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Old October 25, 2016   #16
BajaMitch
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Ricky Shaw, what and how much do you feed each bucketed plant?
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Old October 25, 2016   #17
Ricky Shaw
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I use what Mark does, he was the inspiration. ProMix HP and three part Chemgro 4-18-38, Cal, Mag



I mix in drums and hand water with an EC millisiemens of 1500-1600 seedlings and 1800-2000 mature plants. This mix was used at every watering and the plants were taking 1.5 to 2.5 gals of solution per day in prime stages, depending on temps.

The cooling evaporate effect of fabric pots is important, as well as the foil top covers. Four to six quarts of vermiculite was added as top dressing and that was a factor in helping retain moisture. I'm of the opinion that composts complicate the process and have avoided them.
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Old October 25, 2016   #18
tash11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrowingCoastal View Post

For moving heavy pots around the yard I use an old luggage carrier. It doesn't look strong enough but I have moved what I am sure is tons of dirt with it over the years using 5 gal buckets. One of the most useful things I have ever bought at a thrift shop. It takes little storage space and is lighter to use than a dolly.

That is awesome!

I have a lot of hills and on those hills lots of molehills. I don't know if that would work on my yard. If I see one for cheap at the thrift I might try it anyway though.


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Old October 25, 2016   #19
GrowingCoastal
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The ones with larger wheels work best.
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Old October 26, 2016   #20
BajaMitch
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Thanks, Ricky, for the info on the fertigation recipe that you use. I believe that AKMark uses a much higher concentration than the 1500 to 2000 millisiemens by about a plus 70%, though, but then again, he has many more hours of sunshine than we do.

I believe that the precise recipe that AKMark uses is based on the ratios of NPKCaMgS that Hydro-Gardens.com recommends for their tomato fertigation solutions. AKMark simply increases the concentration by another 70% or more.

Next season I will be using Chem-Gro's exact NPKCaMgS ratios using some alternate all water soluble ferts and some alternate slow release ferts in a 4.25 gallon Drip irrigation container and in a 3.5 gallon Self-Watering Container. My cost per container (grow media plus ferts) will range between $2.77 and $3.63 for the Drip irrigation containers and between $2.34 to $2.98 for the self-watering containers for an entire growing season.

FWIW, this season, after my last harvest, I started some new plants from cuttings off the old plants on September 1st using fertigation based on the Chem-Gro fert ratios for NPKCaMgS. I also selected two old plants and applied Chem-Gro fert ratios to them for the last month and a half. At this point, I am seeing spectacular results and plant health for both the cuttings and the two old plants. This bodes well.

I am doing an experiment with the abovementioned cuttings. I will be growing these cuttings throughout this winter and spring in order to have them available to make cuttings from these plants to be used for the 2017 growing season. That's the plan; I hope it works.

Last edited by BajaMitch; October 26, 2016 at 10:25 PM.
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Old October 28, 2016   #21
elight
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BajaMitch, can you shafe your grow media and fertilizer details? I know I spend way more than that per container and would love to know what can be done to cut costs.

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Old October 29, 2016   #22
BajaMitch
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I use 4.25 gallon containers that I get from various restaurants for free. It isn’t that easy, though.You have to walk into many restaurants hat in hand to beg for their free empty containers with lids, but it is worth it.

I use Kellogg’s Outdoor Premium Potting mix at $5.97 + tax for 1.5 cu ft., Sunshine Sphagnum Peatmoss at $12.47+ tax for 3 cu ft compressed (yields 6to 7 cu ft expanded), Perlite $14.00 + tax for 4 cu ft., compost from equestrian center at $2.50 + tax for 1.75 cu ft.

The 4.25 gallon Self-Watering Container (SWC) holds 3.5 gallons of wet grow media + ferts plus the volume for the water reservoir.

For the SWC, the basic grow media, I use, by volume,
6.7% compost = 285 grams,
51.5% potting mix = 2,608 grams,
20% peat = 505 grams ,
20% perlite = 304 grams

and the following added ferts:
59.6 grams Vigoro 17-17-17
77.8 grams bone meal
53.34 grams potassium nitrate, KNO3
0.09 grams calcium nitrate, CaNO3
49.3 grams dolomite
1.28 grams calcium carbonate, CaCO3
28.56 grams Epsom salts
¾ teaspoon Alaska Fish solution
35.86 grams potassium sulfate, K2SO4
1 gram monopotassium phosphate, KH2PO4

The above recipe costs me a total of $2.77 for everything for one plant for the complete growing season not including the cost of the seedling. I get the containers for free.If I buy the seedlings at local nurseries, they cost $5 for a packet of 6 seedlings of one cultivar, or $3 to $4 for each a seedling.So, the obvious way to reduce that cost to almost zero is to use seeds from the previous year’s crop or to grow cuttings over the winter from the previous year’s crop.Then use that plant to get cuttings and grow them into seedlings for the next year.That’s what I am going to do.

