Bokashi in the greenhouse.

Did a big clean out in the greenhouse in the weekend and cleared out everything. Felt so wonderful to get rid of all the bits and pieces and do a restart. I’ve been growing tomatoes and cucumbers in big black buckets for years (the greenhouse itself has no soil) and that’s always been ok but it felt like time for a new approach.

So. Now it’s like this. I brought home 10 big bricklayers tubs from the local hardware store and lined them up in the greenhouse. Four on one side, six on the other (side-by-side rather than end-to-end). Then the fun started…

The tubs are 90 liters each (there are small ones available here too, 65 liters). Cost was some 13 euro each for the big, 8-9 for the small. And they’re really sturdy and nice! 900 liters in total to fill…

First up I put in a layer of drainage, the small clay balls that are called lecakulor in Swedish. Some 5 to 10 cm worth. So far I haven’t drilled any drainage holes, I’m thinking of not having any and using the drainage layer as a water reservoir if I’m careful and don’t overwater. But if I do go for holes I’ll drill them on the sides, at the same height as the drainage material. In a perfect world that means none of the valuable nutrients would be lost.

Next step was a layer of soil, just the cheap potting mix you buy at the supermarket this time of year. I thought a bit about putting a felt layer between the drainage and the soil but decided not to, if the roots want to make their way down into the reservoir it’s all theirs!

Then came the Bokashi! Some 20-30 liters ready fermented food waste from the kitchen. I happened to have a lot of biobags on hand so I used those, but obviously you take whatever you’ve got. But I did hack them open and spread out the goo reasonably evenly.

Then I added a couple of buckets of “real soil” from my soil factory in the garden, normal topsoil drenched in nutrients from last summer’s Bokashi. And the most ridiculous amount of worms! If they like it in their new home it’ll be just great to have them in on the operation.

Then topped up the tubs with more “sack soil”, the cheapest of potting mixes. I cut up the bags and tucked one over each tub to prevent evaporation until it’s time to plant. But now I’m even thinking I might plant my tomatoes and cucumbers in a hole in the plastic to reduce watering. What do you think?

Needless to say I deserved a beer at the end of all this! Just now the whole project looks like a workplace but I’m really excited about it. In my mind it’s already green and luscious with endless perfect tomatoes and cucumbers, maybe even kiwifruit, passionfruit or even a whole vineyard… Anyhow, I think it will be great and I’m dead curious to see how it works out.

One of the big benefits (I think) will be that come autumn I can dig down a new batch of Bokashi in all the tubs and renovate the soil ready for the spring. Maybe replace some of it if needed. It would be such a luxury to come out to the greenhouse in the spring and just wash it down and plant — having let the microbes and worms do all the hard stuff in the meanwhile.

Dreams are free! But I’ll let you know how the tomatoes work out!

…and in the old tomato buckets I’ve planted potatoes, all going well we’ll get a nice early batch in time for midsummer (and anyone who’s been to Sweden will know how important that is!). Fingers crossed.

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2 responses to “Bokashi in the greenhouse.

  1. You always amaze me Jenny! What a wonderful project.

    There are a lot of ways you could develop watering systems for these bins so you have no watering to do and can just put your feet up and watch everything grow (as if you could sit still).

    If you want to make the bins wick water from a reservoir in the base, evaporation will be a good thing to help start the process of bringing the water up. If you water from above and allow some water to evaporate it will cause the water from below to be drawn to the surface.

    The plants will ‘learn’ to build strong roots and suck the water up, rather than keeping roots around the top waiting for you to pass with the daily watering can.

    You could link the water reservoirs so watering one would flow into the others (which would be an easily automated system), but you would need to be able to check and clean any joining pipe in case it gets blocked (eventually some dirt or debris, or even roots, may work down into the reservoir). Same goes for any drainage holes as if the holes block the pot will obviously flood. Guess you could always grow Water Chestnuts, but that probably wasn’t the plan. ;)

    A wicking garden would normally have a pipe from top to bottom in each pot to allow the reservoir to be filled, but you could set up a hose or drip feed system to run along the top of the pots.

    The link shows a system meant for grow bags with buried Olla (closed terracotta pots), but I think it might give you some ideas of how to water your greenhouse with minimum effort. I like the way he uses different taps to provide multiple functions from the same few bits and pieces.

    I have also already visualised the abundant harvest from your glorious greenhouse. Can’t wait to see if reality can keep up.

    Have fun in the garden
    Kerri

    PS, Just noticed you have had nearly 43,000 hits on your blog site (way to go, that’s a lot of people you have influenced, shared your experiences with and learned with). Proud to be one of them!

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