Following is one of many examples demonstrating the failure of the USDA/Land Grant University Extension Program to provide consumers with up to date information about growing local food. See prior post.
A gardening article in a Canton, Illinois paper written by an Extension educator links to this Watch Your Garden Grow guide. The authors are Extension educators, one from Cook County including Chicago.
It is significant to note that the tutorial contains no usable information about sub-irrigation or any other modern method of growing local food. The ludicrous assumption appears to be that the word garden is synonymous with dirt or drain holes.
Following below is what the guide has to say about container gardening. Note the reference to "the earthbox". EarthBox, of course, is a trade name not a generic name.
Sub-irrigated planters (SIPs) like the EarthBox are self-contained. There is no water wasted due to drainage. Note what the tutorial has to say about drainage.
"All containers, whether plastic or clay must have drainage."
"Containers with no drainage will cause your vegetables to develop root rot."
I see statements like this in Extension guides all the time. It is factually incorrect. Anyone who knows about SIPs can easily prove it.
Those who grow in SIPs know that they produce very healthy plants free of root rot. If anything, they prevent root due to the combination water and oxygen reservoir.
What is particularly deplorable is that one of the authors is deeply involved in the use of SIPs at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. It is one of the finest examples of hardscaped urban gardening in the country. There are more than 70 EarthBox type SIPs on the granite steps of the museum as well as the upper deck of the Smart Home exhibit.
Why isn't valuable information like this included in this gardening guide and many other Extension guides? This major question continues to go unanswered by the Extension program. The public deserves better.
If you don't have space in your backyard or only have access to a sunny balcony or patio, you can still grow vegetables in containers. A container for vegetables can be as simple as a bushel basket lined with plastic, a hanging basket or a self contained growing unit like the earthbox.
All containers, whether plastic or clay must have drainage. Soil in containers will dry out quickly, so frequent watering is necessary. Containers with no drainage will cause your vegetables to develop root rot. Use a sterilized, soil less mix for your container garden. Soilless mixes are light and contain some organic matter. Fertilize with a slow-release vegetable garden fertilizer that is applied in the spring and will provide nutrients for your veggies throughout the growing season. Read more...