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  • Wicking Sand Bucket Experiment

    This experiment began on 9/7/15. Have been wanting to try sand for awhile so here we go.

    The sand is coarse, filter grade I got from the local sand plant. It was rinsed prior to using but not sterilized.

    The buckets are probably 3 gallon. It doesn't say anywhere on them. I got them from a local baby food manufacturer.

    As the photo's show, the wicking bucket bottoms were modified to have a screen and four wick holes. I'm not certain the screen was even necessary but for some reason I thought it might be necessary to have a drain. Any case, no water drains from the screen hole.

    The wicks are a heavy yarn type of material. Honestly I don't even know what it is but it was in the garage. To test the wicking of it I simply filled a glass half full of water and stuck a 1 ft long piece of it in the water. Within a minute it was wicking out on the cabinet so I figured it would work. There are four wicks per bucket, 1 ft long.

    The reservoir buckets were linked together with standard irrigation hose that's the same size as aquarium air hose, just brown in color. I drilled the holes for the pieces of tubing small so the tubing fits tight. It's not under any pressure and there are no leaks.

    The cut bucket reservoir is a handy indicator of water consumption and shows the level in all the buckets. Records indicate that roughly 1/8 of an inch is evaporating from this system every 2-3 days, void of growth. Remains to be seen how much it uses once we have growing plants.

    After it was all put together, the sand went in each bucket equally. So there is enough in a 50 pound bag to fill my eight buckets to 2.5 inches depth. The cuttings were laid in each bucket horizontally and covered with sand and then they were watered with the kitchen sink sprayer head to level the sand and settle it around the cuttings. Each cutting is within the top inch of sand in each bucket.

    That light is the 2ft x 4ft eight bulb I just got recently and it's just sitting on the top of the buckets for now. I have been picking it up every morning and evening for the past few days to check for any activity. First sign of growth this evening from a Valley Black cutting I got from Brian. I hope the rest follow.

    This sand wicking has really surprised me. I had no idea sand would do this, especially coarse sand. As long as the surface isn't disturbed, the sand stays moist from the wicking action. All of the sand. If the surface is disturbed, that area will dry out. There is evidence of this in some of the buckets where I poked my finger in, trying to see if the sand was moist. It is, all the time. I was afraid it might be too moist and it still yet may prove to be. There is a bond between the granules of sand from the first watering/settling. If it is disturbed the bond is broken but may be re-bonded with using a spray bottle to soak the sand. I did this a couple of times being curious and digging some.

    The eight lucky varieties for this are from photo view, far back row left to right...

    Valle Negra - Valley Black - Longue d'Aout - Salem Dark

    Front row left to right...

    Vashon Violette - Gillette - 3 Lobe Unk - Abebereira

    The couple of times I sprayed the sand after disturbing it, all the buckets got sprayed with 10 squirts of the sprayer bottle. Inside the sprayer bottle is the fertigation recipe I borrowed from a thread by Pete on f4f http://figs4funforum.websitetoolbox....igate&trail=50 (Miracle Grow All purpose). Starting with 1/2 teaspoon / gallon of water for newly rooted cuttings.

    I figured it wouldn't hurt and if they did sprout they would need something by the way of fertilizer since sand has basically zero anything. So they have been sprayed equally with the diluted solution. I will continue with this weekly and observe.

    That's about all I can think of for now. Welcome to the experiment.
    You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 9 photos.
    Last edited by Charlie; 09-23-2015, 08:39 PM.

  • #2
    Sorry the photo's aren't in order. I don't know how to make it so.

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    • #3
      Thanks for sharing Charlie.
      Nothing in the world takes the place of growing citrus till figs come along. Ray City, Ga. Zone 8 b.

