A Green Home Lesson for Growing Tomatoes in Drought

| 5/21/2014 12:07:00 PM

Hello MOTHER EARTH NEWS devotees. My name is Ron Ferrell and I have been a follower of MOTHER since, well, forever. I have copies of MOTHER I've saved since the early 80's and I'm so honored to be invited to blog for the magazine’s website. Alternative housing is my long-time focus, but of all things, alternative gardening brings me to write for MOTHER.   

I'm now conducting a garden experiment I call a “Drought Pod.” The Drought Pod idea comes after many years of garden experiments at my Ecohut farm, near Oklahoma City, Okla. The Drought Pod experiment is what prompted this blog for MOTHER EARTH NEWS!

A Brief History of the EcoHut

I bought 5 acres in 2006 and set out to build a recycled, sustainable house that friends named the “Ecohut.” I used about 40 percent recycled steel on this all steel structure, welded the entire structure, and with a helper, built the original structure in 2.5 months of a very hot Oklahoma summer. I started in mid June and moved in October of 2006. As the photograph shows, I designed the super roof for shade and water catchment, but more about that later. Gardening was not part of my thought process then, as I was totally focused on building my Ecohut.

The property was overrun with junk deposited by the owners. I had to clear away huge piles of junk to begin construction. When I was discussing the property with the owner, there was a barrel in the ground, in what was supposed to have been a garden. He said his Dad would put horse manure in the barrel, plant his tomatoes around the barrel and water through the barrel only (creating compost tea). Brilliant!

The summer of 2006, as I was building my Ecohut, I used the barrel to grow tomatoes. I added cardboard and heavy straw mulch and it was a huge success in terms of tomato production.  The heavy mulch kept the weeds down and most importantly, kept the root system cool. I watered very little and my tomato production was great.

5/23/2014 5:29:40 PM

This is great. Can't wait for the next installments.

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