Archive for June, 2010

“Everyone Knows Someone Who Needs This Information! (TM)

In today’s uncertain economic future, when you may be hit with unemployment or reduced income on top of struggling with diabetes in your family, then this Gardening for Diabetics series is important for you!

Not only will you be able to eat more fresh, healthy, low glycemic, pH alkaline food, but for the techniques which I have shared in parts 1-4, you will not need much money to get your garden started.

These simple gardens can make a huge, positive change happen in your life!

The following 2 techniques (aquaponics and aeroponics) which are  explained today require more equipment, so I will not give lots of information – there’s plenty to get you started at specialized sites online.  But I wanted to introduce these ideas to you because both are very effective methods. In fact, aquaponics has been practiced in Asia for centuries, if not millennia.

Biochemically, you need to constantly detoxify your body if you have diabetes, and the best foods to do this with are organically-grown, low glycemic vegetables e.g. leafy greens and other alkaline foods like papaya, sweet potato, seaweed, avocado and more.

I have written about alkaline foods (look in the Title Archive, link above).

You only want to feed your family healthy food —  for the least amount of money — so having your own garden IS the way.

It’s an idea needed to make global and personal change. We need to start growing our own food, or at least a decent portion of it.

In other parts of my series, you have seen people are beginning to use sunny windows, rooftops, reclaim vacant land (with permission), encouraging their city to make community gardens and more.

The “food miles” involved in producing your food and dragging it an average of 1,400 miles in the US,  is untenable in today’s world and in all future scenarios.

If we persist in using this flawed system, food prices will become astronomical. Get out of the loop  and become independent, now!

There’s a link below to an Aussie report as an example of how much can even be home-grown on an apartment balcony, let alone what can be done on a roof or a backyard.

If you are lucky enough to have a yard, then you can make miracles happen, even if yours is a tiny plot of land.  Maybe you will even sell your fish and produce as a Southern California family has been doing (for more than a decade) in a small but intensely efficient garden.

Their current production record is 6,000 pounds of food from their 1/5 acre yard garden!!!! Yes, you read that correctly!

Links for these encouraging sites are at the end of my article. And, be sure to notice that these techniques will help with America’s and the global fresh water access crisis. There’s not enough fresh water now in most parts of the world. Water conservation is critical. These gardening techniques require the least water.

All of this is good self-help and good parenting because is also the route to return to Health and fight Obesity.

Many young people are pre-diabetic or even have Type 2 diabetes, long regarded as a disease of middle age and beyond.

No-one can afford to sit around still thinking that somehow expensive medicines are the answer. They are not.

Dr. Gabriel Cousens, MD and other health professionals with open minds have consistently shown that the proper diet of healthy foods, alone, can improve and even reverse Type 2 diabetes, and increase quality of life for type 1 diabetics.  Type 2 diabetics were able to reduce and in some cases even eliminate their medication.  Start gardening and eating all your produce, so you may have these results, too. Just do it!

Now on to the 2 techniques for today.

___   Aquaponics will produce LOTS of FAST, healthy food! And, as it is an ecologically sound system, you will not really need outside supplies, once it is properly set up, and you learn how to run your unit efficiently.

The end products will be that you will produce are:

___   either freshwater prawns, tilapia fish or arctic char fish to eat

___   also organic fruits and/or  vegetables.

Your diabetes diet plan will be filled with accessible, low-cost, healthy food. You will not even have to buy fertilizer. And, if you keep plant seeds, then you will not even have to buy plant seeds next season, but I think you will buy some, as you want to try new vegetables and fruits.

You can learn how to properly prepare home-harvested seeds for storage — check Seedsavers Exchange. One version of aquaponics is barrel-ponics.

___   In my reading about these systems, I think Aeroponics is the most technical, requires the most equipment and cannot be sustained without buying commercial products. But, it is a very effective way to grow food. For sure.

If you have a couple of hundred dollars to spend on a trial, then you could buy one of the tiny countertop units like AeroGarden. Just look for the official website, and see their authorized retailers. Theirs is a small but well-made system.

Do NOT have anything to do with Earth Solutions Farm-in-a-Box.  It is exorbitantly priced and when investigated by others online, the reviewers said it used materials toxic to the fish as well as being shoddily made.


Balcony Garden in Sydney, Australia Once established, this garden takes only 10 minutes of care a week!