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      • #4
        That looks neat. I think it will work.
        Brian
        Augusta, GA

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        • #5
          Great work, Charlie!
          Frank ~ zone 7a VA

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          • #6
            Those look like 4g buckets, I have used some of those for SIPs. Interesting idea Charlie, good luck!
            Ed
            SW PA zone 6a

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            • #7
              Charlie,

              You are a prolific experimenter. Like it. Thought you deserved a new title.
              Cutting sales start Nov 1 at 9PM eastern time as always at willsfigs.com

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              • Charlie
                Charlie commented
                Editing a comment
                Thanks for the title Wills

            • #8
              Charlie,
              Thanks for sharing your experiment...
              What temperature are you maintaining at the containers? Thanks.
              Good Luck.
              Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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              • Charlie
                Charlie commented
                Editing a comment
                I replied to someone on facebook yesterday it was 76 F at the bottom of outside the buckets. I just got home from work and it's now 80 F but the room door has been closed all day. The temperature at top sand level inside the buckets with light on is staying around 92 F while the sand temperature at 1 inch depth where the cuttings are is 80 F.

            • #9
              Thanks for the comments all. Yes I love experimenting as you all know and hope they all sprout. Amazing they push up through the sand. Last year burying cuttings and seeing them push up gave me quite a bit of confidence to try this but still wasn't sure.

              It's fairly easy to lift a bucket up and out of its water bucket. I tried to see if there were any roots against the side or bottom but can't tell. There seems to be sand cracking action in some of the other buckets so maybe in a few days there will be more green. We all know green doesn't mean success. Some days will tell more I suppose.
              You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 1 photos.

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              • #10
                Will try and limit updates to weekly from here on. So far, Valley Black is the only one showing green activity.

                Four Eye Hortilux Power Veg T5 bulbs were added to the 8 bulb fixture on 9/25, replacing four factory bulbs and timer set to 18 hours on, 6 off. A small fan was also added, set on one end and turns on with the light, sort of blowing across the bulbs. There is quite a bit of heat associated with this fixture and I thought lower 90's F was a bit too warm for my liking at top of sand level. With the fan it stays in the low 80's. I suspect if the light were raised off the top of the buckets, this would not be an issue.

                The leaves are not yellowing as it may appear. The largest leaf was quite yellowed also but has greened up just in the last few days since adding the new bulbs and having another dose of fertigation.

                You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 1 photos.

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                • #11
                  Charlie,

                  As always you do some real cool stuff. I'm very happy to see that this experiment is looking promising, and eagerly await upcoming updates.

                  Thank you for sharing!
                  Scott - Colorado Springs, CO - Zone 4/5 (Depending on the year) - Elevation 6266ft

                  “Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.” – Bill Mollison

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                  • Charlie
                    Charlie commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Thanks Scott. I'm concerned about the other varieties not showing anything. Hope they're making roots and just slow to sprout green.

                  • COGardener
                    COGardener commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Time will tell, must be hard to not disturb then wanting to look.

                • #12
                  I know it's just been five days since updating but it feels like a week! There's quite good growth happening with this Valley Black. Still no show on the other varieties.
                  You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 1 photos.

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                  • #13
                    Couldn't stand it any longer wondering about the other varieties, figuring they must have rotted by now. So one by one I took each bucket out and to the sink where I sprayed water in to saturate the sand and shook the bucket to make the sand a fluid bed. Each cutting floated up to the surface and showed roots forming, some more than others but none appear to be rotted or molded. I left them closer to the surface where the moisture is less but still moist all the time.

                    The screen drains do serve a purpose!

                    I feel much better now.

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                    • #14
                      Very nice Charlie. It's nice to know, the curiosity would have gotten to me as well!
                      Scott - Colorado Springs, CO - Zone 4/5 (Depending on the year) - Elevation 6266ft

                      “Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.” – Bill Mollison

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                      • #15
                        Updating for today so I can do weekly updates on Saturday's.
                        You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 1 photos.

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                        • #16
                          Might not be around to do an update tomorrow so here it is a day early. Longue d' Aout is making an appearance and Valley Black simply showing off!

                          Nutrient going in was changed last Sunday to General Hydroponics FloraMato 10-6-18 at 1/4 tsp per gallon as directed for cuttings.

                          Water loss about 1/8 inch every 1-2 days now.

                          The light was raised a couple of inches with wooden spacers, since the leaves on Valley Black looked like they were curling up. After raising, the leaves went back to normal and the heat inside the buckets still is in the lower 80's.

                          This weekend will hopefully see a re-configuration of the whole setup. Plan is to hang the other light with both being next to a wall and adding trays underneath, with growbags of sand in the trays.

