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Old April 11, 2020   #16
Joe Lyddon
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Originally Posted by tanstaafl72555 View Post
You guys are awesome. Thanks for all the responses. I am a little nervous as I "saturated" the buckets, in that I filled them to the point that water dribbled out of the holes in the bottom, let them sit in the sun for an afternoon, and then planted (or transplanted, to be more correct). I was a little surprised to see how LONG the water took to run thru the mix, and when I turned it, it looked like "gumbo" land (if you are from the South you know.... marshy, mucky, always wet swamp stuff). Dunno when to water, and more importantly, how much. Much thanks for the "collander" advice above. Actually, much thanks to everyone. I have now 56 buckets out, with three raised beds. Let's just hope I don't manage to kill everything.

Perhaps using a Moisture Meter would Tell You when it needs water?
The kind with a long probe... Stick it in, read the meter, either Water it or just go to next bucket.


You have a LOT of buckets of Tomatoes!! What kind(s) are you growing? Determinate/Indeterminate? Fertilizer & how often?



My main problem is stopping something from EATING them... I found big beetles, green winged June bugs(?)... I put netting over them... THEY STILL get to them! NOW what?! Do you have a pest problem?
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Old April 13, 2020   #17
tanstaafl72555
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Thanks for the rec on moisture meter above. Will do. Right now I have three kinds of "soil" in my buckets. In some, I have just regular miracle gro potting mix. In some, I have a recipe of 1/3 peat moss, and then 2/3 of a 50:50 mix of compost/soil. In the others it is straight 50:50 compost soil with no peat. I am the most wary of the last group. The soil gets very damp and clingy and packed when you saturate with water with the last. I think what I should have done is saturate, and then go in after a day and turn it good, and then plant.
I have several kinds of tomatoes. I have some Better Boy, some Cherokee Purple, some Burpee brand (can't remember the name), some Burpee grape, and some no name cherries, as well as some leftover heirlooms which did not get labeled correctly (mystery tomatoes!)
I have lost two of the better boys, and one cherokee purple. Some of them are looking scraggly, and some robust. Doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason.
I am learning, here.
I wish I had started this earlier (I am three years into this).
It is almost like raising kids... there are so many things you can (and will!!!) do wrong.
Hopefully, I won't ruin them. My daughters made it and are women of whom I am proud, and they have great kids. I suppose if I did not ruin them, nor their offspring, maybe there is hope....
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Old April 14, 2020   #18
Joe Lyddon
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Originally Posted by tanstaafl72555 View Post
Thanks for the rec on moisture meter above. Will do. Right now I have three kinds of "soil" in my buckets. In some, I have just regular miracle gro potting mix. In some, I have a recipe of 1/3 peat moss, and then 2/3 of a 50:50 mix of compost/soil. In the others it is straight 50:50 compost soil with no peat. I am the most wary of the last group. The soil gets very damp and clingy and packed when you saturate with water with the last. I think what I should have done is saturate, and then go in after a day and turn it good, and then plant.
I have several kinds of tomatoes. I have some Better Boy, some Cherokee Purple, some Burpee brand (can't remember the name), some Burpee grape, and some no name cherries, as well as some leftover heirlooms which did not get labeled correctly (mystery tomatoes!)
I have lost two of the better boys, and one cherokee purple. Some of them are looking scraggly, and some robust. Doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason.
I am learning, here.
I wish I had started this earlier (I am three years into this).
It is almost like raising kids... there are so many things you can (and will!!!) do wrong.
Hopefully, I won't ruin them. My daughters made it and are women of whom I am proud, and they have great kids. I suppose if I did not ruin them, nor their offspring, maybe there is hope....

Very good! I think you will like your #2 soil mix the best... #3, second... I also think you would like it better if you added 25% of Perlite to it... It stops the soil from caking-up into solid clumps... keeps it nice flackey... retains moisture too.. promotes good drainage... I would NOT expect much from the Miracle Grow soil...



I like to plant in Heavy Fabric 5 gal buckets with handles on them... So far, they are working great... They allow for good drainage... and are very easy to move around... This is the second season using them... Hope to do better this time... Something just ATE things Big Time last season... I still have Strawberries and Green Onions from last year, growing! This year I am using a fine netting to hopefully keep the plants from being eaten so fast! We shall see... Pretty soon Spring will be here & things will be getting warmer promoting better growth.


Good Luck & thank you in advance for keeping us updated on your experience this season.


And above all, keep washing you hands and Face to help stop the virus from getting to you.


Later...
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Old April 14, 2020   #19
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Perlite ... retains moisture too..

To the contrary. The main reason to use Perlite is that it retains AIR. The volcanic foam does not absorb (much) water but retains oxygen to keep saturated roots from drowning. And of course as a relatively large particle (>1/8" mostly) it improves drainage and drops that PWT. So yes! it would be a good addition.



Also, I find the Miracle Gro Potting Mix (not Soil) a good all-around compromise - depending on where you are. In Georgia it's great. In Texas, not so great but better than the alternatives. Each region uses the available ingredients.
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Old April 16, 2020   #20
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New questions:
I dug up a couple of the ones I killed (maybe i didn't.... they were scraggly when I got them). I dug down into the bucket and the pure compost/soil mix was an absolute clot/sponge. You could almost squeeze water from it. So I definitely need to redo that mix, and get some "fluff" in the soil. I have heard that crumbling up styrofoam packing material makes a good perlite substitute. Any experience with this? For right now, I am going to get some peat moss for the 5 buckets where I lost plants.