Free download: The BarrelPonics Manual

Food for Fish – BioPod Plus and she is an Aquaponics – acknowledged expert

Ebb and Flow – Aeroponic or Aquaponic Text and Video: Hydroponics on a Toronto Balcony

For genetic biodiversity it is important to grow no hybrids. Use heirloom vegetable and fruit varieties, only. Get them at: RareSeeds.com
and SeedSavers Exchange Catalog

Raising Fish in the City

Dervaes Family Garden. Southern California’s celebrated home-gardeners. and Path to Freedom, Dervaes Family

Zero Power Aquaponic System Remember to only use food-grade plastics and NO PVC!

Brix Meter and organic BioVam Method. A Brix meter is needed for any garden, as it measures carbohydrate plant content to tell you exactly when your crop is “ripe”.

Seed Search Engine

Help Getting Seeds

Community Food Advocacy

Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholamew
Perennial Vegetables by Eric Toensmeier
Backyard Self-Sufficiency by Jackie French

Diabetics Need to Garden, Part 1

Diabetics Need to Garden, Part 2

Diabetics Need to Garden, Part 3

Hydroponics with Safer Plastics Part 4A

5 Gallon Bucket Gardening Part 4B

Hydroponic Gardening Part 4C

5 Gallon Bucket Hydroponic Gardening Part 4D

Gardening in Rubbermaid Totes Part 4E

Please read the Titles Archive to find 3 years of posts to help you learn more about alternative ways to help your diabetes.

Please share this article with your friends, family and Web 2.0 sites.

(c)2010 Em at https://diabetesdietdialogue.wordpress.com

If you desire to quote more than 2 short paragraphs of my article, then please write for permission at the About Me tab on the upper navigation bar. Thanks!

Read Full Post »

“Everyone Knows Someone Who Needs This Information!” (TM)

The statistics are staggering! In America, one out of every 400-600 elementary school aged children has type-1 diabetes, and 2 million adolescent Americans have it, too!  And, although these 2007 are the “latest” statistics available, I am sure that the numbers are far worse in 2010! We have to actively search for solutions.

It may seem strange that I have spent SO much time talking about gardening on my blog recently, and finding techniques with the best chance of success and greater yields, but a lot of the source of diabetes and pre-diabetes is because of poor food choice.

That food choice may or may not be from ignorance about what constitutes a “healthy diet”. Certainly everyone needs to be taught what a healthy diet is, — early in school and then updated all the way to high school graduation.

But, along with moderate daily exercise (just the chance for kids to “play” outside, for at least an hour), there are economic factors, worsened by the current financial downturn and parental unemployment. Sometimes, too, even in good times, individuals and families do not have enough money to buy enough healthy food, even though they know what they need to buy.

So, the answer, for many reasons, is to grow-your-own!

Fresh, alkaline, organic food from plenty of healthy vegetables and a few fruits can make a difference for everyone’s health. And, it is like money in the bank, to tide your family over rough finances and other emergencies.

Accommodate your lifestyle to learn these skills and teach these basic survival skills to your children!

Knowing how to garden and accurately forage are critical. If you don’t know how, you are putting your whole family at risk.

Eating more fresh, organic food is very likely to help you if you are overweight or obese, as alkaline vegetables are your first line of defense. They are calorically small, nutritionally huge and alkaline to help you get rid of acidic pH tissue toxins (which need to be encased in fat to protect the rest of your body).

So, before it’s too late, this month get started on this garden project.  Transplants will become harder to find as the season continues (and then you’ll need to grow from seed, which means you will be “late” with smaller chance to harvest).

Get organized, then go-with-the-flow of Life. Gardening is usually considered stress-reducing and good therapy.

The techniques I show let you get away for a few days of traveling, and not have your whole garden at risk, but you should get someone to check it daily in summer (it may or may not require any water for most days with this technique, but when the plants NEED water, they MUST have it!).

Both youth and seniors need this superior nutrition from fresh food, even more than the rest of us do.

Whether you are pre-diabetic, undiagnosed diabetic, a type-1 diabetic or type-2 diabetic, this is fundamental to returning to Health: 70% of your diet must be green, leafy vegetables, low glycemic fruits and vegetables and a few higher glycemic vegetables once in a while. The rest of your plate should be the equivalent of a palm size portion of protein and about 2 teaspoons of a monosaturated oil (organic canola or olive oil) or flax or hemp oil, per meal. Never cook either flax oil or hemp oil; just use them in dressings. Other articles here on the blog will help you. See the archive.

Now, for this week’s hydroponic technique which utilizes, specifically, RUBBERMAID brand totes. These are made of LDPE type plastic and are made to food-grade specifications. You should only use food-grade plastic in food production and preparation.

Most plastics are not food-grade. You can use clean, recycled food containers and buckets OR items like the Rubbermaid totes which are made properly.

