That makes sense. I confess that at this point my practical gardening experience is virtually non-existent, so I don't have a wealth of knowledge to fall back on. I'm trying to remedy that this spring. Good point about looking at the distribution of rainfall across the months in you region. I've heard of the mulch trick to retain moisture as well so that's definitely something I'll be doing.
Right now, I think one key for any shot at self-sufficiency on a micro urban homestead scale is figuring out how to maximize potato production in a very small space. At least I suspect that's the case with most regions of the USA east of the Mississippi, with the exception of tropical parts of Florida where other staple crops can be grown. I've talked about this before here: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=11308&p=230030&hilit=potato#p230030
Let's assume the estimate that 2 lbs of potatoes can be grown per sqft in soil is accurate. I've done a bit of research on growing potatoes in 5 gallon buckets, and one reputable Youtube source says to expect anywhere from a 4-6 lb yield (I know there are lots of variables involved, but I'm just keeping it simple for now). A 5 gallon bucket has a diameter at the top of approximately 12 inches, which means the bucket provides ~5 lbs of yield per sqft, more than double Jeavons' moderate output. Of course there might be more challenges associated with keeping the buckets watered compared to a crop in the ground, but that's where things like self-watering/wicking buckets and mulching the top of the bucket come in.
However, the bucket is only 15 inches tall, so we're still not really taking full advantage of vertical space. The "traditional" potato tower I've seen that is made by filling a wire mesh cylinder with hay, soil, and potatoes seems to fail pretty much every time. But if we know that a 5 gallon bucket works pretty consistently, perhaps there is a way to set up a series of suspended 5 gallon buckets, one on top of the other? I'm envisioning one bucket placed on the ground and another hanging from a post, with a few inches between the top of the first bucket and the bottom of the second bucket. Basically, the potato plant in the bottom bucket would still grow up, but it would be along the sides of the bucket above it, providing shade and cooling for that bucket. I might wrap the buckets in some kind of trellis system to give the potato plants support as they grow up. I'd use the simple self-watering system with a container at the bottom and PVC pipe that you see all over the place, which should minimize the need for daily watering. The white buckets should be less prone to overheating, and I can even bury the bottom bucket slightly with some ground cover around it to provide shading. As I mentioned, the other buckets would get shaded by the potato plant growing out of the bucket below them as the season goes on.
In theory, you could expand the system to 3 or more buckets. If we assume each bucket is 15 inches tall and a 3 inch gap between buckets, then a 3 bucket system (~15 lbs of yield) would be 51 inches tall and a 4 bucket system (~20 lbs of yield) would be 69 inches tall. One thing I'd have to figure out with anything larger than 2 tiers is how to suspend the buckets, since hanging from the handles will probably take up too much space.
I haven't seen anyone try this based on my research, which tells me that it might not be feasible. But then again, this shouldn't be much different then growing in individual 5 gallon buckets on the ground, which we know is a proven strategy. There are also not a lot of people working in this solution space, as we've mentioned before.
Edit: Maybe a more realistic estimate on potato yield per 5 gallon bucket is 2-3 lbs. I'm unsure but I'll definitely be running my own experiments this summer and reporting my yields.
Alphaville wrote: ↑
Thu Jan 21, 2021 1:40 pm
treatment ive seen is light hydrogen peroxide dilution in watering spray. it's just the "one small detail after another" factor that tends to overwhelm.
I really don't think treatment will be necessary in your environment. Also, supposedly worm castings have antifungal properties if that become a big concern.
You can watch a thousand videos on microgreens and each will have a slightly different take on things. I just stuck with following Corey's Cave beginner course because he keeps things very simple and he is quite honest about what steps might be necessary for commercial growers vs. what's necessary for individual growers. The plants are only growing for 2 weeks indoors, so in my opinion there are just much fewer things to go wrong compared to growing a traditional vegetable outdoors.