Growing plants in a war zone. need some help


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Hi. I am a soldier in the U.S. Army currently deployed in Afghanistan. We don't have much to do here, so I figured I would grow plants. I have been getting our interpreter to get me Chili Peppers so I can gut the seeds out, germinate then plant them but I have one main issue.... Fertile Soil...

So there isn't any soil around here. Its all dusty dirt. I am guessing this dirt in our camp can support life due the the fact weeds find a way to grow in it... but I doubt anything worth growing would. We have farms outside of our camp that we patrol through but I did not want to just steal soil from the Afghans. So I am giving composting a shot..

So far I have filled up a 840 Cartridge, 5.56 MM Ammo Can with dirt. I soaked the dirt, then closed the can and stuck it under our building for a week. This dirt doesn't do a good job of letting water through it, so I took a stick and stirred I all. When that week passed, I began adding to the can. I added a bit too much coffee grounds (Because it has texture it turned the mud into clumps which I thought was awesome. I realized I added too much nitrogen, so I then added crumpled leaves, a handful of pine needles, and torn up paper towels (To equalize with Carbon). I then stirred it all up. This is a picture of my compost so far.

rnxpy.jpg



My question is, am I on the right track? Do I keep adding or mix up what I have? How long until I can start growing? I was reading somewhere I should keep it moist, mix daily for 1 week, then mix every other day for 2 weeks then I can start growing. What do you all think?
 
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Sunny nice to have some flowers from a soldier from this war ridden Country :)
I live in Peshawar,bordering city to Jalalabad,Afghanistan and have the idea of the soil you are talking about.As you mentioned you had farms near your camp,ask your interpreter and he will get you some organic manure.Cow dung is used in this part of world as a fuel and fertilizer to their fields.Nothing compares them as a natural fertilizer.
The above pics seems OK as a medium to grow plants.Grind it finely.I hope you have drilled some holes at the base of your container.
Afghans are flower loving people and i am sure you can get the flowering seeds otherwise one of the best grown flowers in that area are POPPY :) get some seeds !
 

Jed

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Fantastic that you are growing something out there to cheer the place up.
Going by the picture it would seem that it needs a fair amount of breaking down. Pine needles are very acidic. Can you find something akin to lawn clippings, that is finely chopped green grassy material. If you add this in layers it will produce heat to help with the breaking down. Layers of fresh animal manure would be also needed. Going by the size of your compost container you would need very little of each but I guess procuring the materials would be a challenge. Some kind of alkaline material such as wood ash could be used sparingly.
http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex3435

I googled up this site below and found it most interesting in how to propagate chilli peppers. The use of an Epsom salts spray for magnesium and also using matches for sulphur to encourage plant growth. Others may wish to try this out.
http://containergardening.wordpress...-in-containers-and-gardens-selfsufficientish/
 
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I bet if you asked you might even able to buy some soil from a local farmer. Let me know if you need seed or anything else.
 
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You can get the soil and animal free.If allowed,i could send you some seeds :)
 
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It might be that you can talk to the kitchen help, and get some things like banana peels, or fruit and veggie scraps, and then you can add that to your compost. Eggshells are great, ad add calcium. We compost about all scraps. Planting a fish in the dirt will also nourish the plants.
If weeds are growing in the soil, then probably some plants will grow also. Weeds are pretty hardy, but so are some plants, and if you can get some of the livestock manure to add in, that will help. Any kind of leaves will compost.
Put a little Epsom salts in the water now and then when you are watering the garden, and that will add minerals, as well.
 
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