Air pruning barrel for trees & some great pickings..

Posted December 24th, 2013 by Rob Bob : )»

Air pruning wicking barrel...

Have been interested in trying some air pruning gardening for a while now so decided to give it a whirl.. Thanks to Better days for starting the "Grow vegies in bags" thread on SS a while back & helping to get me started, Cheers :)»
Air pruning isn't a new idea & is used in the nursery trade to grow advanced trees for landscaping in relatively small pots.. They are generally pots with holes all the way around the outside as well as in the base.. Some are also made out of a thick polypropylene material, the same as the reusable shopping bags..
In normal propagation pots the plants tend to become root bound as the roots slowly start to grow around the outer edge of the pot.. These old roots are not very efficient at providing nutrients to the plant so the plant growth tends to become stunted..
When the roots grow to the outside of an air pruning pot they hit the warmer, drier air from outside & tend to die off.. This helps to prevent the roots wrapping around the pot becoming root bound & also sends a signal to the plant to send out more roots to replace the dying ones.. These new roots will have more vigour & tend to be more efficient at absorbing nutrients, allowing the plant to grow larger in a smaller container..
I have played around with making up an air pruning bag out of a shopping bag before & it has gone really well so far although I don't think the material will hold up too long being exposed to the summer sun.. I was also gifted some commercially available air pruning bags called "Smart pots" from a friend in the United States, Cheers Mr Dale, but unfortunately I haven't found the time to set these up as yet.. I hope to have them set up around the "Simple Savings" bag shortly after the New Year and they will be home to some small bushes, veggies & herbs :)»
I decided to have a go at making up a larger air pruning barrel as a way to grow some fruiting trees rather than planting them in the ground.. That way they can be moved around if need be in the future.. The first guinea pig was to be our dwarf red paw paw/papaya..

I think that growing dwarf fruit trees in air pruning pots like this DIY barrel or a purchased version is a great idea for folks that only have a small yard or even only a balcony to grow on.. Could be an ideal way for renters to grow some fruit trees as well I think..

A bit of a wander through the back patch...
Haven't posted a walk through clip of the garden or aquaponics for quite some time so here you go for those that are interested..
First is a wander through the backyard patch..

& managed to do a quick trip around the aquaponics as well,

Hope to have the aquaponics moved around & a start made on the RAS/Fish farm by the time the next blog is posted..

A few harvests from the patch..

The garden out the front has started to give up some of its bounty :)»
Decided to harvest the Jarrahdale pumpkins along with the melons over the past few weeks.. The spaghetti squash in the picture was a bit of an dud unfortunately :/ Once we cut it open it became obvious that the fruit fly had laid eggs into the fruit when it was a younger plant.. Most of the inside had started to turn to slush..

A few of the pumpkins have already been devoured in pumpkin, spinach & feta quiches.. These are becoming a bit of a standard meal here when we have an excess of eggs to use up & is loved by all..
We were most pleased with the melons from this small harvest.. The whole family have agreed that these have been the juiciest & sweetest melons we have ever grown.. One of the benefits to growing these mini lee watermelons is that they make the perfect snack for 2 people, so less space is taken up in the fridge.. They also come in their own bowl which helps minimise the mess factor ;)
Along with the cucurbits some of the Aztec corn has been harvested..
This style of corn is known as "Indian" as well as "flint" corn due to the hard kernels.. The flavour of this corn can only be described as bland..I have been told the best way to prepare this style of corn is to put it through a liming/nixtamalization process.. This process helps to make the vitamin B3 in the corn more available for the body to absorb as well as making the corn itself more easily digestible.. This process is also said to help bring out the flavour of the corn & make it more flavoursome.. The process involves soaking the corn before heating the kernels in a lime based alkaline solution (normally food grade calcium hydroxide or dolomite lime) before processing them into masa flour.. It is then ready to be turned into traditional tortillas.. It might appear to be a bit of an involved process for some but as I like to try to make everything we normally eat at least once from scratch I think this will be fun..
This corn can also be used for popping, parching or just grinding into a corn meal.. I think the majority of ours will be used for popping & seed saving this time round.. If we get a large enough harvest of the Glass Gem corn we might add the 2 together to make up some flour, we shall see..

I think that's pretty much it for this blog as well as for 2013..
Would like to wish you all the best for Christmas/holidays & the little that remains of 2013..
I hope you have all had a blessed year & would like to wish you all the best for 2014..

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