Living Soil Wicking Beds

JimmyJackCorn

Well-Known Member
well as far as it being outside, make sure it temperature of the bin doesn’t go over 85. Ants are also a problem. I recommend keeping it inside. My bin doesn’t smell and it shouldn’t. Everything stays in the bin, I have had pill bugs escape, but that’s about it. It’s easy to maintain and the benefits are better than anything you can buy on the shelf. Doesn’t require that much attention, hell you can forget about them for a few weeks and they’re fine.
Between the cat and the cannabis, I have plenty that needs daily attention to survive. It's good to hear a worm bin doesn't require that level of dedication! I think I will clean out that compost barrel so it's ready to be used. It's huge, though! If I can't find a spot in my shop, I'll have to wait until Spring to get it going. Either way, I'll get it clean and do some reading on worm bins!
 

JimmyJackCorn

Well-Known Member
Im along for the ride. I have some rain gutter. Havnt been able to find drain tile.
Anything that creates a bit more reservoir, but doesn't interfere with the wicking, would work great! I used downspout because it was available and free. I imagine there is all kinds of stuff that could work!
 

JimmyJackCorn

Well-Known Member
Coming along. Glad to see both germinate and grow the same.

Wicking beds are getting established. No pictures since it's boring, wet, cold dirt with bugs nosing around. I ordered some Red Clover which should show up next week!

I'll clear and clean the 4x4 this weekend in preparation for the beds and clover seeds. Hopefully the clover establishes quickly!
 

Attachments

m4s73r

Well-Known Member
Nice with the clover. Get yourself some nematodes and that will keep your gnats in check. Mulching was the missing key for me in organics. Once i got the living mulch down and saw how as the clover was getting mulched my plants grew like they were in supersoil.
To get a jump start on that, sow your clover heavy, then cover it with some composted mulch. I get some from my local nursery. 10 bucks for a 2cuft bag.
Once that clover is up and going and you've mowed it once keep it around 3 inches. Let it grow to around 6 then mow it back. When you mow you can add some Kashi Blend from Buildasoil.com. That will act like a compost starter. Jump starting the break down of the clover to usable nutrients. With it breaking down nematodes, bacteria and fungi will skyrocket. You dont have too.
As your plants grow, lightly defoliate to allow some light to get to your mulch. I mainly just trim the underside and prune out little sucker branches that wont make squat. In a tent the reflective light will keep your clover alive.
You will also find that this "green" living mulch makes a wonderful spongy top layer for your soil food web to grow in. I almost like growing the cover crop as much as the cannabis. lol.
 

JimmyJackCorn

Well-Known Member
Nice with the clover. Get yourself some nematodes and that will keep your gnats in check. Mulching was the missing key for me in organics. Once i got the living mulch down and saw how as the clover was getting mulched my plants grew like they were in supersoil.
To get a jump start on that, sow your clover heavy, then cover it with some composted mulch. I get some from my local nursery. 10 bucks for a 2cuft bag.
Once that clover is up and going and you've mowed it once keep it around 3 inches. Let it grow to around 6 then mow it back. When you mow you can add some Kashi Blend from Buildasoil.com. That will act like a compost starter. Jump starting the break down of the clover to usable nutrients. With it breaking down nematodes, bacteria and fungi will skyrocket. You dont have too.
As your plants grow, lightly defoliate to allow some light to get to your mulch. I mainly just trim the underside and prune out little sucker branches that wont make squat. In a tent the reflective light will keep your clover alive.
You will also find that this "green" living mulch makes a wonderful spongy top layer for your soil food web to grow in. I almost like growing the cover crop as much as the cannabis. lol.
I love all this! I am lazy and cheap, so I will see if I can get some spent barley from the brewery down the street. Maybe some fresh alfalfa from my neighbor could do double-duty. Not sure what else I might mulch with--likely trimmings, leaves, grass. I have piles of moldy leaves. Some mold is starting on the fresher green/brown inputs already!

Not sure if I have nematodes, but I have hypoapsis miles running around in my soil. They're keeping the gnats down in my current grow. I imagine they're already taking care of my wicking beds!

