WATER PROCEDURE IN EARTHSHIPS
When growing food in an Earthship, besides using the best soil you can get, in your planters and growing buckets, and besides having adequate light, watering correctly is just as important to successful yields.
Watering will vary according to what it is you are growing, but growing food requires more water than just growing ornamental plants in the interior grey water planters. When growing food it is better to top water with fresh cistern water as opposed to grey water. You can top water with grey water, but it does leave a residue on the leaves that is more difficult to wash o and can be unsightly. Top watering with the hose nozzle on SHOWER, is done to simulate rain, to wash and sooth the plants as rain would, and to wash o pest bugs.
Top watering is also done to supply the smaller plants in the grey water planters, whose roots have not yet reached the grey water, with moisture.
The growing capacity of an Earthship can be increased by growing food in buckets suspended in the greenhouse front face, receiving the maximum amount of light that most vegetables need to grow. These contained buckets operate similarly to a very basic hydroponic system of the ebb and ow of water with nutrients, then oxygen over the plants roots. Hence the buckets do not have drain- age holes, as when the buckets are watered, the water with nutrients collect in the bottom of the bucket which the plant will up-take, which then allows oxygen to filter in over the plants roots, and is then watered again before the roots dry up.
WATERING PLANTS GROWING IN SUSPENDED GROWING BUCKETS
– Rule of thumb, is that if the soil surface is dry to the touch (scratch into the soil surface about an inch, and if still dry) then water. This may mean watering twice or three times a week, depending on the SEASON, the WEATHER and the SIZE of the PLANTS and of course the SIZE of the POT/BUCKET too.
– If the plants look wilted and the soil is dry, then they are not being watered enough. Normally the plant will recover when watered.
– If the plant is wilted and the soils is very moist, then the plant has been over watered and has developed root rot, and will very seldom recover, unlike when it is wilted from drying out too much.
– Over watering causes water to collect at the bottom of the bucket, become stagnant and stinky. This results in roots getting cold, causing root rot, which causes plants to wilt and die.
– Rather under water than over water. It is easier to add more water than to remove too much water from the buckets
WATERING BUCKETS WITH SMALL (YOUNG) PLANTS
– Using the hose nozzle on SHOWER, top water with a quick spray in a circular motion over the top soil surface of each bucket, if the soil surface has dried out.
– Never water so much that the water collects in the bot- tom and stands stagnant, for the buckets with the small plants
– Rather water a little each day than too much in one day then not for a while
– Be in tune with the weather and each plant, and its needs.
WATERING BUCKETS WITH LARGE PLANTS
– IF THERE IS NO OR VERY LITTLE WATER WHEN YOU LOOK DOWN THE WHITE PIPE, using the hose nozzle on CENTER, squirt water down the white pipe until you can see the water level rising on the side of the bucket, until it reaches the potting soil level (a dark ring will form around the bucket at this point, just above the half way mark up the side of the bucket.)
– IF THERE IS STILL A FAIR AMOUNT OF WATER WHEN LOOKING DOWN THE PIPE, there is no need to add water. this would be the case when the weather has been cloudy and cool for a few days and the plant has not yet absorbed all the water.
– Allow the large plants to absorb ALL the water in the bucket before adding more, so that the roots can get oxygen too. When adding water to +- 2/3 up the side of the bucket, then over the next day or two or three, allow the water to be absorbed by the plant and evaporated by the heat of the day, allowing oxygen to filter into the spaces in the soil and between the grow medium, that was occupied by water a day or two before. This will mimic the up and down SURGE of water with nutrients and oxygen in a hydroponic system. – If we do not mimic this up and down surge of water and oxygen, the plants will get root rot and die. Plants need oxygen on their roots to be healthy.
– In Hydroponics, this up and down surge happens every few hours, on a timer, but in our suspended growing buckets, it depends on the SEASON, the WEATHER and the SIZE of the plant in each bucket. This is why it is so important not to over water, as one can always add water, but it is difficult to remove water from the hanging buckets.
– Be aware of the weather, as this will affect how often and how much water is applied.
WATERING THE PLANTERS IN EARTHSHIPS
– The larger established plants have longer roots that go down into the grey water.
– Smaller less established plants still need to be top watered, especially food plants. Top watering simulates rain and helps with bug pest control. – When the surface of the planter soil is dry when you scratch in a little, +- 1”, then it is time to water
– Remember to water a little extra over the new seedlings coming up in the patches of soil. They are the only ones that really need to be moist all the time until they get a little bigger. – The inside planters (inside the interior greenhouse), also need to be watered almost every day, depending on the weather. They dry out more quickly in Winter as this is the only time that the sun reaches into the inside planters. Always do the soil test if you are unsure. Test at least 3 different parts of the planter, as it dries out at a different rate, and water accordingly (more in the drier part of the planter.)
– In Winter, if you live in a cold climate, do not water in the coldest part of the day, in the early morning or in the evening. Only water at mid-day in Winter. It is the opposite in the Summer, watering only in the early morn- ing or in the evening, not during the warmest part of the day. Using the SHOWER setting on the hose nozzle, gently spray the ground evenly covering all its surface evenly, but not excessively.