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Author Topic: Troughs  (Read 185327 times)

cohan

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Re: Troughs
« Reply #30 on: July 02, 2009, 06:09:00 AM »
rudi--beautiful design in those troughs..

lori--i think i've asked about this before, elsewhere, but i'm still struggling with the ins and outs of this in climates like ours---the troughs you are showing here look pretty thick walled--do you find this important?

when i was asking about troughs before, i got rather vague information on the relevance of size/wall thickness, but now after 1 winter and 2 out of 3 sempervivum dead(typically hardy here, but new plants for me), i'm extra cautious/hesitant..
they were not in a real trough, but a large pot, about 14inches square, partly filled with styrofoam to make it lighter (i didnt succeed) but still a lot of soil, as i wanted to give a reasonable volume for slower freeze/thaw; it was covered with fairly deep snow for most of the winter, and still those poor results!

so now, i hesitate to put anything in troughs/pots apart from smaller pots that will be buried for winter...

other possible issues: --an unusually wet summer may have left the plants 'softer'?
--the planting was done late by local standards, in early august, with only a few good weeks for growing before chilly nights started, and the plants started to close up...

Lori S.

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Re: Troughs
« Reply #31 on: July 02, 2009, 06:48:24 AM »
Cohan, all of our troughs have the same wall thickness, so I can't really comment on that.  However, I do think there is a minimum trough/soil volume or mass that is probably important to minimize temperature fluctuations and the effect it has on the plants' root systems.   (Of course, there will still be those temperature fluctuations, but somehow plants can take it.)  I suspect a smallish pot, thin-walled (I presume, and so not adding much mass), especially if partially filled with something other than soil (styrofoam) might be crossing the limit.  (Very tough plants sometimes survive here in smallish pots, unprotected, over the winter... not a sure bet, though.)

My husband made all of our troughs, starting from an example/pattern that he knew worked (from another local trough-grower).  The last trough-building spree was in 2006 (resulting in 16 troughs total), and he used the same rough pattern again.  
The dimensions are:
Square troughs: 22 cm high, 45 cm square (outside dimension), 5 cm thick walls
Rectangular troughs: 22 cm high, 38 cm x 76 cm (outside dimension), 5 cm thick walls

So, they do work.  I admit I do fail to overwinter some plants in them but other plants have been very long-lived (e.g. 12 years now)... some of the fatalities may be due to plants that are simply not hardy here (I experiment a lot), or bad choices of plants for the conditions leading to inability to winter over, somehow (???).   They get no protection over the winter; some of the snow from the driveway (which is usually not much, and melts quickly) gets chucked on top of them (since most of the troughs line the driveway), and that's it.  

Something I am sort of experimenting with is whether setting the troughs up on blocks (also made of hypertufa) affects hardiness of the plants within... I'm wondering if that is pushing the limits, or not.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2009, 06:53:13 AM by Lori Skulski »
Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

cohan

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Re: Troughs
« Reply #32 on: July 02, 2009, 07:23:20 AM »
Cohan, all of our troughs have the same wall thickness, so I can't really comment on that.  However, I do think there is a minimum trough/soil volume or mass that is probably important to minimize temperature fluctuations and the effect it has on the plants' root systems.   (Of course, there will still be those temperature fluctuations, but somehow plants can take it.)  I suspect a smallish pot, thin-walled (I presume, and so not adding much mass), especially if partially filled with something other than soil (styrofoam) might be crossing the limit.  (Very tough plants sometimes survive here in smallish pots, unprotected, over the winter... not a sure bet, though.)

My husband made all of our troughs, starting from an example/pattern that he knew worked (from another local trough-grower).  The last trough-building spree was in 2006 (resulting in 16 troughs total), and he used the same rough pattern again.  
The dimensions are:
Square troughs: 22 cm high, 45 cm square (outside dimension), 5 cm thick walls
Rectangular troughs: 22 cm high, 38 cm x 76 cm (outside dimension), 5 cm thick walls

So, they do work.  I admit I do fail to overwinter some plants in them but other plants have been very long-lived (e.g. 12 years now)... some of the fatalities may be due to plants that are simply not hardy here (I experiment a lot), or bad choices of plants for the conditions leading to inability to winter over, somehow (???).   They get no protection over the winter; some of the snow from the driveway (which is usually not much, and melts quickly) gets chucked on top of them (since most of the troughs line the driveway), and that's it.  

Something I am sort of experimenting with is whether setting the troughs up on blocks (also made of hypertufa) affects hardiness of the plants within... I'm wondering if that is pushing the limits, or not.

thanks for the input, lori...
interesting, i would have thought the styrofoam would have ADDED  insulation value, but you see it is as just reducing mass?..any more soil, and this pot would definitely be a permanent installation, moving it now would be a major effort; i guess the question is: when does a trough become a raised bed? obviously, its a continuum, i guess yours are permanent installations, never to be moved?
i know these pots are not gigantic, and definitely thin walled, but at 14inches /35cm in all directions, they seem larger than many/most of the troughs i see pictures of..again, any larger, and really it would be almost raised beds....but maybe thats what i need in this climate..

Lori S.

