|Seedlings sending their roots through|
|Sprouts in seed bed soil|
Last but not least, if you are going to use rice hulls, we have to talk about an old technique used by farmers plowing fields. Its called nitrogen lock up. Nitrogen is required to decompose organic matter. Many of us have the memory of the rows of turned sod in the fields in Autumn. Or a memory of that sweet scent of fresh manure spread over the field first. You remember, when the farmer did it right. Then the plow turns the old plant matter or grass under with the manure (nitrogen). The nitrogen decomposes the organic matter at a depth that will be available for the roots of the next crop when the plants want it. The top soil will have less nitrogen to accommodate seed germinating as well as seedling growth. For this same reason seed bed soil doesn’t contain fertilizer. You’ve probably heard the expression the fertilizer feeds the soil, the soil feeds the plants. What does this have to do with Rice Hulls?
|Magnified rice hulls|
That’s open for discussion. In the Vertical Eco Garden, the plant starts in a pocket without fertilizer. The rooting chamber with the rice hulls will have a little more nitrogen in the mix for the rice hulls to absorb (lock up) for decomposition. The decomposing rice hulls will be there for the later stages of growth extending the life of the potting soil. It’s like a natural time release plant food. If you were to do this in a box or bed garden, it would make sense to do this in the bottom layer. But take a look at these little rice hulls. That’s a perfect name for them because they look like little boat hulls. These decomposing inexpensive sustainable little boat hulls will provide water, air, microbial decomposition and will resist compacting.
|Decomposing boat hull|