                          It's easy to see now with Valley Black, the buckets are not suitable. I neglected to realize these are not single node cuttings and had not actually planned on multiple trunks but hey, I'm not complaining. There has to be the ability to raise smaller plants to the lights while keeping the light at least a foot away from the tops of taller plants, per Eye Hortilux bulb recommendations. Each plant needs it's own tray.

                          Good thing I won't be having as many plants this winter as last year. I want fewer and be able to give each quality it deserves.
                          You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 4 photos.

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                          • #17
                            Been awhile since I posted here for an update so here it is. Did away with the wicking buckets awhile back and went to Root Pouch grow bags in the 2 gallon size. The bags sit in cut bucket bottoms and about a 1/4 inch of fertigation water is maintained, well not really constantly since the plants have gotten so big now they suck all the water up twice a day. Some of them I give an inch twice a day.

                            Also am doing some single nodes and some multi nodes in smaller grow bags made from landscape fabric and used a seal-a-meal to fuse the seams, Working pretty good.

                            A few smaller plants that were just shooting were lost due to algae forming a matt on the surface that increased wicking and so made the sand too wet. Surface watering was stopped completely and everything has gotten good again.

                            Just yesterday the T5 fixtures were abandoned since the growth of different varieties was overwhelming the smaller ones and causing them to suffer from being too far from the light. Broke out the 1000Watt metal halide and spaced the plants out. The seem to like it.

                            Letizia apparently came with spider mites. She was the only plant with them, far as I could see so I set off a Pyrethrum TR fogger last night in the room just to be sure. Those little buggerers are hard to see and only the webbing they make between the leaves gave them away.

                            Still not a single fungus gnat since starting this project. I like that.

                            Here's a few pics.

                            You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 12 photos.

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                            • #18
                              Oops forgot a few.
                              You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 5 photos.

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                              • #19
                                Absolutely amazing as always Charlie! Man I need to step up my game!!!
                                Scott - Colorado Springs, CO - Zone 4/5 (Depending on the year) - Elevation 6266ft

                                “Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.” – Bill Mollison

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                                • Charlie
                                  Charlie commented
                                  Editing a comment
                                  Thanks Scott! It definitely helps the winter go by.

                                • COGardener
                                  COGardener commented
                                  Editing a comment
                                  I bet it does, do you actually have time to sit down?

                              • #20
                                Charlie, that is just awesome! I'm always quite impressed reading about your experiments, and this one looks kind of like you have combined the single node experiment with the wicking sand and have made it work.
                                USDA Zone 9b Wish list: Abruzzi, Pasquale, Filacciano, Tagliacozzo, Zingarella, Godfather. Any, including unknowns, from Abruzzo, Italy.

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                                • #21
                                  Originally posted by joann1536 View Post
                                  Charlie, that is just awesome! I'm always quite impressed reading about your experiments, and this one looks kind of like you have combined the single node experiment with the wicking sand and have made it work.
                                  Thanks Joann. It does seem to be working so far but won't get too excited just yet. About the time I did get excited over BM in last year's single node experiment, they all croaked.
                                  You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 1 photos.

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                                  • Erick
                                    Erick commented
                                    Editing a comment
                                    Hey Charlie this experiment is really neat. I know you said the sand wicks about four inches up into the sand and the cutting is just below the surface. But how far is it from where the wicking stops to the top of the sand.

                                  • Charlie
                                    Charlie commented
                                    Editing a comment
                                    The sand is four inches deep Erick. Since the surface is exposed it dries somewhat, unless algae forms, then it stays too wet. Just under the cuttings the sand is moist.

                                • #22
                                  Here's some root pics to confound and amaze. Well, they do me lol. I never expected this from grow bags but after observing, the bags wick too, all the way to the top of them and so the roots stay alive on the outside of the bags above the water surface and in the bottoms of the trays.

                                  These photo's were taken just before watering. They look like this morning and evening and I give the larger plants like these about an inch twice daily. Up until yesterday they got fertilizer in the water for every watering, General Hydroponics FloraMato 10-6-18, one tsp per gallon. They are growing so fast I'm now giving them only water and will add the fertilizer maybe once a week.
                                  You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 6 photos.

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