Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Growing with Your Planting Pyramid

In a previous post, we described how to build a Waterboxx Planting (half) Pyramid, a beautiful, terraced structure capable of holding between 9 and 27 plants, potentially without any watering after transplanting.
The Waterboxx Planting (Half) Pyramid - without soil or Waterboxxes, yet
Once we moved our Waterboxx Planting Pyramid into its final location and filled it with soil, we assembled 9 Waterboxxes and placed one on each level - before anything was planted, as seen below.  We then removed these before planting and replaced them after planting (a step you can skip).

We had several late hard frosts here in Indiana but then had an incredible hot streak with daytime temperatures near 85 degrees in mid April - not exactly a normal occurrence.  As the 10 day forecasts predicted night time lows well above freezing, we decided it was time to transplant our largest cucurbits outside to our Waterboxx Planting (half) Pyramid.  We moved spaghetti squash, Howden pumpkin, pie pumpkin, as well as green and yellow zucchini outdoors on Sunday, 4/17/16.

Although cucurbits (squash like plants) do best when direct seeded into the soil, we used peat pots to start most of the cucurbits indoors. Peat pots are ideal because they give sufficient room for the plant to start growing but also dissolve when placed in moist soil - allowing the roots to break free without being disturbed.  Note - if planting cucurbits that were started indoors we recommend that you simply make a hole for the peat pots and drop the peat pot right into the soil.  The moist soil enabled by the Waterboxx will ensure decomposition of the peat pot - if you remove the peat pot by hand you may damage the fragile roots of the cucurbit.

We had earlier planted either white icicle radishes, nasturtiums, or marigolds in the corners of each square (terrace) of the pyramid.  These were meant to either deter squash bugs and beetles (icicle radishes and nasturtiums) or encourage beneficial insects like ladybugs (marigolds).

The spring of 2016 was very cold and wet for us - and we had a very late and unexpected frost.  Fortunately, the damage to the plants in the Waterboxx Planting Pyramid was minimal - likely because the water in the Waterboxxes stayed warmer than the surrounding air and protected the plants in and around the Waterboxx.

Zucchini after our late frost only the smallest amount of damage on the bottom of the front leaf.  This zucchini would have been badly damaged or completely killed without the Waterboxx as it is 3 feet off the ground and very exposed.

Another 10 days passed since the unexpected frost - now with many 80+ degree days in a row.  This was also accompanied by a great deal of sunlight (although not much rain) and many of the Waterboxx Planting (half) Pyramid plants started growing rapidly, as seen below.  We of course have not watered anything growing in or on this pyramid since Waterboxxes were placed and filled with four gallons of water each.
Our Waterboxx Planting (half) Pyramid with zucchini, giant pumpkin, Howden pumpkin, pie pumpkin, and cucumbers all growing vigorously on 5/30/16

You can see the complete plans to build the Waterboxx Planting (half) Pyramid here and buy the Waterboxx here.

If you would like to learn how to grow plants without watering with the Waterboxx, the best resource is the book The Waterboxx Gardener: How to Mimic Nature, Stop Watering, and Start Enjoying Your Garden available here on Amazon.com. 

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