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General discussion regarding the techniques and methods used to successfully grow tomato plants in containers.

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Old September 18, 2013   #16
rnewste
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The 3 videos are from the (obsolete) EarthTainer 1 design and are still posted for general reference only. Be sure to follow the latest EarthTainer 3.8 design written instructions posted above.

Give me a shout if you need help in cutting / assembling your EarthTainers over the Winter.

Raybo

Last edited by rnewste; September 18, 2013 at 08:16 PM.
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Old September 24, 2013   #17
Winemaker
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I didn't see any info on the following years. Do you store the Earthtainers with Mix in them over winter? Do you take the mix out and re-wet everything when you startup in the spring? It would seem everything would dry out and essentially need restarting. Can I assume the mix can be reused? This is probably covered in an older thread that I haven't found.
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Old April 11, 2014   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Winemaker View Post
I didn't see any info on the following years. Do you store the Earthtainers with Mix in them over winter? Do you take the mix out and re-wet everything when you startup in the spring? It would seem everything would dry out and essentially need restarting. Can I assume the mix can be reused? This is probably covered in an older thread that I haven't found.
Hi Winemaker. Your answer can be found on page 17 of Ray's PDF under End of Season Maintenance. Here it is:

End of Season Maintenance

Stop filling the water reservoir when the plant starts to die off. A few weeks later,remove the dead plant vines, then remove the cage system and fold. Secure with 2 zip ties. Store inside garage or shed.

Lift off the lid and remove moisture barrier. With a shovel or scoop dig in all around the plant about 5" out from the stem. Grab the stem and lift out the root ball. With both tomato plants, you should be removing approximately 1 cubic foot of old Grow Media. Before it freezes, tilt the 'Tainer at a steep angle to drain as much of the water out of the reservoir overflow hole as possible. Then put the moisture barrier back on and secure it in place with the lid. Cover up with a large trash bag or tarp for Winter storage.

Hope this helps!
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Old April 11, 2014   #19
nolabelle
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My question about EarthTainers involves the filling process; namely Step 5.

Step 5: When you have filled the EarthTainer to within 4” from the top, for tomatoes sprinkle 3 cups of Dolomite Lime on the surface area (use 2 cups for other vegetables). Trowel in thoroughly. Continue to fill with the Grow Media combo. Water-in at each stage. Add in 1/4 cup of E.B. Stone Sure Start fertilizer, or equivalent such as Espoma BioTone when filling the final top layer, and trowel in thoroughly.

Could the lime be mixed when initially preparing the growing media?

5 scoops of grow media
1 scoop of Perlite (2 scoops if using Miracle Grow Potting Mix)
??? cups/scoops of lime???

The reason I ask is because I plan to try the 2-bucket self watering container method for a couple of tomato plants. The ratio would not be the same because of using less grow media in the container.
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Old December 10, 2014   #20
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I love the Earthtainer, and I think it's a great method of growing. However, I find the method of making them to be laborious and (honestly no offense intended) a bit wasteful.

Just curious - why don't more people use single container methods? There is a guy out there called "Albo" who makes his with corrugated drain pipe. (the slotted kind) Instead of 2 containers, he just buries them at the bottom like a septic field. I have made many in this manner, with the ends capped of with regular old non-metal window screen, and something to tie in-between corrugations. (to keep the screen from slipping off)

Larger containers can be made from 55 gallon poly drums, with the top 1/3 cut off, slitted in the side, and pressed down into the bottom 2/3 of the drum, or the drums can be cut in half, and the corrugated drain pipe coiled in the bottom.

I'm going to post a link here to Albo's site. If it's inappropriate, feel free to remove it. But I will attest to the fact that this method works VERY well, with less waste, and less cost.

http://albopepper.com/30-gallon-tote.php

Making a 5 gallon SIP is limited only by your imagination. I made one the other day using solo cups and the lid from a plastic lettuce box (all recycled) as the reservoir.
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Old December 11, 2014   #21
Dewayne mater
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To each his own, but I've found earthtainers to be simple enough to build after the first one, extremely durable, portable (a huge deal to me early and late to protect from frost) and with instructions simple enough for a non handy person like me to follow. What seems to be missing from the pepper tote boxes is cages. If they work anywhere nearly as effectively as earthtainers, they will need cages for peppers and very large and sturdy cages for tomatoes. A healthy pepper plant is going to get at least 4 feet tall in good growing conditions and indeterminate tomatoes will be greater than 7 feet tall. So, these may work for some, but for me portability and a reliable cage system are essential and these pepper containers come up short for my tomato growing purposes. Good luck.

