Sustainable Living Center Oregon
Garden on the Deck
First, you have to understand what made the Garden on the Deck work, you have to understand Wicking. Have you ever wondered how plants are able to feed themselves from the ground upward? It’s called “capillary action”.
If you want to experience and see it happen, place 3 cups next to each other. Fill the first and third cup with water, leaving the center cup empty.
Add several drops of yellow food coloring to the first cup and red food coloring to the third cup.
The Wicking Process
Twist a paper towel to form your “wick.” Place one end of the paper towel into the yellow water and the other empty cup. Do the same with the second other paper towel and the red water cup.
Results in 15 minutes
The paper towel from our yellow water is completely saturated and beginning to drip into the center cup.
Two hours later the middle cup will have the same amount of liquid as the other cups, all without us doing a thing.
Roots, in normal plastic containers, grow to the outside edge of the pot and then circle around and again.
Our Veggie Sacks made with recycled plastic water bottle and natural fibers, such as jute, vegetable fibers or bamboo do not seem to have this same lead concern.
What to use?
Any fabric container that allows water, nutrients, and air to pass freely through the fabric, but restricts the passage of roots can be used, even the reusable Walmart bags.
Wicking + Air Pruning
The growth from using these two techniques are something you would expect to see from an expensive hydroponic system … but without the expense or work. There is no way I’d ever go back to dirt-gardening.
The amount of water a fabric bag needs will require it to be watered twice a day. So it needs a reservoir.
When you place a fabric bags in a shallow pan of water, the “capillary action” happens. The bottom of the growing media becomes the “wick.”
Setting It up
The setup is accomplished by putting the bags in a tray. Find a tray holds about 2 inches of water, which will last a day or three.
To water the plants just put the 1” of water into the reservoir. You can protect yourself by placing a hole about 1″ up, so the plant doesn’t drown.
This Veggie Sack way of Patio growing varies significantly from traditional in-ground or in containers in several areas. Unlike conventional soil where worms and other insects provide “channels” for natural aeration, the growing media in for this new way requires a loose, porous mix to replicate the aeration process with the right nutrients.
Good Media Mix are Sunshine #4 Mix, or Premier Pro-Mix BX for optimum wicking and plant vigor. If economy is of prime importance, Miracle-Gro Potting Mix (WITHOUT Moisture Control) can be substituted. Never use “Potting Soil” as this will compress too much, negatively affecting root aeration.