The above results in the Hydro-Gardens Chem-gro formula precisely. I put the non water soluble Vigoro 17-17-17 in a fert strip circle 1 inch deep from the top surface and at the perimeter of the container.I put the non soluble bone meal, dolomite, and calcium carbonate in a flat layer about 2 to 3 inches from the top of the container.All the water soluble ferts are periodically fed to the plant by way of fertigation spread throughout the 180 day season which begins on April 1st with the planting of a 10 inch to one foot tall seedling.

4.25 drip irrigation container that holds 4.5 gallons of wet grow media + ferts:

For the Drip Irrigation containers’ basic grow media, I use, by volume:
30% compost = 1,636 grams,
35.5% potting mix = 2,305 grams,
16.67% peat = 540 grams ,
16.67% perlite = 326 grams

and the following ferts:
105.6 grams Vigoro 17-17-17
3.4 grams ammonium sulfate
50.4 grams bone meal
48 grams dolomite
0.7 grams calcium carbonate, CaCO3
7.6 grams Epsom salts
44.3 grams potassium sulfate, K2SO4
12.2 grams monopotassium phosphate, KH2PO4

The above recipe costs me a total of $3.11 for everything for one plant for the complete growing season, not including the cost of the seedling. I get the containers for free.


To control costs, I looked high and low for the KNO3, K2SO4, KH2PO4, and CaNO3 until I found a local chemical company that carried this stuff.It cost me about $88.00 for those four items altogether, but I got good volumes that reduced the per gram cost significantly over having to buy them at smaller volumes on the internet plus shipping.The price per gram when purchased in 1 or 2 lb bags would be sky high.Buying in larger quantities locally reduces the cost per gram by 50% to 85% not to mention the big savings on shipping which saves another $30 alone.The one problem with this is that I had to buy a 50 Lb bag of KNO3 – I had no good choice in the matter as the prices were all over the place on the internet.All the chemical suppliers that I found locally only carried KNO3 in 50 Lb bags.

Note that, at least in my experience, various plastic buckets will claim to be a certain specific volume, but the actual volume is often different from the claim. Also, when you irrigate the dry ingredients, they lose about 21% of its dry volume.My recipes account for this so that the wet ingredients come right to the top of the 4.25 gallon container.

It is interesting to note that the cost of the SWC versus the Drip Irrigation Container is very similar even though the volume of grow media in the SWC is 22% less. While the the larger volume of grow media in the Drip Irrigation Container requires more fertilizer, it also contains 30% compost which provides a great deal of NPKCaMgS at a low cost which reduces the quantity of the more costly added ferts.

My goal in life is to find that optimal balance of cost to good fruit yield. I am getting very close to my goal.
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Old November 3, 2016   #23
WilburMartin
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I grew tomatoes in containers only - hybrid: Patio, Better Bush, Creole; open-pollenation: Pink Berkeley Tie Dye, Sweet Carneros Pink, Pink Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter; I used a combination of 5 gallon paint buckets, Sterlite 18 gallon containers, recyclable shopping bags in bus tubs of water

I fed a mix of Espoma Tomato Tone, Miracle Grow Tomato, and Texas Tomato Food

I got tomatoes from all of the plants so far - not a ton of tomatoes, and they were not huge, but they all tasted good (well, sweet corners pink was just ok)
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Old November 8, 2016   #24
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Wilbur, I grew the brandywine and pink Berkeley tie dye too. I had 20 15 gal pots and 14 3 gal. Used roots organic potting mix. Can I pep up this mix somehow or would I be better off starting over? Thanks Jimbo.
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Old November 10, 2016   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BajaMitch View Post
My cost per container (grow media plus ferts) will range between $2.77 and $3.63 for the Drip irrigation containers and between $2.34 to $2.98 for the self-watering containers for an entire growing season.
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Originally Posted by elight View Post
I know I spend way more than that per container and would love to know what can be done to cut costs.

