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Growing local

The dreaded Slump - how do you allow for it?

You could say that I've got the hump because of the slump! Yeah I know, I'm not making any sense as usual, but bear with me. The Slump, is that annoying thing that occurs whenever we use organic materials to plant out something in a plant pot or above ground bed. It happens because all our friends in the mix (worms, fungi, bacteria, etc., get to work eating their breakfast, dinner, and lunch which reduces the mix  (along with settlement) to cause the mix to reduce. The result for growing veges is not a worry, we simply add some more mix to top up the pot or bed when the veges have been harvested. Usually only a relative short while.

I usually add some manure to the top and turn this over in the top layer of the container / bed to give the creatures more nourishment, and 'hey presto' the bed/pot is full again. 

The problem is more for the growing of trees, etc that are going to be a permanent fixture in the pot. etc, and in my case in the quite tall growing container, the wheelie bin. I have managed to get given and begged for and received quite a few of these and my main use of these is to grow avocados which need a deep soil, - something I don't have at my block. when they have needed more materials added, I have tried tipping them over, carefully pulling the tree towards the top and then shoving more materials under the plant, but this breaks some / a lot of roots and sets the tree back. I don't believe that adding materials to the top would work as this probably cause the bark to rot ( some trees might stand this but most wouldn't). My current idea is to grow some veges, e.g. tomatoes, pumpkins, etc in the container for a couple of years. I would then add materials after each vege season and after a couple of years fill the container right up to the top before planting out the tree.

Can anyone suggest a better way?

The bin here has an avocado seedling growing in it but has been set back by trying to tip it over. pull the tree upwards and inserting materials underneath.

The bin above has a black sapote seedling  (and volunteer ginger plant) in it. You can see how much slump has occurred, it was full two years ago.

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Comment by george s on April 23, 2017 at 10:29

O.K. you understand what the problem is.

Try to read up on Google    .... Al's gritty mix...... for the gritty part I use coal ash and/or pine bark.

For container trees read up on ...... Versaille planters.......  

Good luck

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on April 17, 2017 at 19:54

This is the constant bane of my raised beds too.  I've just been filling from the top - doesn't seem to have bothered my citrus (yet). 

Comment by Dianne Caswell on April 17, 2017 at 15:37

Graham says- Find a suitable horizontal tree branch that is strong enough to hang a pulley or chain block plus the weight of soil and tree from. As you need to get the Plant out of the bin, you will need to make up some kind of sling to go around a strong part of the Plant. This should allow you to lift the Plant up above the bin and put the soil in (might be good idea to buy some soil in). If too much soil falls off plants you may need to wrap the roots and ball as it comes out, maybe with an old bedsheet or the like.

Comment by Dianne Caswell on April 17, 2017 at 9:52

Some good advice here, love the idea of the hydraulic jack Christa. I use Elaine's suggestion, I fill from the top, so long as I stay well away from the bark/trunk and don't cover the graft, I am happy, I haven't had any problems with this method YET!!! Good Luck with what ever method you try.

Comment by Lissa on April 17, 2017 at 7:07

:) good luck

I buy Endeavour prize home tickets with the same aim.

Comment by Roger Clark on April 17, 2017 at 7:05

Yes Lissa I have tried that but while I believe it sets the tree back a lot as roots get broken in doing this, it may be the only way to successfully address the problem. The very best way would be to move to a site that has at least 5 metres of good growing soil and plant  the trees in the ground. I'm just off to buy a lotto ticket to set this in motion.

Comment by Lissa on April 17, 2017 at 5:27

Lay the bin on it's side, work the plant out that way - fill the bottom and slide the plant back in.

Comment by Lissa on April 17, 2017 at 5:25

I used to get my very tall, very strong son to lift the plant and it's root mass out of the pot and hold it in the air while I filled the bottom of the pot with more mix. Might be difficult to do with these deep bins. 

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on April 17, 2017 at 1:24

Whichever way you look at it Roger, it is one of the down-sides of wicking beds and perhaps pot culture in general. The other is being remote from the soil and having to bring in microbes and other flora/fauna. Not insurmountable but something to keep in mind when planning (I sound as if I have done planning! Ahem, mine are Topsy gardens).

In the days of plenty of young strapping gardeners, the owners of Orangeries could have the plants re-potted and moved inside for winter. In the absence of young strapping gardeners ... well we do the best we can.

Comment by Roger Clark on April 17, 2017 at 0:04


Yes it is worth a try to build up the soil from the top. I should do this with one of the seedling Avos that have been grown from seed, This way I'm not risking an expensive bought tree. If it all goes wrong I can rule that method out, but at least I will know that this isn't viable.


I like your idea using a jack, but yes how would I get the soil in there? As you say it would be a lot of trouble. If I put PVC pipe into the soil when I planted, right down to the false bottom, when I jacked up the false base, would the soil stay up when I then pushed the base back down using the PVC pipe?

If it did I could feed a wet mix down the pipe, but no, as you say there are too many hassles. If I was really keen I could cut the wheelie bin vertically and fix hinges to "open up and close" the bin to access inside. Sounds like a lot of trouble. 

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