Friday, August 3, 2012

Zero Cost Organic Container Update Aug2012

Been seeing some interesting results so far and learning a lot.

One big surprise is that the eggplants in the stumppot are doing the best.
Another big surprise is the peppers growing in mostly leaves are doing very well.
I didn't expected either of these to do well.

Here are the 6 vegetable containers (see previous post for explanation).

Here are peppers in the compost, leaf and branch mix.
Doing very well with most fruit set on all the plants.
This one is probably doing the best all around for the peppers.
These plants did and do wilt, but not as much as the just compost & leaf tub.

Here's the peppers in the compost and leaf mix.  This is what did well last year, so it was my "control" for comparison.  It is doing well, but the plants are much shorter and fruit set is not quite as much.
These peppers wilted a lot when first transplanted, and so took longer to get established.

This tub had 6" of compost on top with 1' of leaves underneath.
It has done surprisingly and unexpectedly well. Planted 2 peppers and basil.
These peppers wilted/wilts the least.  It grew the fastest and is still the tallest.  It does look a little "lanky".The far pepper has 4 large fruits, 2nd most of any of the pepper plants.  The close one just started to fruit, later than any others. It may be that it didn't feel stressed, so it is fruiting later.  Too early to tell how much fruit it will produce.
   The basil is doing well, more than we can use, but it is a little smaller than last year.
I didn't really expect to be able to get a good fruit set with the peppers growing in mostly leaves.  I thought the basil would do just as well as previously. Both assumptions where wrong; peppers are excellent, basil is smaller.

Here's an addition.  I made an air-pot and tried it out with just a heavier forest mulch mix, no leaves.
Even though the pepper transplants didn't wilt when in smaller containers, as soon as they were put in this large air-pot, they started to wilt.  Oh well, it seems that all the extra soil around the roots cut off the air enough to make it wilt after transplanting.

Here are the eggplants.  It is the best ever harvest so far for container eggplants that I have had.  Already harvested over 20 eggplants.  The stumppot on the left has done the best, no wilt (see vertical hugelkultur post).  This is very exciting and unexpected result, for me.  I definitely thought limiting so severely the amount of soil in the stumppot would have stunted the eggplant.  Just the opposite, it is the biggest I've grown.  And it has never wilted, not once.  When I transplanted the eggplants into this tub, the transplants were placed directly on the stump and the transplants soil still stuck up about an inch above the tub's soil level.  I believe this is one reason it didn't wilt when transplanting.  Being higher than the soil line helped it get better aeration when it was getting established in the new container.
This helped spark me into the whole transplanting & growing without wilt investigation.

Here are the pepper in the fast draining mix (1/2 bark, 1/2 turface).
These plants wilt very fast in any heat & sun.  For the first 2 months I watered them 2x per day on hot days to help them get established. After watering the plants would perk up very fast, faster than any of the other plants. However, 1.5 hours after watering they would start to wilt again. I believe that even though the mix felt wet, it was too porous and the roots were not making enough contact with the soil in order for it to wick up fast enough in the heat. For my "only-hot-sunlight-hours" location, I believe it would take a continuous drip to keep them going.  The plants obviously felt stressed with the extra wilting and watering cycle.  They started to set fruit the earliest and have the smallest fruit (and plant) size.
Seeing how fast these plants perk up when watered in the fast draining mix has produced a lot of ideas to try when attempting to transplant seedlings "wilt-free" in the regular garden.

Overall, not bad for only 4 hours of sunlight a day.


  1. Interesting results! Thanks for posting them.
    The eggplant results are amazing! I'm so glad you're doing this, since I'm in my garden planning stage.
    I had even thought about doing the "vertical trunk as edging around the bed" routine. It will be interesting to see how they hold up.


  2. Great blog!

    This is my 2nd year growing tomatoes in pure maple leaves. They're not as happy as they were last year, which I attribute to drought, but it's amazing to me they produce at all.

  3. Cool!

    How rotted were the stumps when you put them in??

  4. Kenny,

    For the stump maybe 1/5 of the top had brown cubic rot. Mostly it was totally dry and not rotted. About 1/3 to 1/2 of the branches were somewhat rotted.

    In these posts, at the end of the season, I dug up the containers and saw what was going on in the roots and wood.

  5. Do you drill drainage holes in the bottom container? Or is that used to hold water and protect the deck?