Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bathtub vege garden update + unexpected bonuses

Back on the 6th March, we put in two bath tub gardens. Admittedly we did use seedlings to start with for the tomato plants, but barely two weeks later (mid the week just gone by) we had open flowers on the plants! Today we have several open flowers and the capiscum plants have more than their share of buds too. They're very very healthy plants too.

Before (at time of planting, 6th March, the day the beds were put together)

& photo taken today 26th March, a few days into flowering, 3 weeks after planting...

Alternative view, taken 6th March on the day of establishing the garden beds, with the end of the bed closest to the camera left unmulched as I put in seeds and mulch around them once they've become small seedlings.

Today, 26th March a few days into flowering, 3 weeks after planting.

Closeup. I'm busting to see how our favourite cherry tomato seeds would go in these beds~!

I was really surprised when I saw buds come out so soon after planting, and how thick and strong and straight the stems are on the plants themselves. Needless to say we're pretty impressed. I've also managed to source two more bathtubs, with hopefully one more on the way. Now to sell the cubby house to make space to put them in!

Downside is none of the lettuce seeds came up at all, but I have planted more and if that fails will either get some fresh seeds or some seedlings - we like lettuce and salads of all sorts, and even buying seedlings it's still cheaper than several lettuces a week.

Unexpected bonuses.
There's a couple of them, actually. When we first put the bath tub planters in, we thought that we would use the existing drainage hole (since it has thread on it already being a bath and having drainage fittings on it in a previous life) and run the drainage to the fruit trees.

This is still a possibility but what the current setup means, we've discovered, is:
  • we can water each bed once at the start of the week, allow the water to drain down and collect in the bucket/watering can underneath the drainage hole, then the next day, use that water to water the bed. Again, let the water drain into the bucket/watering can underneath and then tomorrow, use that water again. Not sure exactly how long you could do that for but at this stage, I think we could get a week out of the 'first water' especially in conjunction with the next point... which is that
  • apart from 'just planted' seedlings, the veges only need watering every second day - even on the hottest days. We're yet to see what this means in winter, and we'll def need something more permanent set up to deal with winter rain drainage (see, optimistically hoping we get good rain this winter!).
  • the collected drainage water is a lovely rich 'tea' that all the plants LOVE. If the bathtub planter beds are watered daily, and if I don't use the collected water that drains from that, on the bed again the next day... then I empty the bucket/watering can on the fruit trees... means several plants get good nutrient-rich feed in combination with their water. So really it's more water and plant efficient to water the bathtub beds daily and onsend the water and 'tea' from there, to the other plants and not hand water those ones. Double bonus - free plant 'tea' and reusing the water that would otherwise seep lower into the ground beyond the reach of the roots, never to be seen again. This way, the same water can water once, then twice and sometimes three times over - ie you water the bathtub beds, collect the drainage water and water the bathtub beds the next day with the same water, then on the third day donate that water and nutrients to the fruit trees. Yes eventually the bathtub beds will have less and less nutrients in them as the water carries through, but that happens in a bed regardless of whether you use the water once, or three times.
So having worked out a few years ago that we can water almost all our back garden from the water we collect in the kitchen sink (washing hands, washing veges, rinsing dishes etc) this means theoretically the water could be used about four times - once in the kitchen then three times in the garden, as opposed to once and then down the drain. Good stuff!

At this stage, it turns out that (partly by accident), we've got a very water friendly setup going that clearly the plants in the bed love, but other plants in the garden are also benefiting from ...and that we will benefit from in having scrumptious home-grown veges that we didn't have to pay for in the shop, that we know a lot more about what went into and on them AND that the scraps of those will contribute to feeding our chickens. Pretty happy with that!


Lesley said...

Awesome, looks fantastic Kristy, maybe it will give me much needed motivation!

Kristie said...

That is just fabulous...might have to invite myself for dinner hehe

Kristy said...

I'd love to see pics when you get things up and running, Lesley!

LOL Kristie - we gotta get more beds going ~then~ we might have enough for dinner. but thankyou :)

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