Fertilizer

I have a batch of urine and ash fertilizer. I posted about it here.

I am using a 5 gallon bucket and almost 1/2 gallon of urine which dilutes it to a recommended 10%, To this I added about 1 measuring cup of ash from the BBQ pit. Ash is good but more is not necessarily better.

I also added about 1 cup of liquid calcium solution I made from eggshells and white vinegar. This is to prevent “blossom end rot”.

When I notice results, I will post pics.

Update with a few pics. Things are going well

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That is my garlic. Planted from store bought cloves. It’s an experiment.

Behind the tubs is the compost pile made mostly from last years leaves. I shredded them before adding them to the pile. And behind that is a small raised bed that I’ll probably plant cucumbers.

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Those are some of my tomatoes. Already starting to set buds. They are indeterminate varieties which means I’ll have tomatoes until disease or frost kills them.

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2 zucchini and a pepper plant. The peppers have fully recovered from earlier problems. In fact, there are so many buds starting that I might have to remove most of them. I want the plants to grow before setting any peppers.

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Another pepper. I set 2 plants per gal bucket.

I don’t have the self-watering gear set up yet. I might get it built today, or maybe not. It’s not really needed until the weather starts getting hot.

Problems

I have the peppers and tomatoes planted in buckets, but they aren’t doing well, especially the peppers.

The tomatoes have improved but the peppers have many leaves that are bleached out on the top side. The bottom side looks normal. I’m thinking I didn’t harden them enough and the UV rays have affected the leaves. There are no pests on them, and I didn’t expect any this early in the year.

They’re not dead, but they’re sick. I’m hopeful since the newer growth coming in is a normal shade of green. And if they don’t recover, I’ll plant something else in those buckets.

Bucket cleaning

I noticed that the donut icing was starting to attract ants, even though the lids were still on. I decided to act decisively in a decisive manner.

I was worried about how difficult it might be to get all that icing out of the buckets, but I found a way that worked.

I used a power washer nozzle attachment to a garden hose. It’s not one of those cheap plastic things that has the rotary dial you can to select what kind of spray you want. This is a small brass fitting that has about a 1/4″ nozzle. It works so well I got a little wet myself from the back splash.

There is still a thin coating of grease on the inside of the buckets and I have some old dishwashing liquid that will take care of that. Later. When the mood hits.

Last frost in my area is 4/15 and I can’t wait to set this up. My tomatoes are getting almost too tall for the containers I’m using.

I have almost everything now

I just picked up another 7 free 5 gallon buckets and 5 free 3 gallon buckets, all food grade. I’ll use the 3 gallon for peppers.

If you need buckets. go to the delis, bakeries both stand alone like Dunkin Donuts and inside supermarkets. They’re happy to get rid of them and I’m happy to take them,

Now I have to figure out how to remove all that donut frosting. I hear it’s hard to clean but I have a few ideas.

I like the idea of recycling as much as possible. It helps me by lowering expenses and it also helps keep it out of landfills, at least temporarily. Having a bunch of buckets in the side of the house might not look that nice, but maybe I’ll dress it up with some fencing. What I’m looking for is results, not a pretty garden.

Hardening my plants

I’m starting the hardening process, I’m not putting them in direct sunlight yet, but they are sitting outside for about 6 hours a day now. I think by this weekend I’ll expose them to direct sunlight, starting for about 2 hours a day and working up from there. I have time, since the last frost date for my area is April 15th. By then, I hope to have my self-watering containers all set up and ready to go.

I figure on using 10 5 gallon buckets for plants and one bucket to set the water level. I’ll use a large trash can for a water reservoir.

I’ve already got some food grade buckets for free from a deli and a restaurant. Food grade buckets aren’t what I’d call cheap. Lowes has them for $4.50, so I saved about $45 if I can get a few more freebies. So what if they smell like pickles.

Pruning the peppers really made a difference. I pruned them on 3/7 and they have already come back with some very good and bushy growth. The stems look sturdier too. I have high hopes.

Pepper pruning

I pruned the peppers today. It was rather painful to cut off that nice green foliage, but it was time. I was starting to get tiny buds, and I don’t want buds, I want growth. There are plenty of youtube videos on the benefits of pruning pepper plants.

I took one good stem and I’m trying to root it. It’s an experiment. I cut the stem at the base at about a 30% angle with a sharp knife, and I also scraped the base of the stem to expose the inner part of the stem, that being where roots will form. Then I keep it well-watered in potting mix. That’s the theory anyway. I’ll see what happens.

If you transplant into large containers

Dont forget to label them.

Guess what I did?

Anyway, I cut up a set of broken vinyl blinds that I wasn’t using. I thought I might come up with a use for it eventually, and I did. I take the slats and cut them into about 4-5″ lengths and use an indelible marker to label them. I’ll use them next time, assuming I don’t forget.

I hope winter weather ends really soon

That’s because my plants are really growing quickly, especially the peppers. I wasn’t expecting that.

I didn’t conduct this as a scientific experiment with a control set of plants along with my experimental system. All I can say is that germinating them in damp paper towels until the tap root forms, and then planting them in small plastic cups that are lined inside with 1/2 of a sturdy paper towel and with openings cut into the cups to prevent them from becoming root bound, is paying off. I’m not sure the slits cut into the cups is necessary, since commercial grow bags (which prevents root binding)  don’t have this feature.

To feed them, in a 32 oz bottle I add a heaping 1/8 tsp miracle grow, about 1/16 tsp epsom salt, and about 5-10 drops of diluted 2:1 dissolved calcium from egg shells dissolved in plain vinegar. I use plain water one day, and the fertilized water the next.

These plants are at the point where I could put them outside into 5 gallon buckets right now. I suppose I could clone with cuttings if they get too tall.

So far, so good.

I’m rather pleased with these improvised grow boxes.

My intention was to go the cheap route, and it’s paying off with some good growth.

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Those are my tomatoes. They are nice and green with healthy and sturdy stems.

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And those are my peppers. I have Bell, Jalapeno, and some Habenero that are taking their own sweet time in germinating. I started all peppers at the same time, but Habs are on their own schedule.

I had to remove one bulb, and raise the box a few inches because it seemed there was some wilting from the heat on the tallest pepper. They perk up by morning, but they are getting tall.

It will be interesting to get a look at the roots. I lined the containers with half sheets of sturdy paper towels in order to prevent the plants from becoming root bound.