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

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Old May 24, 2017   #31
Worth1
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I didn't think a horse could live on grain alone.
Too much of it will cause them to founder and they don't have enough sense to stop eating it.
Too much protein.
Horses need hay too.
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Old May 24, 2017   #32
bower
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Ricky... ouch!
The container mix that worked really well for me in the past was a mix of compost and peat, that I amended every year with fresh compost and kelp plus some other ferts. Tania also uses a 50/50 mix of peat and compost, so it's not that unusual for organic gardeners. The company that I buy from has a very nice compost made from fish discards and peat. They used to sell a potting mix of about 1/3 compost and 2/3 peat, which made up the bulk of my container mix, but sadly they discontinued the product as it was not profitable for them to produce. I can still buy the peat (in bulk only) and the compost, but I have to mix them myself.
The mistake that made me decide to change out the container mix, is that one spring when they hadn't got delivery on their compost before planting time, I used my own garden compost which was only a year old and still had some layers of herb straw in it that wasn't broken down. It turned out that those compost piles were overwintering sites for sweat bees, and I ended up with tiny bees in the greenhouse - where I expected to control pollination myself. In consideration that some other tiny pests seemed to be getting established as well, I decided to cycle it all out to make a garlic bed and start afresh. Then I got the wrong stuff altogether last year, and now I have to do it all over again. A lot of work moving soil .
The most sensible thing for me to do is to stick with what certainly worked in the past, so I think that's the plan for the big containers anyway, but will try the manure in the mix for some smaller ones - unless it kills my mini Moravsky in the test!
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Old May 24, 2017   #33
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Worth, thinking about the debris found in a load of manure, the only thing remarkable in last year's was a large amount of plastic tags off of bread bags. Wonder if he feeds bread to the horses?
Anyhoo here is the starting pic for my cruel test. If anything is meaner than leaving a runty tomato for seven weeks in a 9 cell, it would be sticking that runty root directly into this stuff with no amendments or other ferts. There is maybe more unrotted hay in it than I thought, very grassy and not a good texture on its own, for sure, although worms in every handful, so it won't be grassy for long if we get some warm days. The unfortunate plant is now put in the rainy day greenhouse so a bit of simultaneous hardening off in store. No 'controls' in this experiment, but at least there's a pic! If the leaves green up or the plant grows it can be judged a plain miracle. I often have seen a bit of leaf curling on tomatoes when their roots encounter a cold and clammy bit of raw kelp just after transplant. They recoil and throw their leaves in the air with as much drama as they can muster. However they soon get over it. We shall see if this is worse.
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Old May 24, 2017   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bower View Post
The manure was always very well rotted and older than what I have here this spring. Also full of horseshoes - there are dozens around my property from back when, and syringes, which is not so nice.

Check out the art you can make with old horseshoes.
https://www.etsy.com/market/horseshoe_art
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Old May 24, 2017   #35
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Got delivered free from my neighbor 1yd of horse manure. Nice until I found that he used herbisides on the feed and it killed most of my plants. So know your source!!!!!
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Old May 24, 2017   #36
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Quote:
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Someone around here keeps saying to plant bean seeds and see what happens to them. If they die you know it's full of pesticide.
One of those "someone's " would be me .
Sowing a few bean seeds in a pint of any mix or manure or compost is a quick free test to check for the presence herbicides. It will not detect insecticide or pesticides.
If the plants emerge and appear normal all is well. If there is stunting, twisting, discolouration that would indicate the presence of herbicide such as glyphosate.

A well known plant virologist and scientist here taught me that and it is common practice for me . You should have your answer in a week or so. Whenever I buy soil mix or amendments I think it is easy to do and can avert a disaster to check before adding to your existing garden or pots. Ask for a small sample if buying in bulk or getting some from a farm. Special caution with horse manure as of the types I know I think it is the most likely to have herbicide contamination.

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Old May 24, 2017   #37
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FWIW Paris and other large european cities were fed on plants grown in composted horse manure.
It was swept from the streets, composted, and used in cold frames to grow a great deal of vegetables within the city limits. The rotting manure was used as a warm bed to keep plants growing in the winter.
Used once and tossed to get maximum production. Can't recall where I saw this, maybe Elliot Coleman's book winter harvest?
Their biggest challenge was not cold, but hours of sunlight.

Bower you are on to something with the soil heater. Soil temp is more critical than air temp for plant health.
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Old May 24, 2017   #38
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Nem, too right about soil temperature, especially tomatoes. It was FusionPower who first pointed out the importance of three warm days at transplant time, and avoid the stress of cold soil. AKMark has other tricks, including warm watering. A tomato in cold soil will have purple stems and leaves. bjbebs plants don't show those signs of cold stress at all, so I think the warmth is working.

It's a funny coincidence that we're about the same latitude as Paris, and their shortest day is actually a few minutes short of ours. So the daylength issues are the same although other factors make it colder for us.

I need a pony!
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Old May 24, 2017   #39
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I like the heating method. We put in a radiant floor in a kitchen once. Small pump
recycled hot water from the hot water tank.

Considered a few runs of the heated outdoor floor mats one bad winter a few yrs ago.
Just plugs into an outlet.

Outside the garden we have a big coil of black water tubing on a full sun rock
outcropping. Also hooked up to an outdoor shower. Gets really hot, almost too hot for
a shower some days. Gravity fed to a soaker hose for the grapes and just outside the
main tomato bed. As long as the valve is shut during the heat of the day, a good long
shower, then shut off for the rest of the day, warm water for the garden.

But you will need some sun,

Still trying to figure out NFLD. It is April-June that needs some warmth for the head
start.

I've been using the bean test this year. I would use the poo. After testing with beans
or better, sacrifice a tom seedling.
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Old May 31, 2017   #40
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I have some commercial horse pellets I use in containers. They are dry, and rated 2-2-2 nkp, so quite a bit lower than chicken, but not super low. I wouldn't put serious amount of it in the mix, too much starting fertilizer could be bad not just because it will burn the roots.
The texture after it starts breaking down seems quite fibrous so to say, so all in all I don't think it's a bad idea for containers if it's not contaminated. I use it as an organic matter source besides my usual chicken/molases based one.
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Old May 31, 2017   #41
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I would never use any animal fertilizer in a container- it is just too strong.
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Old May 31, 2017   #42
bower
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Your posts reminded me, so I nipped down and took a pic of the Mini Moravsky test. Same seedling in pure horse puckey, one week later. Pretty sure there are no herbicide residues to worry about, anyway.
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Old May 31, 2017   #43
Rockporter
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Now I would say that's a nice and healthy plant you have there. I'd be happy with that.
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Old May 31, 2017   #44
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I wouldn't go that far. The plant doesn't look entirely happy, though the cause of it's discomfiture may not be its dirt. It does look generally healthy, and the spectre of herbicides is apparently eliminated.
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Old May 31, 2017   #45
Rockporter
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What's not healthy about it? I don't see anything wrong with that plant. It's only been a week in the pot, it's probably still settling in from the transplant. I see nothing wrong with it.
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