Lasagna Gardening In A Bucket

Lasagna gardening seems very popular these days! Why not in a bucket then? That will indeed be this years experiment for me. Last year I put a tomato plant in a five gallon bucket. It done well at first producing nice fruits, but as the season progressed, the fruits got smaller and smaller. I came to the conclusion that all the nutrients were being washed from the soil because plants in buckets need much more frequent watering. This got me to thinking a bit. Why not try lasagna gardening in a bucket? What I plan on doing is this: drill drainage holes in the bottom of a five gallon pail. Then cut a ring of cardboard to fit inside the bottom of the pail. I will then put a thin layer of grass clippings followed by a layer of top soil, dehydrated cow manure, compost and then granular slow release fertilizer. I will repeat this until the pail is filled all in very thin layers. I will only water the tomato plant very sparingly in the morning only when it looks a bit wilted. Hey, if lasagna gardening works so well in a bed, why not in a bucket? It's just on a smaller scale. Your opinions please :)
Rich
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White_Noise snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (EVP MAN) wrote:

Lasagna gardening doesn't use chemferts, it counts on microbes feeding the plants roots. What is water soluble is chemferts, and that is what will be washed away. If you are going to do lasagna gardening in a bucket, use potting soil to which you have added about 10-20% clay soil by volume, cover with mulch, and plant. Fish emulsion every 2 weeks.
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- Billy
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I wasn't so much worried about this idea being organic but concentrating more on how to retain water and fertilizer when growing in a bucket. The more I had to water last year, the more fertilizer seemed to be washed away right out the drain holes in the bottom of the pail. I think this new concept would cut way down on watering thus more fertilizer remaining in the grow pail.
Rich
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On May 8, 9:18am, White snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (EVP MAN) wrote:

How about catching the water that drains and using it again??? Nan
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In article

Now thats a good idea !
Just would add that the larger the pot the minor the mistakes can become. 1-1-1 in a small pot or 10-10-10 in a large pot may prevent salts from becoming an issue. I use large pots inside just for starting caladiums. Lots of work but I like white in my shade hosta beds. I also just use my compost for everything. This year did not even harden off in a cold frame. Forecast is for 36 F Sunday night fingers crossed but we have 40+ winds today too.
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Bill S. Jersey USA zone 5 shade garden
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Catching and reusing the water does sound like a good idea indeed but I would like to find a way to prevent over watering in the first place. I will be using a five gallon bucket for a single plant. If I don't over water, there shouldn't be much to catch for re-use. Such a small amount may evaporate quickly in the summer heat. Perhaps I should consider getting a soil moisture tester? Can anyone recommend a decent tester for under $50 US???
Rich
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On 5/7/10 10:30 PM, EVP MAN wrote:

Unless you are growing cherry tomatoes, patio tomatoes, or other tomatoes with small fruit, a bucket is just not large enough. Tomato plants can send their roots 10 ft down into the soil. A 15 gal can (left over after planting a tree) might be sufficient.
If you are concerned about retaining moisture without drowning the plants, consider my do-it-yourself potting mix. See <http://www.rossde.com/garden/garden_potting_mix.html . However, evenif you only use organic fertilizers, the excellent drainage of this mix will generally mean you will lose nitrogen during the growing season.
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David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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Tomato plants with ten foot roots :) Why I'd have to hire a backhoe to dig them out in the fall. Then I'd have a big enough hole to put an inground swimming pool in the following spring........LOL Last year I did plant 14 Jet Star tomato plants in the ground and I must say that they produced a bumper crop for me to enjoy. When I pulled them up in the fall, the roots were much closer to ten inches rather than ten feet long :) It would be quite hard to double dig a garden with such a huge root system. I pruned each of my plants to a single stem and used stakes. Each plant averaged between 30-35 nice tomatoes.
Rich
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On 5/8/10 9:44 AM, EVP MAN wrote:

Because tomatoes are not woody plants, the roots are not woody. When you pulled out tomato plants and saw 10-inch roots, you left most of the roots in the ground. Once the plants are removed or die, the deep roots quickly rot away.
Nevertheless, tomatoes need a lot of space for their roots while growing.
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Climate: California Mediterranean
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The point in lasagna gardening, is to encourage soil organisms to nourish your plants. Besides breaking down organic matter, these microbes also build up soil structure. As they feed, certain soil bacteria secrete gums, waxes, and gels that hold tiny particles of earth together. Dividing fungal cells lengthen into long fingers of hyphae that surround crumbs of soil and bind them to each other. These miniclumps give microbially rich soil its good "tilth": the loose, crumbly structure that gardeners and farmers strive for. Also, these gooey microbial by-products protect soil from drying and allow it to hold huge volumes of water.
Soil bacteria and fungi are like small bags of fertilizer, retaining in their_ bodies nitrogen and other nutrients they gain from root exudates and other _organic matter (such as those sloughed-off root-tip cells). Carrying on the _analogy, soil protozoa and nematodes act as fertilizer spreaders" by releasing ,_the nutrients locked up in the bacteria and fungi fertilizer bags." The nematodes and protozoa in the soil come along and eat the bacteria and fungi in the,_ rhizosphere. They digest what they need to survive and excrete excess carbon_ and other nutrients as waste.
You can buy special soil fungi at nurseries, called mycorrhizal fungi, establish themselves in a symbiotic relationship with roots, providing them not only with-physical protection but with nutrient delivery as well. In return for exudates, these fungi provide water, phosphorus, and other necessary plant nutrients. These occur naturally in soil, but it is a good idea to inoculate pots with them.
Where humus really excels is in holding nutrients. The humus molecule illustrated below shows that, from an atom's-eye viewpoint, the face that humus presents to the world is a bristling array of oxygen atoms. Oxygen has a strong negative charge, and in chemistry, as in much of life, opposites attract. Thus, humus's many negative oxygen atoms serve as "bait" for luring lots of positively charged elements. These include some of the most important nutrients for both plants and soil animals: potassium, calcium, magnesium, ammonium (a nitrogen compound), copper, zinc, manganese, and many others. Under the right conditions (in soil with a pH near 7, that is, neither too acid nor too alkaline), humus can pick up and store enormous quantities of positively charged nutrients.
Yes, plants are quite capable of absorbing the water-soluble minerals in chemical fertilizer. But plants often use only 10 percent of the fertilizer that's applied and rarely more than 50 percent. The rest washes into the groundwater, which is why so many wells in our farmlands are polluted with toxic levels of nitrates.
In short, a properly tuned ecological garden rarely needs soluble fertilizers because plants and soil animals can knock nutrients loose from humus and organic debris (or clay, another nutrient storage source) using secretions of mild acid and enzymes. Most of the nutrients in healthy soil are "insoluble yet available," in the words of soil scientist William Albrecht. These nutrients, bound to organic matter or cycling among fast-living microbes, won't' wash out of the soil yet can be gently coaxed loose or traded for sugar secretions by roots. And the plants take up only what they need.
The ultimate extension of lasagna gardening (a.k.a. sheet mulching) would be to grow cover crops of "green manure" between plantings. This would add organic material and nitrogen to your soil without the need for amendment$.
Good Gardening ;O)
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