Use no PVC and nothing which has housed chemicals, kitty litter etc. There are instructions to set up gardening systems all over the Internet which use PVC and these other items. Do Not!

Polypropylene is an acceptable plastic when food-grade, as is PET or PETE. This is the plastic used in clear water bottles. HDPE and LDPE are used in milk jugs and (maybe) distilled water jugs. Check the recycle number on the bottom of the container. HDPE and LDPE is OK when it is food-grade (already having been used only for food, and sometimes labeled as such). The manufacturer will only have been allowed to use designated food-grade for American food products. Bets are off if the food is imported.

In past sections of this series, I have explained these designations. See links below. Double-click on the images to enlarge them.


There are 2 forms of gardening in Rubbermaid totes. One system uses potting mix and can use rainwater or tap water or a combo.  The second system uses a “growth medium and must use hydroponic nutrient solutions, only.


System 1 –  Gardening with Potting Mix and Water:

And, I do mean “potting mix” NOT “potting soil”; there are important differences.

In your 10 – 18 gallon Rubbermaid tote, photo 3, if you are using potting mix, you can leave the tote’s rim + about an inch just inside it, and cut the rest of the lid’s center section off, in one piece, to become a support platform between the potting mix and the air / water reservoir (photo2). Or, you can keep the lid intact, as in Photo 1. Instructions are below for each set-up.

You will need to drill holes into the lid cutoff to make the horizontal  “aeration bench” platform plastic. And, you will need to cover the top surface of the tote’s soil mix with a white plastic bag in summer and a black bag in winter. A hole must be cut in the bag for EACH plant to come completely through, when planting.

The plastic bag needs to be brought all the way down the side to protect the Rubbermaid tote, as UV rays will destroy the tote, otherwise, in about 3 years if your sunshine is strong. This is needed in both systems.

Notice, in Photo 2, that you must also have a food-grade perforated “wicking pot” filled with potting soil, sitting all the way down to the bottom of the tub OR suspended well into the liquid reservoir (in this case, cotton string wicks must reach from the base of the wicking pot all the way to the bottom).

Drill a support hole for the basket in the horizontal “aeration bench” center. Perforated large yogurt containers work well for “wicking pots”, or you can get large perforated pots (net pots) at a hydroponic supply. The size holes used to perforate the yogurt containers is about 7/64 inch. Start with 4 – 6 per container and see how that works for your climate.


If you keep the lid intact, as in photo 1, this lets you use either potting mix OR growing medium*in any future season. However, you must then use other options to make the “aeration bench” platform:

___   plastic pegboard exists, but I doubt it is food-grade plastic

___   plastic needlwork “canvas” from craft store –  would be unknown plastic

___   moderate-size surgical stainless steel mesh or fiberglass screen – good

___   perforated steel gutter covering strips – may contain unacceptable metals in the alloy, but also might be a possible choice – ask alloy questions

___   surgical-grade perforated stainless steel (but you will have to watch the pH of your hydroponic nutrient solution, in any of the metal suggestions, as metal may require you to balance pH) – otherwise, good (unless you have a real allergy to nickel, which is the metal used to prevent the iron in the steel from rusting).

___   “landscape fabric”, “shade cloth” – of unknown content

___   untreated polyester** quilt batting OR organic cotton batting OR coconut coir mat to serve as a filter barrier – good. Use it in combination with the next idea; let it rest on top of the following …

___   PREFERRED: a number of perforated plastic milk jugs and juice bottles to cover the whole bottom of the tote, to serve as the platform, and the vertical fill tube will be inserted in one. The perforations are at all levels as the jugs lie. The water flows into and back out of all the jugs, eventually, through all the holes. Use an amount of water which will leave about 1/2″ – 1″ airspace at the top of the bottles. There must also be one potting mix-filled or “growing medium-filled” “wicking pot” sitting on the bottom, too, connected to the rest of the soil mix (open a circle in the barrier fabrics mentioned immediately above). This “wicking pot” will get all the moisture to the bottom of the tub, when most of the containers are nearly empty, as long as there are holes in the jugs on all sides.

The perforated platform “aeration bench” barrier ideally rests on the “connected milk jug fill-tube system” described, or you can just leave a big, undifferentiated water reservoir  area, which is fed by the fill-tube (bottom end cut on the diagonal) as long as the horizontal aeration-barrier is supported above the air-water reservoir, probably by 4 – 6 vertical, totally perforated juice bottles,  to the floor of the tote, as well as by side-pressure (as the tote is tapered). Again, one, potting-mix filled  “wicking pot” must reach all the way to the bottom, suspended from the platform. Look at the diagram in Photo 2 and just pretend the water is encased in perforated bottles, as I have described.

