In my research I found some amazing resources and information from a host of sources, but those most positive and informative by a long shot was MHPGARDENER on Youtube. We may not see his level of success in gardening but just a little knowledge is all you need to get started in any type of Gardening, but his first attempts and discussion in Hydroponics is terrific!
I wanted to do a fair comparisong amongst a few samplings of methods and tried to stick with just a few basic vegetables that are easy to grow. Once I know what method is best I will hone my setup and branch out to much more variety of plants.
Method #1- Earth Box or I've also seen it called a Grow Box.
This is basically a container of soil with a water reservoir underneath the soil, roots are fed via a wicking method. Using scrap wood, irrigation pipe, and paint found in my garage I made an oversized container (not sure yet if that was a good idea.. we'll find out) about 4'L x 2'W x 2'H. It holds approximately 30 Gallons of water and has a planting depth of about 20", so in that respect I'm slightly limited to things which do not need a really deep root growth. In this I've planted two types of tomatoes, Strawberry, two types of bellpepper, sweet onion, beets, basil and cilantro.
I'd say this method is working for sure. It's pretty cool to not have to monitor anything. The water reservoir is large enough so I suppose I'll just add 3-5 gallons every few weeks or so. It's been just over a month with plants in here and in full sun. Everything but the herbs are growing ok but slow, I'm not adding any nutrients or fertilizer because I'm doing a direct comparison to the growth in my Hydroponic methods. The herbs completely wilted and died in about two weeks.
|Fill tube at top which has an elbow on inside and dumps water below soil level. Overflow elbow on bottom leaves about a 1" air gap between soil and water.|
|Mesh Screen to hold soil. Cute drain pipe in background will be supports and wicks to hold weight of screen with soil|
|Lined with 6Mil black plastic|
|Soil Wicks and support being prepped before dumping 5Cubic feet of planting soil. My little helper Riley in the background keeping close supervision|
|Finished and populated with some new seedlings I prepped|