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I don't find it that cheap tbh, but probably will yield more than I do with my somewhat organic method.
I used this year less than a 5kg bag of organic 7-3-10 for my 11 plants (7 containers, 4 bigger with two plants in it, and 3 smaller with one plant), about 5-6 gallon per plant.
The most I got was 16-17 lb per plant, and half of that for cherries (I only get about 5-6 hours of sun though). I payed 15 euro I think for that bag with shipping.
Also added some epsom salts (quite cheap), and 'stolen' for free some microelements.
So that came to less than 1.5 euro per plant for fertilizing only (organic).
Now about the medium and containers, it depends how much time it lasts. The plastic containers cost quite a bit (10-12 euro per container for 2 plants?) but I hope they will last 10 years or so. The potting mix I used was 3 bags or so of 80l, which cost 5 years ago 10 euro each (it's more expensive now). I use the same medium now, didn't change it.
Depends also how expensive the water is, if the water costs a lot, it can be rather expensive, since you will use quite a lot compared to inground.
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Old November 16, 2016   #26
BajaMitch
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zipcode, have you ever calculated your cost per container for grow media and ferts? If so, could you share that with us in euros?
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Old November 21, 2016   #27
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Mine have been about 4.5 euro per plant (around 5-6 gallons), 1.5 euro for fertilizer and 3 for mix (but this would not consider that I reuse the mix, which I do).
But I only have 10 plants on the balcony so I just get everything in normal sizes, if you would go for a more bulk approach things would be cheaper.
Looking at it in bulk: 200L of Klasmann mix or Kekkila 15 euro (this is really cheap compared to what you can find in US, here peat is still reasonably priced). Enough for 8 plant minimum, let's say 2 euro per plant.
A 25kg bag of organic 6-8-15 is 30 euro, 15 euro if you go towards east Europe. About 500g per plant, 0.6 euro per plant. Let's add 0.4 for other stuff like Calcium nitrate or epsom salts.
So 3 euro per plant, of which 2/3 is the mix.
The production is ok, as I said, between 10 and 20 lbs per plant of non-hybrids, but not as good as using chemicals, also the taste fluctuates, from fantastic to acceptable, and I still haven't found the exact cause, I would expect the controlled nature of chemical dosing to help with that a lot.
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Old December 2, 2016   #28
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For the cosmonaut... How often did you have to water your 15-gal grow bag? And what kind of cage is that?

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Old December 2, 2016   #29
Ricky Shaw
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For the cosmonaut... How often did you have to water your 15-gal grow bag? And what kind of cage is that?

The cages are Texas Tomato Cages and the one in the pic is a 24", I also have the 20" size and for container growing I think the smaller one works better. Only running 2 or 3 stems, you just don't need all the hanging space inside the larger ones. The extra room to ventilate certainly doesn't hurt, it's just the larger sizes take up more space in the garden.


To be sure we both mean 'watering' in the same context, I'm speaking of a fertilized water on a continual basis. The Cosmonaut Volkov's were hydrated basically like all the other 15gal fabric pots. Mid-season under load, between 2 and 2.5 gallons, depending on heat and humidity.

Last edited by Ricky Shaw; December 2, 2016 at 10:28 AM. Reason: correct figures
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Old January 4, 2017   #30
User 636
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I've only been growing successfully for two seasons now. This year I set up an automatic drip system that really helped. It is the water needs of the various plants that have me deciding what works and does not work for me. My containers are all on my deck.

This year I tried the Michael Pollan tomatoes from rareseeds. They struggled to fill out their entire trellis. They'd flower but I'd get only a quarter of the flowers pollinating. I also scoured Black Prince from my list because they cracked under the uneven watering that is a fact of life. It rains and they were offended by that. Prolific but the fruits cracked every single rainfall. I work 12 hour days so can only pick and prune on my days off and I need a plant that can deal with that.

The yellow stuffing tomatoes I got also suffered under the uneven water/heat conditions.

My biggest issue with my setup is getting my beefsteak tomatoes to have any size. I get tones of 6 ounce black krim but I'd like a few larger ones. I stop getting larger tomatoes as the season advances.

This was end of june when things start going. I have to pick as soon as they blush or the birds rip open my larger tomatoes. By August they figured out that the yellow tomatoes were also edible. I may try netting this year to protect them.

I'm also going to try earthtainers for the larger tomatoes. The cherries did just fine in my simple pots with the drop system.


Last edited by User 636; January 4, 2017 at 01:56 PM.
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