Your clover maintenance advice is well received. I hadn't thought that far ahead. You rock!
 

DankTankerous

Well-Known Member
I love all this! I am lazy and cheap, so I will see if I can get some spent barley from the brewery down the street. Maybe some fresh alfalfa from my neighbor could do double-duty. Not sure what else I might mulch with--likely trimmings, leaves, grass. I have piles of moldy leaves. Some mold is starting on the fresher green/brown inputs already!

Not sure if I have nematodes, but I have hypoapsis miles running around in my soil. They're keeping the gnats down in my current grow. I imagine they're already taking care of my wicking beds!

Your clover maintenance advice is well received. I hadn't thought that far ahead. You rock!
just remember it takes 60 days for clovers to start producing nodules of fixed nitrogen
 

JimmyJackCorn

Well-Known Member
just remember it takes 60 days for clovers to start producing nodules of fixed nitrogen
That's good to know. I amended the soil enough to last that long. Hell, I'll be watching the plants carefully, too! But that's good to know. Looks like I need to spend some time studying clover and nitrogen fixers!
 

m4s73r

Well-Known Member
just remember it takes 60 days for clovers to start producing nodules of fixed nitrogen
This for sure. Thats why i always preach starting your clover while your soil is cooking. Sow it and covering with composted mulch. Clover dont care if its a little warm.
That's good to know. I amended the soil enough to last that long. Hell, I'll be watching the plants carefully, too! But that's good to know. Looks like I need to spend some time studying clover and nitrogen fixers!
Dont look at it as nitrogen fixing. Clover is good for that if you have a soil with no nitrogen in it. See the clover will grow from the nitrogen in the air, Then once its big you till it in to the ground to then break down. In the Ag world you would do this rejuvenate depleted soil. Works amazing for that.

But these mixes we make have plenty of nitrogen in them. Clover is going to do a list of things for us in a no till garden.

1. Look at clover more as a food source for your soil. We use clover because it gets its own food source from the air rather then our soil.
2. has a shallow root system and makes a nice mat for soil biolife to proliferate.
3. allows us to have a steady steam of leaf litter from mowing/mulching the clover.
4. keeps the top layer of soil aerated
5. makes watering more even by breaking the water apart.
6. Reduces evaporation of water from the surface of the pot keeping your soil in that sweet moist area.
7. As clover drinks water they will wick water to the surface. Then your top soil doesn't dry, get crusty, hydrophobic and develop dry spots.
 

JimmyJackCorn

Well-Known Member
This for sure. Thats why i always preach starting your clover while your soil is cooking. Sow it and covering with composted mulch. Clover dont care if its a little warm.

Dont look at it as nitrogen fixing. Clover is good for that if you have a soil with no nitrogen in it. See the clover will grow from the nitrogen in the air, Then once its big you till it in to the ground to then break down. In the Ag world you would do this rejuvenate depleted soil. Works amazing for that.

But these mixes we make have plenty of nitrogen in them. Clover is going to do a list of things for us in a no till garden.

1. Look at clover more as a food source for your soil. We use clover because it gets its own food source from the air rather then our soil.
2. has a shallow root system and makes a nice mat for soil biolife to proliferate.
3. allows us to have a steady steam of leaf litter from mowing/mulching the clover.
4. keeps the top layer of soil aerated
5. makes watering more even by breaking the water apart.
6. Reduces evaporation of water from the surface of the pot keeping your soil in that sweet moist area.
7. As clover drinks water they will wick water to the surface. Then your top soil doesn't dry, get crusty, hydrophobic and develop dry spots.
Yes, I did some studying and understand clover better. Your distinction about "fixing" nitrogen jibes. It's the recycled/mulched clover tops/nodes that provide the soil with food!

I want to add #8 to your List of Why Clover's Good: it attracts and sustains nematodes! I don't have experience with this assertion, but read it in my studies on nematodes.

