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Other benefits of clay pot irrigation include the ability to fertilize through the pot. Dissolved fertilizer is able to seep through the clay pot allowing the farmer to fertilize only the area necessary for the plant to grow. This allows the farmer the ability to use 50% less fertilizer than previously used. (Daka, 2001) Fertilizer use should be adapted to the plant needs and will require some experimentation. This is particularly important because home gardeners are the greatest polluters in terms of fertilizer compared to industrial farms.
Clay pot irrigation is flexible. (See image 4) You may place a clay pot in the center of a container pot and plant around it for simple container garden irrigation. The size of the clay pot is dependent on the size of the container. Planting within 1 inch of the clay pot appears to be an effective strategy. Dry orchards in India recommend clay pot irrigation in order to establish seedlings. The survival rates of seedlings irrigated with clay pots were 96.5% compared to 62% for hand watering. The seedlings enjoyed a 20% increase in height as well. (Bainbridge, 2000) Plant propagation succeeds greatly with buried clay pot irrigation as well.
How does clay pot irrigation work with row crops? Quite well it turns out. The study mentioned above placed 5 L clay pots at 0.5m intervals in a bad of 4m x 1m. The study used 8 clay pots per bed and the crops were planted 45 cm from the clay pot and 10 cm from the ends of the bed. The spacing that was used was based off traditional horticultural recommendations of 30cm x 90cm for cabbage, cauliflower, maize, rape, and tomatoes. Beans and onions were spaced at 10cm x 15cm between and on the side of the pots. Tensiometers were installed at a depth of 30cm upwards of 45cm away from the clay pots. When the pots were half full or when the tensiometers reached -20kPa or -40kPa the clay pots were refilled. This system worked quite well while maintaining the typical planting suggestions of row crops while placing the clay pots in between rows. (Daka, 2001)
A vast majority of United States citizen’s food comes from the grocery store and thus large-scale monoculture farms. Large portions of America’s diet are foods that have been processed. In order to increase fruit and vegetable consumption I suggest widespread implementation of organic gardens at home. These gardens would be similar to the victory gardens of World War II. Many people do not garden. Some of the reasons include a general lack of knowledge, lack of time, lack of resources and general ease of food sourcing from large grocery stores. Clay pot irrigation may be a solution to many of these problems.
It is becoming clear that consuming organic fruit and vegetables as well as organically raised grass fed beef and organic meats along with a decreased intake of refined carbohydrates are the cornerstones to health. Organic foods offer the benefit of reduced toxin exposure, increased micronutrient content, and they are safer to the environment. (Murray N.D., Pizzorno N.D., & Pizzorno M.A., L.M.T) Clay pot irrigation, while requiring continued study, may be a portion of the solution to many of the questions posed above. The food produced by large-scale conventional agriculture has become toxic to the health of Americans. The ease of use, decreased time requirements, as well as increased yields demonstrated by clay pot irrigation may make gardening more accessible to the average American. Widespread clay pot irrigation in gardens may be the catalyst that allows the average American greater health, increased food security, and independence.