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Survival and Preparations Long and short term survival and 'prepping'.

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  #1  
Old 03-28-2016, 2:30 PM
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Default Trying out Alaska grow buckets for the first time...

Gents,

I'm giving a bucket garden a shot this year, inspired by this video:



I've got this deck that runs the length of my house, unreachable by the hoards of garden destroying deer, which will be the perfect spot.
For starters, I'm going to set up 15 next weekend or so, and give them a shot. The cost on the wicking media was the only substantial outlay, so the cost is nice.

So far I've got all the materials, storage tank, float, and drilled all of the buckets.

Have any of you guys had any experience running these? Are there any gotchas that you ran into that you'd like to warn me about?

I'll post up pictures of the progress if anyone is interested.
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Old 03-28-2016, 5:27 PM
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I did that with Homer buckets a few years back with mixed results. Plants grew great but dry out too fast. Required setting the drip system to come on three times a day during the hot part of summer. I had mine suspended about 6' high from posts and the tomato plants loved dangling down towards the ground. Works great if you can keep an eye on moisture of the buckets. Combination of lots of leaves and little soil means lots of loss to evaporation and transpiration.

Now I use large horse troughs I cut the bottom out of. Lots more dirt to hold moisture. Great results.
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Old 03-29-2016, 6:26 AM
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That's the thing I like about this SIP system... the media is not dirt, but a wicking mixture, and the whole thing is self-watering without any power/timers needed. One cheap float valve, a garbage can for a water tank, and bingo.

One first thing that I have learned so far, is that every video and example I've seen of people doing this drives me a little crazy. The Italian side of me can't handle the slightly crooked and not evenly spaced vent holes. I managed to take exactly 3 times as long as I needed to in order to do the math, get everything perfectly spaced and aligned, then make a drilling template.
If I hadn't done that, I'd get twitchy every time I looked out the window and saw them on my deck.

I also discovered that I couldn't find grommets and the float valve at either my local home depot or Lowes... so I amazon'd those.

http://www.amazon.com/Hydrofarm-HGGR...ilpage_o00_s00

http://www.amazon.com/Kerick-Valve-M...0KFDHWZ8GAPHPN

Another flaw in the original design is the need for a drainage valve, in case you need to shuffle things around for whatever reason (sun, etc)... so I'll be dropping in a T right after the accumulator and putting one there, with a runout hose.
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Old 03-29-2016, 6:30 AM
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The inevitable explosion gets closer and closer, coming in little steps, but closer every day.
I say: "Let's do it and get it over with."
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Old 03-29-2016, 7:16 AM
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The bucket planters are also great idea for those that don't have a yard larger than a postage stamp.

I'd like to know more about how the hell you keep deer off/away the deck that has plants on it. Dogs? Harsh language? Spell casting?

RIP'd relative of mine lived in Ft. Bragg (the CA town) and she had deer, raccoons, skunks etc. eating every plant she had right off the deck. We'd be watching t.v. at night and one or more of the mentioned critters would come up and eat. We could see each other through the sliding glass door. Tame, entitled "wild animals".
She gave up on her plants and started leaving dog food out for them instead.
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Old 03-29-2016, 7:32 AM
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i keep the deer away from my deck with 22 snake shot.

good idea, i did something similar when i was living in my apartment in the bay area.
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Old 03-29-2016, 8:07 AM
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SIPs really are the best way to grow container plants/vegs. There are some vegs that don't like the constant moist soil though. Our bell pepper plants never thrived. Other pepper species, tomatoes, and most everything else loved it.

If you don't mind spending some money on premade products, the Earthbox planters work very well. The trellis is over priced but sturdy. Use your own planter/moister type soil with ph balance and slow release fert.

There are motion based water sprinklers that supposedly repel pests. I've never tried them yet but they look interesting.
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Old 03-29-2016, 10:30 AM
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I'd like to know more about how the hell you keep deer off/away the deck that has plants on it. Dogs? Harsh language? Spell casting?
It's the house layout. My place is on a slope, with the front of the house looking downhill through about 4 acres. The deck is the whole length of the house, and there's no way a deer can get up there unless he can jump a good 20 feet to get up and over the railing. Plus, there's no stairs.

There's about a dozen that keep most of the green down on the property, including the small front lawn area. I call them my delicious delicious lawn mowers.

Any other critters that harass my garden will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
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Old 03-29-2016, 4:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Citizen_B View Post
SIPs really are the best way to grow container plants/vegs. There are some vegs that don't like the constant moist soil though. Our bell pepper plants never thrived. Other pepper species, tomatoes, and most everything else loved it.

If you don't mind spending some money on premade products, the Earthbox planters work very well. The trellis is over priced but sturdy. Use your own planter/moister type soil with ph balance and slow release fert.

There are motion based water sprinklers that supposedly repel pests. I've never tried them yet but they look interesting.
Is there a slow release fertilizer you'd recommend?
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Old 04-19-2016, 8:58 AM
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Ok, first stage complete.