Also, I failed to put down a good layer of mulch on top of the soil. Lots of splashed up muck on the plants the last rain, so I have repented (!). I went an bought a bale of wheat straw, stuck it in a large trash can, and ran a weed whacker in there. It cuts it up REALLY good, and I can spread it out on the tops of the buckets in a fine layer.

Just learning as I go, and REALLY regretting I did not engage in this earlier in my life.

For the record, my squash/zucchini, corn, peppers, cucumbers, melons, eggplant and spinach are all doing superb. Potatoes are not up yet (planted them almost 4 weeks ago and getting nervous). I plan to get some lettuce, carrots, herbs in over the next few days. NC weather is tricky. I thought it was straight up summer, with temps in the mid 80s, and then last night we hit 37 degrees Farenheit.

Thank you to all for responding, and putting up with my nervous nellie fixation here.
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Old April 16, 2020   #21
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I wouldn't want to pollute my garden with styrofoam.
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Old April 16, 2020   #22
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Are you trying to make an analog of Tapla's 5:1:1?

Look for small pine bark nuggets. I would screen these and use the small bits that passed through, but if the nuggets are not too big you can go ahead use them as is. If you see any wood, pick it out. As wood rots it eats nitrogen.

In place of the sphagnum peat I use commercial mix, notably Miracle Gro Potting Mix (not Soil). It's already pretty well draining. At the end of the day, my Tapla analog is more like 5:2.5:1 with very good results.

Stryofoam I'm skeptical of. Not sure why. Anyone use it? (Obviously it contributes to the environmental plastics problem.)
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Old April 18, 2020   #23
Joe Lyddon
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To the contrary. The main reason to use Perlite is that it retains AIR. The volcanic foam does not absorb (much) water but retains oxygen to keep saturated roots from drowning. And of course as a relatively large particle (>1/8" mostly) it improves drainage and drops that PWT. So yes! it would be a good addition.



Also, I find the Miracle Gro Potting Mix (not Soil) a good all-around compromise - depending on where you are. In Georgia it's great. In Texas, not so great but better than the alternatives. Each region uses the available ingredients.



OK, thank you... Didn't know that about Perlite... It sure helps keep the soil loose and stops it from getting packed / solid, etc. where it's hard to work with and GROW things in.

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Old April 19, 2020   #24
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I've grown in raised beds and containers for many years. I've not grown in containers as small as five gallon buckets. Most of my containers are twenty five gallon. I have planted three jalapeno plants in three, three gallon pots this year for the fun of it. My main crop peppers are in beds.


I set up a drip system on all my containers a few years ago with battery powered timers on my different watering systems. It's all controlled with either 1/2 or 1 gallon per hour drippers on 1/4" tubing. Right now, my timers are set at two minutes watering times in the morning and afternoon. In really hot weather, it my go up to five or six minutes. If water runs out of the drain holes, I am over watering. I Replace the batteries in the spring and leave it alone except for some time changes through the summer. It works great for me.

The entire system was very inexpensive, but I think the prices may have gone up a little lately.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmforcier View Post
Are you trying to make an analog of Tapla's 5:1:1?

Look for small pine bark nuggets. I would screen these and use the small bits that passed through, but if the nuggets are not too big you can go ahead use them as is. If you see any wood, pick it out. As wood rots it eats nitrogen.

In place of the sphagnum peat I use commercial mix, notably Miracle Gro Potting Mix (not Soil). It's already pretty well draining. At the end of the day, my Tapla analog is more like 5:2.5:1 with very good results.

Stryofoam I'm skeptical of. Not sure why. Anyone use it? (Obviously it contributes to the environmental plastics problem.)

Tapla's 5:1:1, that is a name I haven't heard or thought about since my old garden web days. Is he still around?
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #26
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Well, the mix certainly is still around. A good mix, but not made with very water hungry plants in mind, or for organic fertilizing. Of course, for drip fertigation it will be great.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #27
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GardenWeb is where I picked it up. For hand-watered pots it's great in milder weather. When that temp hits 100F and the sun is out, you'll be watering twice a day. The plants will love it and I didn't mind it, but some might.



You can decrease the ratio of fines, but PWT will kill in hot dry weather, too, so not too much. I think my later batches were more like 5:3:1.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #28
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i have had some success with hempy buckets and Masterblend.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #29
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I have had pretty good success growing in 3.3 gal buckets over a rain gutter with wicks made from pint size containers down to 3" net cups. My mixes...all over the place, honestly. Probably only about 10% perlite, peat moss, lots of compost or aged horse manure. These pots have been going for years now, and I just renew each year with grass/leaf compost, 10-10-10, and repack the wick with 2/3 peat and 1/3 perlite. I grow mostly in the ground, so I never bothered much with containers that are not self watering.

Mostly I wanted to write to say perlite is really some amazing stuff. If you can a wholesale place that is the way to go. My brother and I bought a 2 yard bag of it for a little over $100 in 2016 for raised beds, and we just got another bag this year. That is a whole lot cheaper than 4 ft for $25. Just 10% really loosens up the mix. For wicking, I'd shoot for 20-25%. Just wear a mask, because it can be dusty during the pour.

I have read of swapping styrofoam (expanded polystyrene) for perlite, but other than the color, I don't see how it would act the same in the mix.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #30
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I once had a disagreement with Al "tapla" on garden web. I thought his mix was good, but in my case; unnecessary since I use a drip system. At the time, I used a mix of clay soil, play sand, peat moss; and compost from my compost bin and it worked well for me for many years in containers. I didn't want to run all over the area looking for all his expensive ingredients for his mix. Al became quite perturbed with me. I never took the position that my way was the correct way for anyone besides me, but it worked for me. Al finally got me kicked off Garden Web. I forgot to thank him.

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