There must be airspace.

An overflow hole must be drilled. This is explained below, as it is needed for both systems. Suggested hole-size for all holes is 5/16 inch. Use a drill.

I believe that the system using potting mix and regular water / rainwater is by far the easier system. It can grow any vegetable, plant, flower or dwarf tree, as long as organic fertilizer is used to replace soil mix nutrients through the season.


System 2 – With just Growth Medium and Hydroponic Nutrient Solutions

Acceptable soiless growing “medium” = perlite, washed pea gravel, “rockwool”,  or coconut coir. This replaces the spaces shown with potting mix in Photo 2, above.

If using  a growing medium, then you cannot use regular water.

Larger systems like the 5 gallon buckets and 10 quart to 18 quart Rubbermaid tote need to aerate the roots, in either system.

You also must use nutrient solutions mixed up from ingredients found pre-made, just for hydroponic growing. So, for this type of totally soiless system, you will need to set-up an air pump outside, and submersible aquarium pump and airstone in the tote.  And keep the original lid, with desired number of pots inserted.

There are more instructions to set-up this equipment, on the Internet.

Using pure hydroponics, you will also need to segregate your types of plants.

Group 1 – leafy vegetables, which do not flower in order to make fruit e.g. salad greens, lettuces, parsley etc.

Group 2 –  tomatoes, eggplants, melons etc. which produce flowers which then produce the fruit or vegetable.

Each of the 2 groups requires different hydroponic nutrient solutions, in a completely hydroponic system, so any individual planter can only grow one group type.

In a totally hydroponic solution system, without soil, use the top of the Rubbermaid tote to have holes and hydroponic “net pots” or perforated large yogurt containers, with a plant and medium inside the small pot. Most of the tote will be nutrient solution, with wicks from each pot to the bottom of the tote. Leave an airspace pocket, too.

The plant roots need to dip into the nutrient solution for at least 1 inch, after seedling stage is finished; they automatically will grow as long roots as they can, but you still need the wicks, as insurance.

The hydroponic nutrient solution needs to be changed every 2 weeks, as well as having healthy liquid levels at all times


Either system needs an “overflow hole” with a piece of drinking straw inserted in it to keep it freely flowing. The height of the hole is just at the lower level of the airspace near the platform, as shown in Photo 2. The hole size should start at 5/16 inch.

Either system needs a fill-tube indicator — this is just a the thinnest diameter wooden dowel with a cork inserted in the end. It sits in the vertical fill tube and you mark the level on the dip-stick which correlates to the tote being at 25% full of liquid in the reservoir. When that mark is level with the top of the fill-tube, at that point, I recommend watering!

Both systems need a vertical fill-tube which is cut on a 45-degree angle at the base. All over the Internet, the plans ‘just use PVC pipe’ for this, but I have taught you NOT to use PVC! So, what you will do is to use PET or PETE clear plastic 1 liter or 2 liter water bottles to “make” the tube.

This can be made either by cutting the bottoms off and have them all wedged together in a tower — using food-grade silicone sealer on the outside seams, only if the bottle seams leak.

OR, you just make a small hole in the bottom of each bottle, smaller than the bottles’ opening. Push hard to insert the open bottle neck into the bottom of the bottle above it. It should be snug from starting with a slightly too-small hole.  Same deal with the food-grade, kitchen silicone.

There’s no set height for how tall the fill-pipe should be. It must reach up just beyond the top of the tote as a minimum. Method 2 will make a sturdier fill-pipe and use fewer bottles.

In photo 1, the number of holes cut into the intact, whole lid of the Rubbermaid tote depends on which plants you are growing. For guidelines, please see the EarthBox site (link in Part 4D). The tote box can support the growth of an amazing amount of food.

As the seasons change, sometimes not all the holes in the lid will be used. Make sure to cover all unused holes and the fill tube top with shade cloth, fiberglass screen or a piece of panty hose, to prevent access by mosquitoes to lay eggs!


A plastic bag needs to be brought all the way down the side of the tote or taped around the outside (lid and sides). This is to protect the Rubbermaid tote, as UV rays will destroy the bin, otherwise, in about 3 years, if your sunshine is strong. This is needed in both systems.

The Rubbermaid totes can be made to contain tomato cages and trellises, either internally or nearby. They can be placed on movable pallets, but mobility is confined if it is a truly hydroponic system with pumps and electrical connections. That’s another reason why I prefer the potting mix – regular water system.