Also, turns out I won't know if I have nematodes in my soil until/unless I get myself a microscope. lol

This wicking bed project has become a pilot for my living soil bed. I want to be able to build the soil bed, let it cook, then maintain it as a no-till, water-only system. I would also like the watering automated, but I haven't decided on a system yet!
 

m4s73r

Well-Known Member
Yes, I did some studying and understand clover better. Your distinction about "fixing" nitrogen jibes. It's the recycled/mulched clover tops/nodes that provide the soil with food!

I want to add #8 to your List of Why Clover's Good: it attracts and sustains nematodes! I don't have experience with this assertion, but read it in my studies on nematodes.

Also, turns out I won't know if I have nematodes in my soil until/unless I get myself a microscope. lol

This wicking bed project has become a pilot for my living soil bed. I want to be able to build the soil bed, let it cook, then maintain it as a no-till, water-only system. I would also like the watering automated, but I haven't decided on a system yet!
LOL your 8 fits in number 2. But your spot on. That is also why when i build by beds i water in nematodes. then i know they are there and i dont have to get a microscope. (nematodes are cheap in comparison lol) throw in some European night-crawlers, and boom, biolife.
Well when your ready to do that bed check out my Hugel Kulture build. Finding some aged/decomposing wood can help reduce the cost of filling a bed. I mixed up my soil and threw it in there and was dropping clones in it a week later. Cost to fill bed was a couple hundred bucks. Pretty cheap. Most of the stuff was gotten from my local nursery.
 

JimmyJackCorn

Well-Known Member
LOL your 8 fits in number 2. But your spot on. That is also why when i build by beds i water in nematodes. then i know they are there and i dont have to get a microscope. (nematodes are cheap in comparison lol) throw in some European night-crawlers, and boom, biolife.
Well when your ready to do that bed check out my Hugel Kulture build. Finding some aged/decomposing wood can help reduce the cost of filling a bed. I mixed up my soil and threw it in there and was dropping clones in it a week later. Cost to fill bed was a couple hundred bucks. Pretty cheap. Most of the stuff was gotten from my local nursery.
I didn't remember it was you, but now that I look back, it was definitely your Hugel Kulture build that was like a landmark to me!

I will likely source everything I can from my yard or, in case of needing more wood, the river. I need to learn more before I do much anything, though. For now I am saving piles of biomass.

Crimson Clover seeds just showed up! They're inoculated and treated, so I put them right in the beds. Gave the top of the damp soil a light misting after the stir.

Still just over six months to go of not screwing anything up too badly!
 

Attachments

myke

Well-Known Member
Looking back. No mention of over flow hole? At what height is it? Also size of totes?
Thanks.
 

JimmyJackCorn

Well-Known Member
Looking back. No mention of over flow hole? At what height is it? Also size of totes?
Thanks.
Totes are 17gal.

I made a mark on the inside of the tote at 4" and filled 3/4" gravel close to the mark. Outside I measured from the ground up 3-1/2" and drilled a 3/16" hole. That should give me an air gap of no less than 1/2", but likely larger (I see only gravel through the holes).

I plan to fill the reservoirs a half-gallon at a time and measure with a float that I will mark. That way the holes won't get used often. I'm building out a drip spout with epoxy so it won't dribble.

What do you think?
 

myke

Well-Known Member
Totes are 17gal.

I made a mark on the inside of the tote at 4" and filled 3/4" gravel close to the mark. Outside I measured from the ground up 3-1/2" and drilled a 3/16" hole. That should give me an air gap of no less than 1/2", but likely larger (I see only gravel through the holes).

I plan to fill the reservoirs a half-gallon at a time and measure with a float that I will mark. That way the holes won't get used often. I'm building out a drip spout with epoxy so it won't dribble.

What do you think?
I use a grommet with a chunk of hose. I use tap water so I just count in seconds how much it needs. Usually I stop just before it over flows. 28 seconds fills mine. Just overflows into a small container. 31581B71-888A-4207-BB7C-94F1623E200E.jpeg31581B71-888A-4207-BB7C-94F1623E200E.jpeg
 

JimmyJackCorn

Well-Known Member
I use a grommet with a chunk of hose. I use tap water so I just count in seconds how much it needs. Usually I stop just before it over flows. 28 seconds fills mine. Just overflows into a small container. View attachment 5017335View attachment 5017335
Looks like it works great! I considered putting more effort into the overflow drain, but didn't. lol I will have a tray on hand in case I go over. Still, grommets are cheap, and I have some funny pipe on hand. Thanks for the pictures!

