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New to growing your own tomatoes? This is the forum to learn the successful techniques used by seasoned tomato growers. Questions are welcome, too.

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Old August 16, 2012   #61
rsrb
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Default fall seeds in de

Given all the interest in DE as a starter medium I thought I should report back. By the time I found my bag at a far away Autozone it was too late for summer, but I did try using it to start some fall plants. I put them outside, where it's warmer these days. (is this the humor column?) So far some of the seeds --both big and little ones--have been happy on my deck. "Homemade Pickles" cucumbers from Botanical Interests are the most vigorous growers. Broccoli (Calabrese) and cauliflower (Snowball x) are coming along nicely. However, the two squashes I tried (round zucchini and butternut) are so far not germinating. I know it would have been a stretch for the butternut to finish growing, but not impossible. Basil also not germinating but maybe the seeds were too old, or maybe they don't like DE. (squash seeds were vintage 2012, so they must have a different issue.)
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Old August 17, 2012   #62
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rsrb, Give us some pictures when you get a chance.
How long have they been growing in the DE and what have you been feeding them?
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Old August 20, 2012   #63
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So far the results are very good on the few seeds I have started in the stuff from Auto Zone. I planted some spinach on the 16th and had one pop up on the 18th and most are now up. That is far faster than I have ever had spinach sprout. My biggest worry with the spinach will be when it comes time to transplant them. I just don't know if few roots of spinach seedlings will cling well when trying to set them out. I will be starting some more fall seeds this week. I love working with the stuff. It soaks up water from the bottom much faster than any other medium I have ever used and the way it turns white when dry is an easy signal that they may need a bit of water. One thing I did learn is you want to do any leveling before you get the stuff wet. It is very easy to smooth out flat when dry but not when wet. I have really high hopes for this, so thanks again for posting the tip.

Bill
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Old August 21, 2012   #64
meadowyck
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Well, my plans to have seeds started by now have been put off time and again, but finally TODAY, I will be planting, hurray..........
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Old August 26, 2012   #65
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Well I have found one thing out about the Ultra-Sorb that I will have to watch out for and that is when it dries out it really dries out. When it starts turning white on top it is best to go ahead and water from the bottom right away and don't wait too long or your seedlings will wilt badly from getting too dry.
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Old August 26, 2012   #66
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That's right. The technique is just passive hydroponics. Instead of using the color of the surface as a signal as when to bottom water, you can keep some water/nutrient solution in your tray at all times, the DE will draw up the liquid through capillary action as needed. There is always plenty of air space between the large DE particles so there is no worries about water logging like there is in seed starting mix or potting soil. It's kind of like a miniature SWC except you are using a totally inorganic medium to anchor the roots.
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Old August 26, 2012   #67
Diriel
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I am going to be growing some Prue tom's and some Rooster Spur peppers this next year.

-- http://www.seedsavers.org/Details.as...o=1467%28OG%29 --

My question is... does anyone have a good idea about how "well" a Prue would do in a 5 gallon self watering bucket setup? Should I go with something like an 18 gallon self watering? I would kind of rather not go too much larger as the prices of the containers get drastically more expensive.

Thanks for any feedback!
Gary
P.S. I am still considering a 2nd Tom. Variety of some kind. I am in 9b in So. Cal. Near Bakersfield, so it gets pretty hot here. I want a variety that has a lot of flavor.
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Old August 26, 2012   #68
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Gary, you should have posted your question in the "Growing In Containers" forum.
Aside from that, one Prue should do fine in a 5 gallon bucket.

Last edited by RayR; August 26, 2012 at 08:21 PM.
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Old August 26, 2012   #69
Diriel
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RayR,

Sorry sir, next time I will definitely post in containers forum. Thank you for the reply!

Gary
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Old August 27, 2012   #70
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So Ray, how did the tomatos fare during the summer having had those wonderful roots to start off? Did you notice any differences in growth and production?
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Old August 27, 2012   #71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lakelady View Post
So Ray, how did the tomatos fare during the summer having had those wonderful roots to start off? Did you notice any differences in growth and production?
Well, I have had plenty of tomatoes but it's hard to judge growth and production in drought conditions since all my tomatoes are in-ground. Brandywine like some other larger varieties don't seem to thrive growth wise in such conditions, but they did have very good fruit set on smaller plants. Trying to keep up with watering has been a nightmare. The water table is usually pretty high here, but when my big Crimson Maple tree which is close to the garden starts dropping crispy brown leaves in the middle of summer, it sort of tells you there isn't enough water reserves down there.

The peppers on the other hand, both in-ground and in containers have done fantastic, both Chinese Giant and Hungarian Hot Wax from the DE experiment are all totally healthy and more productive than in previous years from those varieties.
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Old September 2, 2012   #72
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I can tell you one thing for sure and that is that this stuff works far better than any other medium I have tried for spinach seed. I got near 100% germination and very fast germination to boot. Spinach has always been the most difficult seed to get a good stand with when starting it early in seed trays. Last year I planted and replanted over and over and never got enough healthy plants to set in the garden. I have planted it twice this year and both times the results have been fantastic and I was using left over seed from last year. I have had no damping off of any seed started in the Ultrasorb even though we have been having daily rains for a month and the humidity has been awful. I can't wait to see how good it does with tomatoes and peppers this winter and spring.
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Old September 2, 2012   #73
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Now you've got me motivated to try Spinach transplants in DE. I've always direct seeded spinach, sometimes with mixed results because if the temps get hot early in spring it wants to bolt or if their is too much rain the seedlings get drowned. I know what you mean about the difficult germination problem.
I'd like to get some transplants in the ground and containers this fall to overwinter for a early spring crop. The best spinach I've ever grown was started in fall and overwintered.
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Old September 3, 2012   #74
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I have been starting my spinach for years in containers and then transplanting. I always try to set out spinach in the fall because down here the spring can turn hot too soon and it just bolts. When I do set it out for the spring it is usually in early February. I used to direct sow and once in a while I would get a decent stand that wasn't messed up by too many large gaps; but usually I ended up with spinach taking up way more space than was necessary because I would plant such a long row. Now I just use about 6 ft of one raised bed and transplant my seedlings about a foot apart in staggered little rows giving me about 30 plants in the space which is far more than we need once it starts getting a little size on it.
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Old September 6, 2012   #75
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Haven't read the whole thread yet.

So its a course grain DE, has anyone compared it with Turface-which is calcined clay that looks like cat litter. Does DE(Ultrasorb form) have nutrient properties?
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