Container Gardening Soil Test

plant pot with plant nutrientsNot always relevant as you may be getting soil from a garden centre at the same time you could be out in the back of nowhere or wanting to use your own soil. Identifying your soil types and the types of plants/crops they can be used for will improve your chance of good yields. At the same time doing a bit of research also means you can adapt the soil to the purpose of the types of plants you want to grow by adding in whatever nutrients the soil could do with being added if any.

Testing soil is necessary and easy to do, doing it at the beginning also means you can adapt it quickly without plant disruption and more importantly won’t suffer with failed plants due to the wrong type of soil used for them. This is why soil testing is the first step in your container garden and you will need to know that it has the right nutrients for certain plants to flourish.

This is also a good way to monitor your soil for its nutrients, the soil will need Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium to continue providing healthy plants. Where possible take the test at the end or a few months before the growing season (plan to plant) to correct the soil problems. Also just as important the soil should be dry as false results could be given otherwise.

There are various test kits available and some are easier to use than others. I would advise checking reviews on places like Amazon to see how other people found them. Some kits are also designated to only test specific nutrients.

 Now as this is a container garden and not a general household garden or field I would say try and select soil from areas that you know have good nutrients already  (as obviously you don’t want to be repairing an entire field with nutrients when your only needing your container soil improved).

Grab a bucket and a shovel and head to where your looking to select your soil from. Dig around 7” deep with 6 holes and take a shovel of dirt from each hole dug. When dug mix the samples together and remove 2 cups from your test sample.

Then read the guidelines given to you by the test kit purchased.

Soil test completed you are no doubt going to have some results at the same time going to be looking at transferring your soil to containers. The problems your likely to face are below, some of them it would be easier to select soil elsewhere but pretty much everything can be dealt with.

  • High PH: Mix some sulpher into the soil.

  • Low PH: Mix some lime into the soil.

  • Low Nitrogen: Mix nitrogen rich fertilizers into the soil.

  • High Nitrogen: Water well, and avoid adding fertilizers for three to six months.

  • Low Phosphorus: Mix super phosphate and bone meal into gardening area.

  • High Phosphorus: By growing more plants will aid in absorbing extra phosphorus

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Now there is also the chance of the figures being out simply because there are other layers of soil below the sample level that could have affected the results. If using the field these are relevant but as we are taking the soil away for planting they won’t be causing anymore disruption in future but will also be a reason why you monitor the soil on a regular basis to get its levels right.

Amazon’s modular data centre’s

amazon modular data centre

Amazon web services doesn’t really openly discuss its datacentre’s and infrastructure for their web presence. With cloud computing currently being one of the biggest developments on the web to date its also something that relies heavily on data centre’s to make it viable.

Engineer James Hamilton produced this presentation at an open house conference showing how the company utilizes modular technology for its data centre.

You can see it here

How to insulate a shipping container home

Its probably one of the biggest issues facing container homes as well as the reason many people get put off from building a shipping container home. In reality though there are several options open to people and they don’t all involve specialist equipment.

The best insulation comes from a foam spray currently that can be added externally or internally. Generally I would advise externally as it saves wasting space on the inside of the structure. At the same time the foam spray doesn’t leave spaces for vapour build up which could cause rust or rot long term.

There are DIY kits as shown in the one I added from Amazon personally I advise getting a company in or looking at hiring the industrial equipment especially if doing the entire container also remember to get safety gear as this stuff is extremely sticky and another good reason to get a professional in is insurance.

The next method is using things like glass fibre or injected insulation in between cavities internally or externally. First issue is that it doesn’t seal 100% and if vermin find their way in they can nest inside the walls. It also doesn’t carry the same insulation properties as the foam with a much lower rating currently although like most things in the industry everyone is pushing for better quality and standards so that could change. Also looking at alternative methods there are many other things that can be used on the same principles but I advise a bit of time and research on any insulation methods as every salesman doesn’t give you the negatives just the sales pitch. For me I would go with the batten method with many projects purely down to low cost and also ease of installation.

Specialised insulation or heat reflective paints are still in the early days but do work to some degree can’t really rate them myself as I have yet to find some here in the Philippines but do know the industry says their great while other people are a bit more skeptical so would need some feedback on these types of methods as simply it needs “proof in the pudding” rather than industry fed information

The other method which is my favorite but not always easily available is natural cooling which can be as simple as placing the shipping container home in a shaded area, building a trellis on the side that gains the most sun and growing plants that will cover the trellis. Or raising the building off the ground to allow natural heating and cooling due to using the elements to assist. During the day air travels under the home at the same time the sun heats the exposed ground area which at night naturally can heat the home. Adding into the mix air ducts to naturally force cool air through the home with no running costs or adding a secondary angled roof to use as shade as well as rainwater harvesting are all alternatives. One I thought of while visiting someone’s farm recently with spring water everywhere is running natural water flow under or over a building to cool the building from the water supply while using the same feed to the fish ponds so that the water isn’t wasted.

Jewelry wall mirror cabinet with lock ideal for shipping container furniture

Jewelery cabinet full length mirror

This mirror is another item that can be built into the wall of the shipping container as well as the ability to hide the locking mechanism by adding a few bits to the front of the mirror which would then make the mirror look “flush” and not the fact it keeps your jewelry secure. On the other hand it also stops jewelry getting all tangled up which often happens in a jewelry box. I have added a link to Amazon below for those interested in purchasing one but depending where you are I don’t think it would be difficult to build one with the main expense likely to be the glass not the actual cabinet.