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Old December 11, 2014   #22
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Sure, but the cage system is a more open subject. The Earthtainer cages can be adapted. Heck, you could even use the same totes, where that's concerned. My bigger point was the difficulty of build. For a one-off, no problem. But I tend to build multiples of everything. The Earthtainer is very labor intensive, relatively speaking. (not relative to a poured concrete raised bed, but in relation to the Albo tote)

No disrespect was intended to Mr. Newstead. If anything, I'm just asking to help streamline the process, and make the process easier, and more popular. This is hands down one of the best growing systems that I've ever used. After establishing that, tweaking it to make it even more optimal should be the most logical thing.

FWIW - I use regular cages staked right into the box, itself. You can tie them together, either standing next to one another, or if you need more room between plants, lay a piece of PVC across the rungs of 2 cages, and "X" tie them with zip ties, for extra horizonal bracing. For what that's worth, a really strong system, is a circle of grow boxes with cages tied together like this, if you've got the room for it.

All of my questions and suggestions are meant to be constructive. If there's a good reason for doing something, I'm good with that. If there's a better way, then I'm all for it.
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Old December 11, 2014   #23
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I am assuming that the drain tube in the Albo version is inserted approximately 3" from the bottom since the tubes are 4" wide, and would leave 1" of air space between the water and tops of the tubes. Is this correct?

Also, for what it's worth, I've circled entire planters with standard 8' wire standing on the ground. The wire can be removed if necessary to move the planter, etc. I tend to circle the entire thing to keep my dogs from eating the dirt.
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Old December 11, 2014   #24
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Originally Posted by nolabelle View Post
I am assuming that the drain tube in the Albo version is inserted approximately 3" from the bottom since the tubes are 4" wide, and would leave 1" of air space between the water and tops of the tubes. Is this correct?
That would be correct.

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Originally Posted by nolabelle View Post
Also, for what it's worth, I've circled entire planters with standard 8' wire standing on the ground. The wire can be removed if necessary to move the planter, etc. I tend to circle the entire thing to keep my dogs from eating the dirt.
That's a good method. I think whatever works well, is all fine and good. Even though the ET method is a lot of work, I won't be too harsh. For people with a lack of room - especially balcony growers - it's a very good option. I just like to offer variety for those who don't mind going a little "lower tech".

One can do all sorts of methods. Even using a FLorida weave across an entire row of boxes. Limitless staking and caging possibilities.
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Old December 11, 2014   #25
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There is actually very little scrap in building the Rev. 3.9 design (a 1 inch wide belt from the inner container is all that is recycled). The purpose of the second inner container is to funtion as a "double-wall" to provide a thermal barrier from the Sun's warming of the outer container, intended to keep the temperature of the potting mix at a lower level.

Yes, the EarthTainer design costs more to build than some of the cheaper Internet versions - but I published it as a fully integrated, field tested design with cage system that works well and has the durability to last for many Seasons.

Ray Newstead
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Old December 11, 2014   #26
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Thank you, Ray. One of the reasons I first came to this site was to get a better understanding of the basic principles of how your EarthTainers were built and why they worked. It has been great to observe their progression through countless experiments using what you learned to make it easier to build, use, and increasing their ability to conserve resources. Thanks again Ray.


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Old December 11, 2014   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rnewste View Post
There is actually very little scrap in building the Rev. 3.9 design (a 1 inch wide belt from the inner container is all that is recycled). The purpose of the second inner container is to funtion as a "double-wall" to provide a thermal barrier from the Sun's warming of the outer container, intended to keep the temperature of the potting mix at a lower level.

Yes, the EarthTainer design costs more to build than some of the cheaper Internet versions - but I published it as a fully integrated, field tested design with cage system that works well and has the durability to last for many Seasons.

Ray Newstead
Ray - Your continued efforts to improve and demonstrate construction of the Earthtainer over many years is one of the reasons you are so popular and respected here and on similar sites. That, and of course the free yellow pear seeds we all got for painting your house
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Old December 11, 2014   #28
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Ray - Your continued efforts to improve and demonstrate construction of the Earthtainer over many years is one of the reasons you are so popular and respected here and on similar sites. That, and of course the free yellow pear seeds we all got for painting your house
Thanks Linda,

The EarthTainer design was published as "Freeware" and I encourage folks to modify/adapt its principles to their own situation.

As the Free Yellow Pear Seeds / house painting offer was under-subscribed last year, I will repeat the offer this Spring when it stops raining here in San Jose (happy problem)

Raybo
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Old December 11, 2014   #29
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Stay dry! Getting ready for the storm here, hitting late tonight early AM. We surely need the rain but I hope everybody is safe and no property damage.
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Old March 29, 2015   #30
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I just built a pair of Earthtainers and have one filled with media already. For this [new to me] process, I filled the first container with ProMix HP which I found at Home Depot. Is ProMix HP ok use by itself? Or should I be cutting this with perlite, bark, etc?
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