Also, I'm out in my shop and move water with buckets and watering cans. I usually fill a 5gal beverage cooler and dispense to jugs/bottles that way. Takes maybe 30 seconds to fill a gallon when the cooler is more full. I'd be surprised if my reservoirs are much more than 3gal, and I found a funnel. So no biggie, but plenty of time to consider and track quantity!
 

DankTankerous

Well-Known Member
I didn't remember it was you, but now that I look back, it was definitely your Hugel Kulture build that was like a landmark to me!

I will likely source everything I can from my yard or, in case of needing more wood, the river. I need to learn more before I do much anything, though. For now I am saving piles of biomass.

Crimson Clover seeds just showed up! They're inoculated and treated, so I put them right in the beds. Gave the top of the damp soil a light misting after the stir.

Still just over six months to go of not screwing anything up too badly!
i have access to wood chips that are in composting temps that insects cannot live in. Would that be good for a mulch layer? I’m afraid of bugs still being in there, but I don’t want to pasteurize it and kill the fungi
 

JimmyJackCorn

Well-Known Member
i have access to wood chips that are in composting temps that insects cannot live in. Would that be good for a mulch layer? I’m afraid of bugs still being in there, but I don’t want to pasteurize it and kill the fungi
I haven't used wood chips for mulch indoors. I suppose it would work to keep moisture levels consistent, but it would take a while to break down and add to the soil if you want to leave it in there.

I source a lot from outside and decided not to worry about bugs other than to effect Integrated Pest Management. If I was to worry about the presence of bugs, I doubt I would use anything from outside--just to be safe. In your case, you could pasteurize it and add fungi later (or let your soil/air provide it).

Ultimately, I really don't know about the nuances of using wood chips as mulch (effects of different species on nutrients, pests, pH, etc.). I have been blessed with an abundance of leaves and grass to use--and now clover! Seems I may have to learn if I want to do Hugel Kulture, though.
 

m4s73r

Well-Known Member
i have access to wood chips that are in composting temps that insects cannot live in. Would that be good for a mulch layer? I’m afraid of bugs still being in there, but I don’t want to pasteurize it and kill the fungi
I would not do this until the wood is fully composted. Do you know the source of said wood and type? This will also decide on weather this is a good or bad idea. Mulching with wood is fine as long as its dried and dead. If the mulch is too green it will burn off the nitrogen in the soil. Other types of wood can greatly effect the ph balance of your soil if its not fully composted and stable.

Personally, as cheap as clover is and its myriad of uses to the top layer of living/organic soils, i'd still recommend that over composted wood chips.
 

DankTankerous

Well-Known Member
It’s definitely composted but yet, it just has a ton of fungi, but I have straw, so I’ll just use that. Cover crops are amazing even if you chop before the make nodules. I had a ton of roots at the top because of the broken down Clover
 

JimmyJackCorn

Well-Known Member
Seedlings are in the beds, mulched by trim from mothers, second set of leaves just starting. They're twisting a bit as the roots stretch from the nutrient-buffered peat (MG seed starter) into the hot vermicompost.

Clover is sprouting!

I filled the reservoirs for the first time. They each hold a little over three gallons. Each reservoir lost about a half-gallon in the first hour. Hoping for some explosive growth after the cannabis adjusts to the hot soil.

I am a little surprised bt the quantity of pill bugs in this soil! I think they're going to town on all the leaves. As long as I feed them mulch, they should leave the plants alone--but it's something to watch for. Hell, there was a little nest of about a dozen in one of the tiny pots I transplanted from! Just eating away at all the biomass in the soil, I guess.

I included a picture of one of my soil bins. It's covered with slightly fermented alfalfa that is now beginning to mold. I'm not sure if it's growing cattis flies or the biggest fungus gnats I've ever seen, but these little flies are 1/4" long!
 

Attachments

>
Top