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Poor Wicking; Interesting Observation and Solution

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EarthBoxAdmin:
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, Psyche. This user is located in Zone 7a, Maryland. This was originally posted on May 27, 2013.

I just expanded my collection of EB (again), and on my last box, I ran out of soil.  I filled it up with what I had.  The soil was about 2-3 inches from the box rim.  I added the dolomite, topped off the water, put the cover on and left it for later.

I came back with a fresh bag the next day.  I added about a gallon of water to top off the box.  Lifting the cover, the surface was dry, but immediately underneath the soil was nice and moist.  I filled the box to the rim and added the fertilizer strip.  The soil comes in a compressed bale and is dry.  The day was very windy.  Instead of battling the elements and breathing in a lot of dirt, I just put the cover back on and would wait until the newly added soil got moist and the wind to die down.

Now, the story conflict...  The soil was not moist the next day.   Shocked  It was very dry for several inches down, past the point where it was moist the previous day.  I added another gallon of water to the box.  That water was going somewhere.  No leaks, no hot temperatures, humid.  I reached in the box to repack the corners, just in case.  Put the cover back on and checked the next day.  It was till dry and still drinking about a gallon of water a day.  I never had a wicking problem before.

My other boxes with plants are doing fine (well enough anyway).  None of my boxes are drinking a gallon of water a day, yet.  Peaking under the covers, the soil is dark and moist.  What is going on with my new box?

The answer is blowing in the wind.

The cover was loose on the new box without the "loaf" of soil.  I grabbed some egg sized stones and put them all over on top of the cover.  The next day, under each of the stones, the soil had become moist and the surrounding was still dry.  I built up my mound of soil, put on the cover and added the plants.  When I build my mounds, the cover is pretty tight.  The edge of the cap barely touches the rim.

The next day, the soil was dark and moist.  And the plants lived happily ever after.  Grin

(Or will they?  I'll find out later.  Roll Eyes )

FYI, Promix BX with Mycrorrhizae, Espoma Garden Lime and Espoma Garden Food 10-10-10 in burlap

EarthBoxAdmin:
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, Sun City Linda. This user is located in SoCal Inland 9A. This was originally posted on May 28, 2013.

Interesting. And the moral of the story is......We should follow directions!  Grin  But, it does help to understand WHY!

EarthBoxAdmin:
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Newbie, newmexjags. This was originally posted on June 8, 2013.

We are new to Earth Boxes, got two and planted them 3 weeks ago. Followed the directions, then noticed the tomato plants in one of the boxes was turning yellow. Lots of water in the boxes, top is down tight. Soil was bone dry. The soil in the other box was barely damp. Pulled back the cover and put in about a gallon of water from the top. That was last week end. Now back to the same problem this week end. One box is bone dry, one is barely damp. Lots of water in the bottom. My husband pulled back the cover and put the sprinkler on top. Plants are not happy. It is very dry and very windy in NM so far this summer. Usually the winds are long gone by now. Is this contributing to the problem? Why isn't the water wicking up when there's plenty to wick?

EarthBoxAdmin:
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, movrshakr. This user is located in Zone 10a - near Cape Canaveral. This was originally posted on June 8, 2013.

Wicking depends on--

a. Must have a mix that will wick. 
You say you followed directions, so I assume you have a good mix, without soil, sand, compost, etc, and with a high percentage of peat moss--preferably one on the approved list, but there are many brands that will work.

b. Must have wicking towers properly 'built.'
That means packed down during fill.  I pack mine down all the way to the top; some people don't.  But they have to be packed in the chamber AND high enough into the box to bring the water up.  I see no disadvantage to packing them all the way to the top, and I see an advantage to doing so, so I do it.

Wicking will 'start' better = quicker if the mix is quite moist at plant time.

Now your action should be to get the mix VERY wet from the top WITHOUT WETTING THE FERTILIZER STRIP!

EarthBoxAdmin:
Disclaimer: This post was originally posted by Hero Member, Psyche. This user is located in Zone 7a, Maryland. This was originally posted on June 8, 2013.

Newmexjags,

The story I wrote more illustrated that building the soil above the rim of the box was important for the wicking process.  The built up soil tightens the mulch cover so that it doesn't dry out easily from wind.  I was surprised even with doing everything else correctly, this one step threw off the wicking.  Did you build up the mix above the rim?

I agree with movrshakr, and want to emphasize again to not pour water on the fertilizer strip.

At the end of the story, I put that I was using Promix BX.  What mix are you using?

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