The black pod was installed last year, and it is mostly food waste, the green pod is a mixture of composted wood chips with sheep manure. There was compost around the outside of these two barrels to the approximate depth of 8 inches into which I planted 10 tomato plants around the outside of the barrel. These plants received tap water when first planted, and then two other waterings. From then on, they were reliant on the wetness of the compost, both in and out of the barrel. They did receive a heavy dose of compost tea as well.
The tomatoes were planted on April 16, 2014 and I was enjoying tomatoes within about 45 days. From the time of the initial waterings, they were never watered from the tap for the rest of the summer, produced very well and the tomatoes were beautiful and flavorful.
The update thus far is the new white drought pod is filled with composted wood chips with sheep manure. Each of these pods are basically 40 gallon plastic compost tumblers that were discarded by friends. I drilled thumb size holes in the bottom of each of these barrels so that worms and moisture can migrate easily.
I have increased the depth of the wood chip/manure compost around the drought pods to a depth of approximately 12 inches, followed by a big dose of compost tea and then squares of wheat straw hay that were soaked in the rain last summer (and never dried out in 7 months). The squares are very thick and tightly packed around the pod. Again, the tomato plants will be placed directly beside the barrels with the heavy mulch left throughout the summer. I will plant about 20 tomato plants around these 3 drought pods.
The goal is to have as much organic mass inside and outside the barrels as possible. The mass holds the nutrients, moisture, worms and keep the temperature of the soil/roots cooler than the summer air. The contents of the barrel should be wetter than the compost around the barrel, and this is to encourage the root systems to seek the wetter nutrient based contents. After the initial planting, I only water through the barrel to pull nutrients down into the contents around the barrel.
These two reclaimed hydroponic trays were kept from the trash truck by a friend. They are fiberglass, 20-feet-by-3-feet, and I installed them for a raised bed, fall/winter garden for this upcoming season. In the corner of my yard you will notice hoops that will be used to make a low tunnel hoop house. They are filled with composted wood chips with sheep manure. I will use them to grow winter greens, beets, carrots, etc.
I hope this update continues to be interesting for you. My next experiment is learning how to make Biochar.
Read Ron's previous post about Drought-Pods, How to Construct a Drought-Pod.
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.
More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!LEARN MORE