Personally, I think the potting mix, liquid fish emulsion fertilizer and regular water is the way to go. It does not require pumps or aeration, either. And, if you do not want to have to check the fill-pipe everyday, then except in the hottest days of summer, having an external reservoir connected (see diagrams in Part 4D), will give you more time between waterings.

I am not going to provide instructions for more complex ebb and flow or NFS (Nutrient Film Systems) hydroponic systems, but this information is on the internet.

If you want to buy commercial units to replicate the tote systems shown here, then check into Earth Tainer(TM) and EarthBox(TM), Emily’s Garden (TM) from hydrofar,.com and AeroGarden (TM) online.

* acceptable soiless growing “medium” = perlite, washed pea gravel, “rockwool” or coconut coir.

** PET and PETE plastics are made into polyester fabric, often, when they are recycled. Top tier fashion designers are now using this recycled bottle-cloth!


Diabetics Need to Garden, Part 1
Diabetics Need to Garden, Part 2
Diabetics Need to Garden, Part 3
Hydroponics with Safer Plastics
Small Food-grade Self-watering Planters Part 4B
Hydroponic Gardening in Glass Bottles Part 4C
5 Gallon Bucket Hydroponic Gardening Part 4D

Please read the Titles Archive to find 3 years of posts to help you learn more about alternative ways to help your diabetes.

(c)2010 Em at https://diabetesdietdialogue.wordpress.com

If you desire to quote more than 2 short paragraphs of my article, then please write for permission at the About Me tab on the upper navigation bar. Thanks!

Read Full Post »

“Everyone Knows Someone Who Needs This Information!” (TM)

Diabetics need to monitor their Health very closely and cannot slip-by with little indulgences. Your diabetic diet plan needs to be in place 24-7, and that means eating PLENTY of fresh vegetables and a few fresh fruits! Many diabetics are having to make trade-offs between buying their medications and testing equipment and eating healthy food. Now, there’s a few more choices to keep healthy and organic food as the foundation of your diabetic diet. Keep reading.

Hydroponics is a form of container gardening. It uses soil and a water reservoir in the root zone OR it uses no soil and then requires nutrient solutions (not just regular water) in a reservoir. It is one of the easiest ways to grow anything, but for our purposes, this discussion mostly deals with growing vegetables, as 70% of every meal should be low-glycemic index vegetables, preferably raw or lightly-steamed. That’s true for a diabetic diet and just about everyone else’s diet, too.

Alkaline food, like most vegetables, is essential for helping to neutralize the overly acidic tissues most diabetics have. Big Pharma and their drugs just make you more acidic, so if you are taking the “usual” medications, this makes action on your part even more important. Detoxification and pH balancing is a daily need for you.

This time, the gardening lesson for diabetics is about using 5 gallon, food-grade plastic buckets OR Rubber maid 18 gallon storage totes, which are made from food-grade plastic. Do not use other totes, buckets etc. which are not known to be food-grade.

Also, please be aware of the danger posed to small children by deep buckets and totes and make sure that water reservoirs are unable to be accessed by children. 5 gallon buckets are required to carry drowning hazard labels — if yours is a used bucket, the label may be damaged or removed, but children have tragically drowned even when people are washing their cars with buckets. Just remember how curious small children are! This is a silent, senseless death. Be watchful and eliminate the risk while you are putting your containers together!

Here are some diagrams of the equipment and the process, and then written input follows. Use this strategy to eat organic food, which you have farmed, saving our planet with less use of gasoline to haul your food an average of 1,400 miles to your table. Be concerned for you and our planet, please. Double-click on the photos; this usually enlarges them.


Everything used inside the bucket needs to be food-grade plastic, too. See my past posts in this series for the explanation of what that means and where to find it. Links are below.

In the middle photo, the large hole in the perforated, trimmed bucket lid is to insert a perforated yogurt container, perforated large water bottle bottom section or “net pot” (which is a perforated plastic basket in various sizes, purchased from a hydroponic supply store). Without this internal barrier lid platform, you need the over-turned plastic colander technique described below.

Either of these internal barrier systems prevent wasting a second bucket for the top-tier plant section, as many Internet sites have you waste in their designs. You would only need a full 2 bucket system for deeply rooted large plants, if ever.

Any of these smaller perforated containers let the roots actually grow down into the solution (or just water, if soil mix is above), over time. Meanwhile, the water or nutrient solution is brought up to the soil mix or “medium” of choice’s interface via the fact that the little pot extends to the bottom of the bucket, wicking up the moisture into the rest of the soil above.

