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Garden Update #3: Bucket Brigade

Posted by kevinwolz on June 8, 2010

The last few weeks have been really productive, with a lot of rain and warm weather. All transplants are in the ground, and just about every seed as well. I’ve gone through the entire garden for an initial weeding (I let it get a bit too far). Hopefully, the upper seed bank is now depleted and the worst of the weeds is over. Here’s what happened since the last update:

  • The first broccoli floret appeared! Clearly the biggest news of the week.

Mmmmmmm....tastes good already!

  • The Brassicas have also begun to differentiate! Remember: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kohlrabi are all the species Brassica oleracea. Every plant was identical upon transplanting. Now, the kohlrabi “balls” are clearly visible, and the cabbage, well, looks like cabbage!
  • On a more somber note, many of the Brassica transplants that I started in my dorm room totally failed.  They were just too weak from the heavy soil I used and the lack of sunlight. Lesson learned. Garlic was planted in the random holes left by the failed transplants.
  • Some of the tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers have buds.
  • The pole beans around the tree house have true leaves and will soon begin to climb up the nails placed every six inches or so on all sides of the posts (thanks to my friends for helping me with this!).
  • The transplanted pumpkins have male flowers open. (These are the plants that I started way too early in my dorm room just because I wanted to see pumpkins growing. I think the weird timing has messed up their internal clocks and caused them to flower way too early.)
  • I transplanted about five super-small sunberries that didn’t start very well inside, although only one is looking pretty good at this point. I just want one berry!
  • I found the carrots! Lack of initial weeding in the carrot bed caused the tiny seedlings to get lost in a forest of weeds. Rather than just hoeing it all to the ground and starting over, I went through the entire bed (~30 sq ft) and hand weeded around any seedling I found. I found about 20 total, but will reseed the bed now that it is weed-free.
  • The onion sets have popped through and are clearly visible
  • I seeded some more Swiss chard, dill, beets, and radishes to fill in any holes around the garden.
  • My sunflower windbreak has germinated and now has seedlings a few inches tall.
  • The radishes are getting big (at least the leaves are) and should be ready soon.

The Bucket Brigade:

  • Global Bucket – The Global Bucket is a self-watering container modeled after the commercial EarthBoxes and created by two innovative, teenage brothers. I learned of the design while on an abandoned factory rooftop in Milwaukee, where hundreds of these buckets will be used to grow vegetables in an epic example of urban agriculture. Wanting to try out the design for myself, I decided to build a single (slightly modified) bucket for myself and grow some extra tomatoes. So far, the results seem really promising.

Filled it up once, and haven't watered it in weeks!

  • Potato Buckets ­– I want to grow potatoes, but unfortunately, potatoes require fairly deep soil…which I don’t have. Luckily I came across this innovative bucket method online, which uses 5-gallon buckets to simulate deep soil. With the help of my friends, I first drilled a bunch of ¼ inch holes in the bottom of each bucket and placed an inch or so of soil/compost mix inside. Then, after weighing each seed potato (thanks Rob!) individually and recording the weight on the respective bucket, they were placed inside and covered with more mix. As the plants grow, I will add more mix to the buckets to “mound” the potatoes until just below the top of the bucket. New potatoes will grow between the seed potato and the surface. My lofty goal is to get a 10-fold increase in harvest weight. This means the 46 g bucket should yield 460 g. Commercial growers get between an 8x and 10x increase, but Rob typically gets quite a bit more than that. The bucket method isn’t the most natural method, so it probably won’t work as well as in the ground, but as long as I place the buckets in the garden where the roots can reach soil through the holes, it should at least do something. Plus, I had the help of several Irishmen on this project…that should make a world of difference.

    The Brigade at Attention


One Response to “Garden Update #3: Bucket Brigade”

  1. Aunt Cathy said

    I love the bucket brigade Kevin! Can’t wait to see how it works!

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