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Monday, Dec. 22, 2014

Garden Gleanings - Some thoughts

Posted Tuesday, January 29, 2008, at 5:06 PM

The first package of seeds have come in and IT IS RAINING! Great sign, and optimism.

As I was searching for a better way to conserve water I ran across the Ooze Tube. Actually there are a few things out there called the ooze tube but this one was for trees and adapted later for tomato plants. Neat idea but soooo expensive to use. For one short section they want $29.99.

That started my mind running on ways to use everyday items or recycled items to do the same thing. Basically the ooze tube is a rubber or plastic tube that can be filled up with water, then slowly releases it through emitters or tiny holes. As the water releases it slows down even more and trains the new plant to search deeper for water.

Depending on size and how fast the water 'oozes' out you could water once every few weeks and still supply your plants with the necessary moisture it needs.

What could be used that we could get locally at a reasonable price or what could we recycle? I thought of getting non-perforated, corrugated black pipe that is used for drains and close off both ends and add a filling hole on top. I have not calculated how much water could be held in a 4" diameter pipe, but the basic concept seems to work. Maybe we would need something larger, but black would hold heat for early season plantings.

Large inner tubes could be recycled to fit around tomatoes giving them water and warmth. Later in the year they could be covered with white plastic to provide some cooling during night temps over 80 when fruit set is hampered by the heat, or more light reflection when leaves start to reduce your growing hours.

Rigid plastic pipe could be sealed then stood on end and buried in a section of garden a few inches down. The pipe could be filled with water and feed several plants as well as be used to support them. Maybe tomatoes or cukes? If looks are not too important, you could fill old garbage cans and let the water slowly leak from them.

Of course all these systems could also be used to deliver fertilizer like fish emulsion, seaweed, compost tea.........

Any ideas?


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hey Steve

I know planting your own veggies is a great hobby for people who like to know exactly what is in their food.

But really in the long run is it actually cheaper to plant your veggies or just buy them from the supermarket like we do most other things.

I am not putting you down at all for gardening, it just seems to me like it is an awfully lot of expensive to grow your own veggies plus you have to depend on Mother Nature to help you out too, which I am sure last year nobody's garden did well because of the dry weather. Not to mention all the hard work you put into it..seems your time has to be worth something.

Maybe it's just me but I just don't see it as being any cheaper. But then again what do I know, I can't even make flowers live every long :>(

-- Posted by Dianatn on Tue, Jan 29, 2008, at 6:35 PM

There are a lot of ways to look at this Dianatn. Years ago, it was a necessity for my parents to stretch the family food budget. Now it is not as much a family budget issue as much as that I just like gardening. However, if the economy should ever take a turn like it did in the Great Depression, home gardens could become very important.

Growing veggies is my preference. We usually give away most of the produce but this year I am trying to do more with it at home.

As far as saving money, yes we would save if we eat what we have. How much would we save? Probably not enough to warrant the time except that it is enjoyable and good exercise. Saves on a gym bill.

Could it cost us more, sure, but I do not get carried away with the faddish tools or accessories. I stick with basics.

I also spend very little for fertilizer or supplies to fight bugs. I either do it naturally or the bugs win. It is an interesting tug of war for me, so I always enjoy the challenge.

The jury is still out on how much it might also save from a health standpoint and as long as there is big money in fertilizers, insecticides and 'silver bullets', I expect that jury will be constantly hung.

Then there is the taste aspect. My wife used to enjoy corn on the cob, but when she ate it fresh from the garden she became fanatical. When our daughter was three years old, she could tell the difference between a freshly pick, vine ripened tomato and the ones from the store that are grown for shipping and storage, but not taste.

-- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Jan 29, 2008, at 7:50 PM

Steve, if you are looking for ways to water your garden directly to each plant without wasting water by "showering" the entire field, would you consider re-using old soda bottles? Here's what I did a couple years ago. You will need some paper based diapers and some 2 or 3 liter soda bottles. Cut the bottoms off of the bottles. Make a bigger hole for the plant than you normally would for seed. Place a small paper-based diaper (I think Huggies is the brand I used) in the hole. The diaper is to help retain water at the roots. You can cut off the plastic tapes. The paper-like ones will degrade more than the plastic ones. Ok, with diaper in place, put seed(s) in the middle of the diaper, but don't close it up. Start to fill in with a little dirt. Now, put the bottles upside down in there, positioned just so it pours into the diaper. Continue to cover so that the dirt will hold the bottle up. Now you have a nice water system. Just fill each bottle when it's empty.