Popular “mediums” for soiless growing (and then you must use real hydroponic nutrient solutions) would be made from: washed pea gravel, perlite, rockwool or coconut coir or a combo of these. The “medium” supports the plant, but heavy, large plants may still need to be “caged”, “staked” or tied to a trellis or deck railing.

Note: vermiculite is a forerunner of natural asbestos, so it is not recommended as a medium or in anything else.

As you can see from Gymgirl’s garden in photo 3,  she sometimes punctures the bucket lid to insert the plant; sometimes leaves the lid off completely (then the lid may have been used as the perforated divider between soil mix and water reservoir (as in photo 2). And other gardeners cover the soil (with hole for plant) and also the sides of bucket with a black plastic bag.

This “bag” technique is in order to save the bucket plastic from degrading from sun exposure. The plant’s leaves are NOT covered by the bag.

In winter the bag also warms the bucket’s soil, as black absorbs heat, for a winter garden.  Use a white plastic bag in summer when weather is hot, to lessen heat gain; the plastic bag also helps retain water in summer as it prevents fast evaporation from the soil (the lid, with a hole per plant,  would do this, too).

The containers in the illustrations above all use potting mix (made for containers). Do not use regular soil or “potting soil”.

The reservoir barriers can be made from the punctured, trimmed bucket lids or as I prefer, from food-grade 6″ or 7″ plastic colanders turned upside-down and trimmed to fit the BOTTOM of the bucket.

You will cut off the colander handles and snip the rim in a few places with cuts heading toward the center. This lets the colander flex as you put it into the bucket. The colander must rest on the floor of the bucket with it oriented as a dome.

The perforated barrier lets you use either medium or potting mix to anchor the plant.

You can make it longer between waterings if you also include an external reservoir. See photo 1 diagram. Buckets can also be linked together with tubing and then all you need to do is fill the external reservoir. But the system still needs watching and you need to make sure the height relationships allow for the siphon action to work in all the tubing. Use black fish aquarium tubing as the safest choice.

In a totally hydroponic solution system, without soil, use the top of the 5 gallon bucket to have holes and net pots or perforated large yogurt containers, with a plant and medium.

As mature plants, the roots need to dip in the nutrient solution by at least 1 inch. At all stages of growth, the solution needs to be changed every 2 weeks.

The number of holes in the 5 gallon bucket lid or draped plastic bag depends on which plants you are growing and how many per area. For guidelines, please see the EarthBox site.

This means that sometimes, in future seasons,  not all the lid holes will be used. Make sure to securely cover all unused holes and the fill tube top with shade cloth, fiberglass screen or a piece of panty hose to prevent access by mosquitoes to lay eggs!

The sides of the 5 gallon bucket can also be cut to make a strawberry pot. See the link to the article, below.

In the protected colander dome (filled with soil mix or medium) or area below the perforated lid (with inserted yogurt container filled with soil mix or medium), the water reservoir meets the potting mix or medium above it and around it. This is how the bucket becomes self-watering, through osmosis.

A third watering system option is in 5 gallon buckets, the water or nutrient reservoirs can also be made from 4 side punctured clean juice bottles or milk cartons, lying on the bucket floor and connected by drinking straw sections, to the first jug which receives the  fill-pipe,  instead of using the colander. Soil or medium tucks around the perforated bottles.

In these illustrations, you should note that they used PVC pipe for the fill tube. This is NOT food-grade! Do not use PVC, some versions of which contain lead in the recipe.

Instead, use water bottles in a column as a fill-tube – either cut the bottom and top off  and fit together OR puncture the base (to insert the next, open, uncut bottle). Use these connected in series of PET / PETE clear, #1 (recycling code) 1 liter or 2 liter water bottles. The lowest bottle must have base cut off on an angle to let water come easily into the reservoir space.

Also, the fill tubes do not need to be this high above the soil, as in Gymgirl’s example. Note, look at photo 6 and see the placement that at the divider between soil and water reservoir, there is an “overflow” hole drilled and a cut-off drinking straw will help to keep it open. Double-click on the photo to see it larger.

The “overflow hole” can drain into a protected reservoir, as in the illustration above. Then disconnect and repour liquid when needed, this will also help capture rain water, to use later, rather than sit there and water-log your plants. To do this, the 5 gallon bucket has to be raised to help create the siphon effect. See the illustration.

You can also include a float stick in each bucket’s fill-tube to indicate fluid level there. It is critical to know what’s happening in the reservoir so you know when to add liquid! These should be available at a hydroponic supply.

