Dissembling the Tower
This has got to be the largest root bound pot in the whole wild World! In my last post, I was writing about the fact that my levander plant planted at the bottom of the GT2 was growing out of control; but I failed to mention that the Russian Kale that I planted last spring was also growing very strong all through the winter and was getting out of hand too. Yes, I did get a lot of Kale leaves, so much so that I made two big batches of Kale chips, a month ago and I have yet to finish them. However, last month when all the seedlings were going on sale, I went to Star nursery and bought different lettuces and spinachs to be planted in some of the empty pockets, as well as some flowers too; but after a month, they hardly grew and all the greens were showing signs of malnutrition. I finally decided to take the levander plant out, as well as the Russian Kale too as they are beginning to bolt because of the warming weather. I wanted to find out what was going on. The levander plant is so huge that there is no way I could pull them out, and since it is at the bottom level, I just have to dissemble the complete tower. I started pulling the snow peas out on top and tried to put them at another place. The top layer of dirt was fine, but when I got to the second layer, the soil was compacted and rock hard! I tried to scoop it out, and it was hard and dry, and I found there were thin and dense root growing all the way into the compose tube (I have not emptied the compose tube all winter because of just sheer laziness, I guess). I proceeded to the third level, and the deeper I go, the harder it was. The Red Russian Kale were on the fourth level, and the stem was two inches in diameter! And the roots! Even with the GT2 rings removed, I had to chop and pull, and choped and pull before I could get rid of those Russian Kale. And as I go down further, I discovered the soil was just plain dry and completely compacted, and tiny clumps of roots were going every each way. It was getting so hot under the Vegas sun so I finally decided to stop at lunch time and do the rest of the job the next day. This morning, I woke up at 6:00 am when it was still cool, I started again, chopping through all the roots, and putting the mix of roots and soil into a big black plastic tub. It took me all morning. Ahhhh!!! In between, I tried to shake the soil into the tub and put clumps of the root in another box, but there were still a lot of small hairy roots mixed in between. Finally, I got to the bottom layer, got the levander plant into a fabric pot. I had to use a shear to cut off some of the roots of both the levander and the kale, as I could not even pull some of them off! Apparently, the whole Tower was bound inside with roots, big and small. I could not even distinguish which roots belong to which plant. They were all intertwined.
REASSEMBLING THE TOWER
Now it gets to the time of reassembling the Tower, including the compost tube, (as that was soil bound too and had to be take apart in order for it to be emptied). I decided I was not going to buy any new soil, and would try to reconstitute the soil in my rubber tub. I kind of scoop them back in the Tower, layer by layer, but in between, I added granulated fertilizer and worm castings which I had bought for my fruit tree planting, watering each layer as I go. I tried to get as much clumps of root out as I can. I don’t know how the whole Tower will do in the coming season with the oil reconstitued soil. This is a big experiment.
One thing I did not mention, I noticed that there were hardly any worms left, probably because of the dryness of the soil. Only a handful was found at the bottom layer of the Tower where it was at least a little bit moist. I had watered everyday before, both from the top and with the watering system installed inside. But I guess because of the bound roots, water was not really absorbed into the soil and just ran straight out, and contributed to a dry, root bound Tower.
It took me all morning, and here are some pictures showing the whole thing. Well, now the GT2 is half way decent. I replanted a few of the mulnutitioned lettuce and merry golds. The rest of the pockets, I am just going to direct seed and see what will happen. Keeping my fingers crossed that the poor left over plants will come back, and the seeds will germinate soon.