I swear by this method for tomatoes. Last time I did this, they were as big as softballs, and dripping with juicy, sweet, goodness. And when we tilled the garden up for fall, there was no diaper left.

Also, there are these watering spikes you can put on soda bottles. I got a set of 12 on Ebay for less than $10.

-- Posted by craftin_mom on Wed, Jan 30, 2008, at 7:11 AM

I LIKE IT! The paper diaper should be a lot less than buying these specialty water grabbers out on the market, easier to get and biodegradable. SUPER!

The bottle re-filler is another great touch. Does a one liter fill the diaper material?

How often do you reload?

This would also be a great way for those of us going to try a hanging garden. In fact, I think I might add them to our flower pots as well. During the summer, the heat evaporates faster than we can water.

-- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Jan 30, 2008, at 8:14 AM

It was a couple of years ago when I did the diaper trick, and I think I only had to refill the bottles every other day. But, on really hot summer days they required more fillings. Of course, we didn't have the severe drought like last year. I was using mostly 3 Liter bottles.

For smaller containers and pots, I think a 20 oz. bottle may suffice. And think about it like this... the bottles aren't going to the landfills if they're being used again.

-- Posted by craftin_mom on Wed, Jan 30, 2008, at 9:56 AM

The only thing I want to check on is the composition of the material the plant will be feeding from. Chemicals basically.

It won't matter for ornamentals. Sorry, it is my organic side talking.

-- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Jan 30, 2008, at 10:16 AM

Not sure if this will help anyone but we used "tin" cans in the 70's. Punch holes in the lower sides and bottom of old juice or any other smaller cans, fill with gravel and bury up nearly to the rim beside the plants. Pour water into the can and it seaps out right at the root level with out the usual runoff.

We did this for our tomatoes for several years and always got a good yeild.

-- Posted by EastSideMom on Thu, Jan 31, 2008, at 5:23 PM

Every idea helps ESM. After last year....... Extra happy to see the rain tonight. Hopefully I will sleep better listening to it.

Got my second and my last pack of seeds today. Planting time starts in two weeks, if not sooner. I already feel like I am falling behind.

-- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Jan 31, 2008, at 9:39 PM

Will you be soeing your seeds inside in two weeks?

Just trying to make sure I stay on top of things! LoL

I really like the idea of conserving water for my garden, too. I have already concluded that I will be going to Wal-Mart (tonight)to rack up on those $.97 three gallon buckets. I will be displaying them throught my back yard to catch falling rain so I can use unclorinated water on my garden when possible. I will be using the coke bottle or tin can method for my tomatoes.

I love the idea of the diaper trick, but since I am going as organic as possible, I don't think I'll be using it. My son's diapers hold water by gel-like material and contain vasaline for skin protection. Then, there are also dyes in the material. It is a really good idea though, and the tomatoes sound so juicy!

It is neat also that the diaper was completely decomposed by the end of the season! It takes hundreds of years for those to decompose in the landfills!

Our next baby will sport cloth diapers for that reason!

As far as buying produce from the store, I will until I get crop, and I will after it is gone. I want a garden so I can provide great produce for my family. I think I will have a sence of pride knowing that if anything should happen finacially, that we will be able to provide food for us.

I wish that I could grow bananas! We go through a bundle of those every week. When my husband worked at Wal-Mart Dist. Center, the bananas came in green, and they would pour this chemical over them to ripen them. That crosses my mind everytime I go to buy them!

-- Posted by Mary on Fri, Feb 1, 2008, at 8:04 AM

Yes, the seeds will be inside at the moment, but if I get my B in gear I will complete a small hoop structure in my revamped garden and after the soil warms a few days, plant some bok choy, radishes, carrots Swiss chard, spinach, beets and snow peas. I know is is pushing it, but I don't know what the summer will bring, so I want to give some of these a shot while there is rain.

I have not found out about the organic acceptability of the diaper idea yet. Anyone know? I put in some questions with some of the organizations I know, but no response yet.

Until then I may use paper dust. I have some available to me and I know where it cane from and how it was made. Even though it does not absorb as much as the water crystal, it will be better than nothing.

I still like the idea of creating a way for the water to get directly to the absorbent material.

-- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Feb 1, 2008, at 2:26 PM


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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter and live on a farm outside of Bell Buckle. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.