These individual buckets can also be set-up to be watered in series, using aquarium tubing, from bucket-to-bucket, with a larger external reservoir and pump, too. You’ll find information on the Internet as to how to set it up, but I have tried to stay with the simplest system!

Barring adverse weather or you forgetting to keep the reservoir filled, you should get a fabulous return for your effort. These types of container gardens are far more efficient, and can bring in amazing amounts of food.

As a diabetic, I recommend that you always wear gardening gloves and proper shoes when outside. Diabetes tends to compromise skin and especially for feet, this can become serious, often resulting in impossible-to-cure infections, which require amputation. Sandals are not appropriate shoes.

As an example of what to add to the standard container potting mix – if you use the soil method – here is a recipe. The potting mix / perlite should last 5 to 6 seasons, but the nutrients will need to be added each season.

TO potting MIX only (not potting soil – which can still contain rocks – and not garden dirt), add:

___   Perlite to Potting Mix in a ratio of 60% potting mix to 40% perlite. Then add the items below.

___   2 cups fertilizer, any three numbers between 10 and 15. Most people use 10-10-10, but 14-14-14 is also possible.  Pour in a strip farthest away from your seedlings, so as to not burn any roots. See the Earthbox website for pictures of where to place your fertilizer strip depending on the organization and number of plants per container. Their diagrams are very clear.

___   2 cups  Dolomite Lime Pellets, mixed into the top 4-6 inches of your potting mix. Powdered lime turns into a concrete slab or rocks if it’s not mixed in well

___   2 tbsps. Epsom salts mixed in with the Lime, if you are growing tomatoes.

By gardening with potting mix or hydroponically, diabetics can garden more safely. And, the buckets can be raised so even those in wheelchairs can still garden and harvest the great foods they need in their diabetic diet plan. See photo 5 of the handicap accessible garden, above.

With the 5 gallon food-grade buckets, you can garden anywhere: on rooftops, balcony, concrete patio, deck, attached to fences etc. I hesitate to say “driveway” because there is still chemicals exuded from car exhaust and gasoline excreta, but people do garden on and near their driveways. I do not recommend doing so.

You may see hydroponic systems on the Internet using roof gutters or long sections of PVC plumbing pipe as hydroponic trays. Neither are food-grade plastic! I do not recommend them.

Other pre-made systems, like the EarthBox, use “recycled” plastic. You need to confirm what kind and if it is still designated as “food-grade”, if it ever was.

Many systems depicted on the Internet also use styrofoam as a barrier and place to insert perforated net pots. This is a styrene product and has been associated with cancer-causing chemicals, even though it has still been allowed near food. This needs to change, and you can do it for yourself; don’t wait for Government to ban its use next to food. We already know there’s a problem!


strawberry 5 gallon bucket planter. Be sure to use day-neutral, everbearing plants.

University of Maryland Master Gardeners 5 gallon bucket PDF, excellent

Rubbermaid Tote with Food Container Reservoirs

Green Rooftop Growers

More About Plastics and Hazards

Earthbox – More Growing Instructions for Containers

Diabetics Need to Garden, Part 1
Diabetics Need to Garden, Part 2
Diabetics Need to Garden, Part 3

Hydroponics with Safer Plastics Part 4A
Soda Bottle SIP Gardening Part 4B
Glass Wine Bottle Hydroponic Gardening Part 4C

Please share this article on your favorite Web 2.0 social site.
Learn more at the Title Archive tab — there’s 3 years of information on all kinds of ways to help diabetics!

(c)2010 Em at https://diabetesdietdialogue.wordpress.com

Please respect my copyright. If you desire to quote more than 2 short paragraphs of this article, please write for permission at the About Me tab, on the upper navigation bar, above. Thanks.

Read Full Post »

“Everyone Knows Someone Who Needs This Information!” (TM)

As the world’s fresh, potable water supplies reach critical levels, and as food prices continue to rise at record levels, everyone will be in dire straits, but especially diabetics.

It will not be just the financial push of having to find a way of paying these bills, but adding the costs of buying any diabetic medications and treatments that you require. Also, diabetics are famously thirsty, and pure water IS needed to flush YOUR system. Anything you can do to have access to enough clean, safe potable water and organic food is important to learn about.

That’s what I am doing with this series. This information is to encourage you to seek new solutions, literally.

I am continuing the discussion about SIPs. These are “sub-irrigated planters”. That is, they are planting containers, of food grade plastics (only) or recycled glass, which contain either potting soil and water reservoirs OR have “growth mediums” and nutrient solutions (a more official form of Hydroponics).

Last time, I shared how to make a small SIP from a 1 liter or 2 liter water bottle (recycle number on the bottom should only be #1 plastic i.e. PET or PETE).

