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

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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #1
Greatgardens
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Default "Improving" on an EarthBox?

I have a total of 11 EB's, and really find them very handy, especially for my 70+ year-old knees. But to me they have a weakness of being too shallow. As a result, when you dig into the media 4 or 5" (apx), the mix is downright "mushy." There are several possible fixes for this, but using more perlite is not one of them, unless you would get to the point of having a layer of nearly all perlite close to the plastic grate. A common "fix" is to heap up the mix at the top making a significant "bread loaf" under the EB cover. That certainly helps.

Another idea I've toyed with is to make a "collar" that would raise the height of the box by several inches. The is a limit, of course as to how much wicking you can get, but I really don't believe that would be an issue, since the roots can always go down a bit to get to moisture.

Has anyone ever experimented with ways to increase the depth and increase the area of not-so-wet media? If you have (or just have any thoughts on the subject), what material would you use? I may just try a box or two modified for next year.

-GG
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Last edited by Greatgardens; 4 Weeks Ago at 03:47 PM.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #2
ginger2778
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I have 47 of them.I never have experienced that mushiness. I am curious, what potting mix are you using?
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #3
Greatgardens
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Quite a few different commercial ones including Pro-Mix and Miracle-Gro, etc. I'm not inclined to build custom mixes using 4 or 5 different ingredients. Basically all are Peat mixes + Perlite. The mushiness is not apparent near the surface -- it's down close to the grate especially when there are lots of roots in there. And the boxes are level. My tomatoes do well as-is, but I'm just not happy with the degree of wetness.
-GG
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #4
Barb_FL
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Your plants are beautiful!!!!

What kind of cages are you using? I use the 14" square ones sold online by several sources and bend the legs in a little on the bottom to make them fit. I have to try tying them down on the sides like you.


I have 16 EB and never noticed them being mushy in the top 6". A couple of years ago, I started putting cut shade cloth over the plastic grate so less mix would fall into the reservior. I don't put the shade cloth over the wicking part.

If your mix is mushy, your plants don't seem to mind or notice. LoL
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #5
ginger2778
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greatgardens View Post
Quite a few different commercial ones including Pro-Mix and Miracle-Gro, etc. I'm not inclined to build custom mixes using 4 or 5 different ingredients. Basically all are Peat mixes + Perlite. The mushiness is not apparent near the surface -- it's down close to the grate especially when there are lots of roots in there. And the boxes are level. My tomatoes do well as-is, but I'm just not happy with the degree of wetness.
-GG
Sounds like you are doing things perfectly.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #6
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Yes, I tried growing onions in shallow stuff and I know what you mean. Taller would be probably better, but as you can see tomatoes can tolerate mushiness quite well (unlike onions).
I thought the classic EB mix was one where you add about 1/3 or more bark fines. So promix + 1/3 bark fines, maybe even more perlite (it will help for sure but you need to get to a % where it actually matters).
I grow in mostly peat but it's top watered (manually) so a different story, it gets to partly dry between waterings.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #7
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I dont think there is much of a way to improve on one besides maybe making them bigger.
I dont have any nor do I intend on getting any but they are a good product.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #8
Greatgardens
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Hi Barb_FL-
Thanks! Yes, I use the same type cages that you mention, bending in the lower legs for both ends. Then I cut off the legs from the sides with a bolt cutter. (I've got one cage in the pic that I still need to cut off.) Tying them down really is a necessity for our big summer storms, but by joining the two cages with a twister-tie means I only need two tie-downs per box. BTW, a 21X is in the last EB junior at the far right of the pic. It's about 2 feet tall and very bushy, now.

---

After thinking about this some, I think that I will sacrifice a spare plastic tote to make a collar that will add about 3". And secure it at the 4 corners with stainless screws using small cedar stakes that will go (angled) into the EB nearly to the grate. I have extra fill tubes, so extending the tube should be no problem. The cover should still fit, I think. Anyway, a project for next season.
-GG
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #9
nancyruhl
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I don't think wicking would be a problem if you add a collar. My 5 gallon buckets wick moisture adequately and they have much more depth. My experience with plastic totes has been that they quickly deteriorate with sun exposure. Maybe using sides from planter boxes would last longer. Just a thought.
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