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Re: Troughs
« Reply #33 on: July 02, 2009, 03:25:47 PM »
Our troughs are moveable... though made of hypertufa (less heavy than other cement mixes or stone), they are still very heavy, however.
Perhaps your problem was, at least in part, drainage?  The troughs have drainage holes in the bottom (covered with screen), and are filled with a very fast-draining grit mix.
Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

cohan

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Re: Troughs
« Reply #34 on: July 03, 2009, 01:18:19 AM »
Our troughs are moveable... though made of hypertufa (less heavy than other cement mixes or stone), they are still very heavy, however.
Perhaps your problem was, at least in part, drainage?  The troughs have drainage holes in the bottom (covered with screen), and are filled with a very fast-draining grit mix.

yeah, my pot would be movable, wouldnt need a construction crane, but not something you'd undertake lightly...lol
by movable, i guess i mean something you could move aside to mow, for example, without wanting to put a support belt on ;)
this is a commercial pot, so had drainage in the bottom, and i made some extra holes in bottom and lower sides...
the soil is a mix of local clayey loam with some coir, road gravel, chicken grit and zeolite around the plants...not the lightest soil by any stretch, but water does not sit at all, and certainly lighter than what i have grown semps in in the ground--pure clayey loam....
i'll probably just have to experiment with the same plants in various configurations before i can really draw any conclusions... meanwhile nothing valuable will be left exposed..

olegKon

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Re: Troughs
« Reply #35 on: July 05, 2009, 08:18:14 PM »
This is my first trough finished today following Ian's instructions in Bulblog 1, 2008. What is advisable: to plant it now or to wait until next year?
in Moscow

Lori S.

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Re: Troughs
« Reply #36 on: July 05, 2009, 08:25:52 PM »
Wow, it looks good!  I like the roughness and irregularity of it... very full of character. 

(We've planted ours up right after a long period of curing... during which the troughs were filled with water, which probably also removes/washes off some of the more reactive alkalinity.  But all I know is what we've done... not what one should do :))
Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

David Nicholson

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Re: Troughs
« Reply #37 on: July 05, 2009, 09:06:48 PM »
Very well done Oleg. After all that hard work it would be a pity to leave it empty!
David Nicholson
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Rodger Whitlock

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Re: Troughs
« Reply #38 on: July 05, 2009, 09:08:22 PM »
This is my first trough finished today following Ian's instructions in Bulblog 1, 2008. What is advisable: to plant it now or to wait until next year?

If there's a pond near you, put the trough in it and leave it for at least six weeks. The chemistry of concrete is very complex, but you can think of it as extremely slow reactions that require moisture to proceed to completion. If fresh concrete is kept damp once it has set, in the long run it will be much stronger.

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Lesley Cox

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Re: Troughs
« Reply #39 on: July 05, 2009, 09:35:05 PM »
Looks like a very attractive trough Oleg. I'll hope to see it planted later. :)
Lesley Cox - near Dunedin, lower east coast, South Island of New Zealand - Zone 9

Ian Y

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Re: Troughs
« Reply #40 on: July 05, 2009, 10:12:58 PM »
Good job Oleg, I under stand you want to plant it soon but I would wait about a month or six weeks.

By that time it should be fine to plant it up and also the plants will do better if they are not planted out in full summer.

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johnw

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Re: Troughs
« Reply #41 on: July 06, 2009, 12:55:37 AM »
Wow, Oleg it looks great. I love the hefty chiseled look, especially the big flattish chunk removed at the front.

Once it ages it will look like a 1,000 authentic one.

johnw
« Last Edit: July 06, 2009, 01:39:58 AM by johnw »
John in coastal Nova Scotia

Luc Gilgemyn

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Re: Troughs
« Reply #42 on: July 06, 2009, 08:23:21 AM »
Great work Oleg !!
It looks like it's a hundred years old !!  ;)
Luc Gilgemyn
Harelbeke - Belgium

Paddy Tobin

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Re: Troughs
« Reply #43 on: July 06, 2009, 10:02:27 AM »
Cohan,

I think Lori made two most important points re troughs - the compost must be really free draining, such that water poured from a watering can would run through it. I add loads of grit, to such an extent that the compost visually seems to have more grit than anything else. Secondly, the drainage holes must be good and large - no point in having good draining compost only for the water to lodge at the bottom of the trough.

Also, Lori mentioned putting the troughs up on some sort of support. I think this is essential. Not much point in having the good compost, good drainage holes but leaving the trough on the ground where the drainage holes could be blocked up. I place  my troughs on small building bricks. For some purchased troughs I used small pottery feet to raise them.

I'm not an enthusiast of using styrofoam in the mixture. This will have no value whatsoever for the plants. Granted the troughs are very heavy - it is important to place them where you want them before filling them even, perhaps, to construct them where or very near where you are going to place them. You can add to the drainage by building up stone, crevice style for instance, on top of the trough and then the plants will have a deeper root run and more compost under them.

Have fun.

Paddy
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Maggi Young

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Re: Troughs
« Reply #44 on: July 06, 2009, 11:46:45 AM »
Oleg, that is a great looking trough, superb job you have done there!  8)


Rodger, if the plants might suffer from the effects of fresh cement, would not the inhabitants of a pond suffer too if you dunked a trough in it??  :o
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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