This time, there will be photos of how another site suggests cutting used brown or green wine bottles (retrieved in quantity from restaurants, by prior arrangement) and then carefully and responsibly cut and smoothed into glass SIPs for seedlings and / or for a herb garden.

You can see those photos at: Making Glass Planters From Recycled Glass Wine Bottles.

In reading about this on the Internet, comments said that depending on the plants grown, you may need to reduce the length of the bottle neck or remove it completely, as the root mass must be able to move easily into the liquid below without being squashed or compacted by too small a space. The edge of the wider part of the bottle should be able to support the upper cut-off section.

In the glass SIPs which use soil, you will need a piece of landscape fabric or fiberglass screen to lay at the round opening to the neck. As the plants grow, their roots will go through the screen holes, so make sure that it is not too fine mesh.

Until the roots are long enough to reach the liquid on their own, knot the cotton string into the fiberglass screen and then dangle it into the liquid; this will act as a wick bringing moisture to the soil above.

If you use an official nutritive mix, then the protocol is different. First, the plant is not in soil; anchor it in rockwool cubes with a wick hanging into the solution or use one of the following with a wick hanging down into the liquid. Other anchors are: perlite, vermiculite, washed pea gravel, or one of a number of ceramic balls and beads.

The bottles’ lower sections need to be dark and opaque, in this process with real hydroponic food solution. So, cover the bottle bottoms with a strip of black plastic trash bag, cut to size. Make sure you hold onto the bottle well, as you move it; this strip will make it more slippery. It is necessary as light will stimulate the growth of algae in the nutritive solution.

You could also use matching-sized top section of clear PET #1 food-grade water bottles to have a a removable topper. This will be great for starting seedlings as it will make it’s own greenhouse. Be sure not to put this in a sunny window, without watching that the OPEN plastic bottle neck is able to remove enough heat before your plants “fry”. Otherwise, remove it to a bright, but not hot, area.

Using those food-grade PET / PETE bottles constructed the same way as described above for glass, means that you can have a lighter-weight, 1-2 year growing system.

This can even become part of a recycling effort in your community to make a community garden. This activism needs to start being put in place, not just in third world countries, but in the suburban yards and shared spaces of industrialized nations, too (even on fences across vacant lots).

This is a way to start using the plastics which otherwise end up in landfills (PET / PETE is the most-recycled plastic and people are still only recycling 25% of what is made!). This system, as long as it is not left in hot sun for long periods, helps feed anyone who walks by, if watering needs are addressed by the community. Many offices could recycle water bottles for this purpose.

Too much heat exposure even removes some hormone disruptors, like antimony and di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, which are in PET. Glass is always safer than even “food-grade” plastic, period.

Don’t even consider the majority of other plastics, as they are usually not food-grade. Often PVC pipe contains lead.  (Read my explanations in previous parts of the series.)

Gathering and recycling 1,500 PET / PETE water bottles lets you build your own real greenhouse. See the PDF plans at: Build Your Recycled Bottles 6x8x6 Foot Greenhouse.

Gather the bottles from your community and meet your neighbors to make more of these to benefit schools, senior centers, churches, food banks and individuals.

The goal is to ensure people have ready access to prolific amounts of low glycemic and alkaline vegetables in order to regain and maintain their health.

Diabetics and children especially need this healthy food as the basis of every meal (at least 70% vegetables on the plate, as salad or lightly steamed). This is also the best way to curb the plague of obesity … which is beginning to be called Globesity … and to prevent pre-diabetes.

Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics benefit from large amounts of fresh, low glycemic index, pH alkaline vegetables.

See the photos below as a permanent record of some of these projects, in case the original sites remove the articles.

Seriously include children and grandchildren in growing foods. These food skills are for survival and have nearly disappeared in two short generations!

This is fundamental and needed knowledge for every generation. Learn more: Help Kids Learn Gardening!. Don’t leave them at the mercy of Big Agriculture – those corporations rarely act responsibly for the land and their products are usually not grown organically or in harmony with Mother Earth.

Read more in the Titles Archive, on the upper navigation bar.

Please help spread this article to your favorite Web 2.0 community site. Thanks.

America’s Freshwater Crisis
America’s 10 Thirstiest Cities Some of these will shock you!
Starting Seeds Hydroponically in Rockwool

(c)2010 Em at https://diabetesdietdialogue.wordpress.com

Please respect my copyright. If you desire to use more than 2 short paragraphs from my article, please write for permission at the About Me tab, above. Thanks!

Read Full Post »