I started up a test on my homemade Earth Box today.
It is a Catnip plant in a 2 gallon DIY Earth Box bucket. I thought i would share how i made it. Just in case anyone is interested.
You don't have to watch the videos. But, you will probably understand 'why' i did things better if you do watch the
videos. Just in case you want to see them.
First i watched this videos on UTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCU9LxTrBYo
The old fellow is Blake Whisenant the Earth Box inventor.
The next video shows how to plant in an Earth box, it's first in a 3 part series.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhfM2iMbQCY
For the two bucket home made system i watched this video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lE8OrdUZQKk&feature=related
There is a whole series of these DIY videos, that was the clearest one i found.
My setup is a little different. Most of the directions call for two buckets to make one container. I thought that was way too wasteful so i looked until found a video on UTube for using one bucket and its lid. I would point you to the video but i cant seem to find it again. It had no sound and i thought i would find a better one when i was bookmarking videos... Ah well. So here is how i made my one
You will need one bucket, its lid, a 1" PVC pipe 3 to 4 inches taller than the bucket, a piece of plastic (dark for the northern regions or white for tropics and sub tropics) and an old container to put in the bottom of the bucket.
Before you start find the inner container you are going to use. You will need to drill holes into the bucket at 1/2 inch below the inner false bottom so you will need to have the height of the container on hand first. Get something shaped like a flower pot wide enough to keep the false bottom from tipping over but not fill the whole reservoir space and strong enough to hold up the potting soil. For this small 2 gallon bucket the cottage cheese container should work well.
The inner part of the lid is used for the false bottom (screen) inside the bucket. The outer ring is used for holding the plastic cover in place on top of the bucket. The small holes are aeration holes, allowing air to reach the plant roots.
Cut or drill out the small holes first. They are supposed to be 1/4 inch holes. With mine i did all the cutting with a Dremel and nothing is real strait, i don't think it will matter.
Then cut out the two holes marked with X's. The filling tube (PVC pipe) will go in the small hole. I used the end of the pipe to draw the hole.
And the wicking pot (cottage cheese container) will go under the larger hole, holding up the false bottom, so the hole needs to be smaller than the wicking pot.
Next cut out the outer lid line. I had to cut up near the top edge to get a fairly snug fit inside the bucket. The snug fit helps to keep the false bottom from tipping over. In a five gallon bucket i may have to cut the lid somewhere else.
Here is the inner part of the lid showing the aeration holes. The outer ring (it's under everything). The bottom part of the PVC filling tube with a notch that will have to be cut out, to allow water to easily enter the reservoir.
The setup will look like this inside the bucket. Note the holes cut into the cottage cheese container. This allows water into the "wicking pot".
And a shot showing the inner pot sitting in the bucket and the holes drilled in the bucket. Ok, so two of them didn't show in the photo and i photo shopped them in. The holes in the bucket has two functions. They prevent over watering and allow air to the roots. The system isn't supposed to work well without them.
The home made Earth Box without the soil.
When planting you need a very light mix of soil.
You can find some planting mix recipes from http://www.globalbuckets.org/
In addition to the potting mix you will need agricultural lime and fertilizer (in my test case vermicompost). They must be added at the top part of the bucket. To pot up plants:
Add the potting mix and push the soil down in the middle above the wicking cup. Making sure that the soil is pushed firmly down inside the wicking cup and all the way up to just below the plants roots. Allow all the rest of the potting mix to stay fluffy. Fill almost to the top then mix agricultural lime into the top 2-3 inches. Then add more potting mix to over fill the bucket (1 inch or so, should be mounded) and plant your plant in the center. Then make a grove around the outside edge of the soil and fill the grove with fertilizer or in my case vermicompost. Cover grove with another layer of potting mix ( 1/2-1 inch ). The potting mix should form a mound higher than the top of the bucket when done planting. (When planting seeds plant them after the cover is in place.)
Then add the plastic cover. I used an old black shopping bag. I cut holes for the plant and the watering tube. And covered the top. Securing the cover in place with the ring made when cutting up the lid. You do need the plastic cover for the system to work right. You will water the plant from the top once just a little bit, to make sure there is liquid running from top to bottom then there after water through the PVC tube. All the water will wick up from the bottom. The plastic cover prevents rain water from entering the "pot" and washing away all the "fertilizer" in the soil and allows the plant to grow with less water (prevents evaporation).
I have never been able to find out anything about people using vermicompost in the Earth Boxes so i guess i am probably one of the
first to test it out. I made another change from the directions, using egg shell instead of agricultural lime. There just isn't any agricultural lime available this early in the year. Planting season will not be starting in these parts until around May or June. So that should allow plenty of time to test out how well the setup will work out.
I plan to plant lettuce and radishes in these small buckets to test out the system. One each with vermicompost and one with organic fertilizer as my control when they become available in the area.
My first test pot. A Catnip plant in the Earth-box setup.
Now if i can just keep the cat from finding and eating the Catnip plant i will be able to see how well it works.
Catnip wasn't my first choice it was the only potted plant i could find this time of year.