not light weight like vermiculite or perlite. By the way, in my second system design, vermiculite and perlite, 50/50 is used as the growing medium. The lettuce growing in it is ready to harvest now. I will be eating some tonight. The development of these systems has been an ongoing project for some time now. I always enjoy criticism and constructive advice. chuick

Here is a link that might be useful: Some of my other projects over the past five years

    Bookmark   November 14, 2005 at 6:08PM
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