[Market-farming] Marking supplies

Pat Meadows pat at meadows.pair.com
Thu Feb 5 17:29:26 EST 2009

On Thu, 5 Feb 2009 14:34:44 -0500, you wrote:

>One thing I have never done and was wondering if 
>you have done is this.  The earthbox company says that the next year you 
>don't have to change out all of the old potting soil, but just the top 
>portion.  I have been too afraid to do this because of a fear of disease 
>etc:  What have you experienced with your SWC's?  We also have two unheated 
>high tunnels which we do grow directly in the soil, but the tomatoes in the 
>SWCs far exceed in harvest each year!  Thanks for the info.  Perhaps we will 
>try to make some of our own if and when we need more.

I haven't been using them as long as you have - I've just used them for two
years, but this is what we did, and it worked very well last year.  

We did it this way partly for lack of space reasons, and partly because it
just seemed fairly sensible to us.  Ed Smith's book on growing in SWCs -
well worth reading, btw - listed this as one possible method.

BTW, I use a 50-50 mix of compost (mostly homemade and some mushroom
compost) with all-purpose soilless mix (such as Pro-Mix) in the SWCs.  

OK; in the fall ---

We emptied all the SWCs out into a large pile, with the sole exception of
those which had obviously diseased plants (which were only the ones that
contained tomatoes).  We disposed of the potting mix from the
diseased-tomato-SWCs.  The rest got dumped into a large pile, and mixed
about some with the shovel and with the long-handled claw tool (I don't
know its correct name).  Let's call this pile 'Old Stuff'.  

We threw a tarp over the pile of Old Stuff and it stayed there all winter. 
We stacked up the (now-empty) SWCs and put them in the hoophouse for winter
storage.  (The way the homemade ones are made, you can stack them when
they're empty.)

The next spring, we mixed up a pile of (new) compost plus (new) soilless
mix, again approximately 50-50 - just measured by the shovelful - one
shovelful of this, then one shovelful of that.  Let's call that pile 'New

We put the pile of New Stuff next to the pile of Old Stuff, but with a
little area separating them.

Then we filled each SWC with about 50% Old Stuff and 50% New Stuff, again
measured by the shovelful - one shovelful of Old Stuff, then one shovelful
of New Stuff.  Then we mixed it around in the SWC, using the long-handled
claw tool.

This seemed to us to be the most convenient way.  It worked very well last
year, and we'll probably continue to do it this way unless either (a) we
seem to have a problem or (b) we think another way would be more convenient
for us or would work better for some reason.

If anyone else is doing this differently, I'd be interested to hear how
you're doing it and what your results have been.

In Pennsylvania's Northern Tier, northeastern USA.
Website: www.meadows.pair.com/articleindex.html

What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide
what kind of difference you want to make. - Jane Goodall

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