15 buckets in this pass... got the float-valve system working.



Lessons learned so far:

1. Get the water level tuned FIRST, then drain the system, and get the grow bags set up after. This way, you can see if you have any buckets that need to be shimmed

2. I used a little over 1.5 bales of Pro-Mix to fill the 15 buckets. Since this is the only piece that really affects cost, so do the math.

3. The 1/2 inch barbed fittings fit REALLY tight into the grommets.

4. It took over an hour to check the water level. They all normalize the water level, but it is a slow system.
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Old 04-21-2016, 11:28 AM
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Thanks for the update. What did you end up planting? Let us know what's working out for you. This year we're trying out some new vegs.

I didn't use straight peat like Pro-Mix. I use a moisture soil that is heavy in peat but includes some slow release fert. For nutrient intensive plants like tomatoes I supplemented with regular slow release fert in the soil and some on top. Lime may be helpful depending on ph and veg likes. I occasionally manually pour in some dissolvable type fert in water to give some vegs a temp boost during production phase. The constant water and additional fert is like steroids for tomatoes - they love it. For tomatoes just got to be careful about when/if you add additional fert, as the growth boost can split the skin. Same issue if the plant goes accidentally dry then max water during production phase.

End of season I dump all the soil out to let it dry and mix. Then amend it with fert and other micronutrients.
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Old 04-21-2016, 11:30 AM
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I had no idea this even existed. Looking into it for the greenhouse I'm buildinv.
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Old 04-26-2016, 7:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Citizen_B View Post
Thanks for the update. What did you end up planting? Let us know what's working out for you. This year we're trying out some new vegs.

I didn't use straight peat like Pro-Mix. I use a moisture soil that is heavy in peat but includes some slow release fert. For nutrient intensive plants like tomatoes I supplemented with regular slow release fert in the soil and some on top. Lime may be helpful depending on ph and veg likes. I occasionally manually pour in some dissolvable type fert in water to give some vegs a temp boost during production phase. The constant water and additional fert is like steroids for tomatoes - they love it. For tomatoes just got to be careful about when/if you add additional fert, as the growth boost can split the skin. Same issue if the plant goes accidentally dry then max water during production phase.

End of season I dump all the soil out to let it dry and mix. Then amend it with fert and other micronutrients.
I'm using a slow-release fertilizer near the bottom and a ring up at the top... since this is my first go-around, I'll be keeping a close eye on everything.
For this first phase, I've got a bunch of tomatoes, zuccini, bell peppers, ghost peppers, jalapenos, spinach, mustard greens, and some herbs like cilantro, parsley, thyme, etc.
Next weekend I'm expanding it, and adding a bunch of lettuce types, and a few soy beans.

I was expecting the cold to be quite finished by now, but we had a cold snap this weekend, and even some light hail. Thankfully everything has held up.

One thing I'm trying out on phase 2 is going to be a second water tank in series with the first, and I'm going to use some better T connectors I found at Lowe's that look like a better fit than the ones from Home Despot.

Thanks for the tips! I hadn't thought about drying out and re-charging the soil at the end of the season.
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The inevitable explosion gets closer and closer, coming in little steps, but closer every day.
I say: "Let's do it and get it over with."
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Old 04-26-2016, 8:12 AM
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Ghost peppers are great if you like spice. I don't care for the flavor (kinda 'musty') but the powder has lasted me for years and that was only one batch. I deseeded then dried them in oven low and slow. Don't do it when people are home though as it will fill the air with irritant. Could also dry outside in sun setup. After dry crush in mortar. Wear disposable gloves when handling/cutting fresh or wash hands extremely well after handling - it's no joke.

Careful with lettuce predators. We had some birds and then squirrels eat down out crop. Had to put a PVC net cage over them and start over.
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Old 04-26-2016, 8:13 AM
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Tagged

I thought the tread would be about pot!
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Old 04-26-2016, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Citizen_B View Post
Ghost peppers are great if you like spice. I don't care for the flavor (kinda 'musty') but the powder has lasted me for years and that was only one batch. I deseeded then dried them in oven low and slow. Don't do it when people are home though as it will fill the air with irritant. Could also dry outside in sun setup. After dry crush in mortar. Wear disposable gloves when handling/cutting fresh or wash hands extremely well after handling - it's no joke.

Careful with lettuce predators. We had some birds and then squirrels eat down out crop. Had to put a PVC net cage over them and start over.
I was hoping to try them fresh, I'll see what happens. Pain is my favorite flavor.

Every year my brother and I get a couple of bushels of Hatch chiles and have a big roasting/peeling/bagging party. It definitely can choke out the house. I'm doing them on the outdoor grill this year. For that we double glove, surgical inside of kitchen gloves... and the hot still manages to get through on the "very very hot" ones.
I'd try growing some of them, but when it's easy to get bushels from NM and do them in one pop, I take the easy route since I'm not using them fresh.
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The inevitable explosion gets closer and closer, coming in little steps, but closer every day.
I say: "Let's do it and get it over with."
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