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Old May 30, 2015   #31
squirrel789
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Luigiwu,

Thanks for the info, actually I'd love to learn more about the sub-irrigated container method, as it makes a lot of sense. I just won't probably won't get to trying it out for a few more seasons until my trough garden obsession subsides a bit, right now they are good for the space I have - and I already have them

Concerning your previous post, thanks for helping me feel better about the extra moisture on the bottom, and I guess it isn't so bad as I first thought. There's a drainage plug on the side near the bottom and I might even drill some more holes in the lower part of the sides, we will see. I've got 2 containers to experiment with, so maybe I'll try both ways. Sorry for such a long-winded response to your brief post...

I realize now what it was that confused me so much and made me a bit paranoid when I switched to container gardens this year; there are a lot of ways to grow great tomatoes! Unfortunately I let one opinion/method make me think that it was the only/best one and I tried to retrofit my setup to incorporate that system's ideas.

I know my setup isn't ideal and next year I definitely plan to make changes, tweaks, and optimizations, particularly concerning the growing medium. I'll use what I've learned here and will learn as I watch my tomatoes grow and produce. In fact, I hope to experiment with lots of different mixtures, methods, and containers in years to come, and yet I'm sure I will still be learning and making changes for the rest of my lifetime. The experimentation, planning and implementation is where I find a lot of the joy in gardening (besides the great tasting tomatoes and other veggies of course).

So basically I'm not really sweating the PWT thing anymore, but I might play around with some various wick drainage ideas. After all, the experimentation is fun! I'm just going to monitor the container's moisture levels closely and do what I can as the garden develops. I'm sure I'll have plenty more questions to ask all the knowledgeable folks here at TV as the season progresses. Thanks for all the help so far!

If my yield isn't optimal on my first try, or diseases or squirrels get more tomatoes than I do, I will make changes for next year (sure, I'll still be ticked off though ). Of course, I'm always learning new things by reading interesting posts on this forum and I hope I can contribute some info back to the community as well. I'm not new to gardening, my dad was a professional and then hobby farmer his whole life (and of course I always had to help!). I am new to the more modern, specialized and space efficient methods though, and I can't wait to learn more.

I think the most important lesson I'm learning here is that there's no one perfect way as each has some merit. I guess that helps keep me interested; I can always improve something. I like the ultra-fast draining method (5-1-1 mix), the SIC and earthtainers look cool too. I'll likely experiment with at least a variation of all these methods eventually. My love of tomatoes isn't going away anytime soon, so I think I'll have plenty time to figure it out. Sorry, but this thread probably won't get buried too deeply either, as I like to take pics and hope to keep showing the results, for better or for worse.

That said, I always really appreciate hearing any advice, ideas, or criticisms of what I'm doing whenever anyone feels like posting. Thanks TV for answering so many of my questions and reading my rantings!
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Old May 30, 2015   #32
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Your current mix could be made to drain more quickly by adding an additional structural component. Lots of options available, like perlite, pumice, coco coir chips (my favorite), various bark and bark fines, etc.

One thing I know about tomatoes is that they need consistent moisture, but they don't like "wet feet". There are many ways to ensure those conditions. I like having a reservoir and water moving through the container mix via capillary action. Yet despite always having access to water, my soil is not waterlogged. It's wet at the bottom but roots grow through it without rotting due to the properties of the mix and aeration layer between the reservoir and soil.

If you go with the 5-1-1 mix, I hope you like watering. ;-)

Last edited by fonseca; May 30, 2015 at 04:03 AM.
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Old May 30, 2015   #33
squirrel789
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Thank for the advice Fonesca!

I'm not sure how I can add structural elements at this point though, without doing some serious damage to the plants or their roots. They are getting big and I'm not sure it's worth trying to replant them. I do plan to continue experimenting with some different wicking materials/methods for extra drainage just to see if anything works.

I would also really like to learn more about the mix you use and how you maintain a layer of aeration between the standing water in the reservoir and the soil. It would be great to be able to maintain that distribution of moisture evenly throughout the container from the reservoir. Do you use a wick system for the capillary action, or is it just the well balanced mix of the right growing medium components??

As for my containers wetness, it hasn't helped that it has been raining for pretty much the last 3 days straight and is not nearly as hot as usual this time of year, so I haven't really been able to assess if my growing medium will really be that overly moisture retentive once our normal summer weather arrives. Plus, the plants are growing fast and look healthy so far, but I already know I need to change the mixture composition for next time.

Now, about the famous 5-1-1 mix and all that watering...
I read every thread I could find on proper container soil composition ideas, and I'm certainly not 100% sold on the exact 5-1-1 mix anymore, but I see many advantages to the concept.

The main difference is that if a small perched water table would act similar to the small water reservoir at the bottom that you suggested is actually good, then that makes me feel very differently about my mixture now than how I've been thinking about it the past couple of days. It was the strongly suggested idea, on the "other" garden forum, that any PWT is disastrous that worried me so much.

Since the PWT is created when there are fine particles in the mix (as I understand it), then using some at least some some good quality compost would probably not be such a bad idea, so long as a structural component for aeration (bark/perlite/coco chips) and a water retention component or two (peat/coir/vermiculite) are added as well. Does this sound about right as a very basic growing medium?

I know there are LOTS of other components that could/should be added, like dolomite lime for PH regulation, micro-nutrients, enzymes, beneficial bacteria, and calcium to name just a few. I'd rather not get too in-depth about these secondary additives just yet, I am just wanting to make sure I have the basics first. Plus I've tested the "soil" with a pretty good PH meter and I was right at 6.5, so I think I'm alright there. Also the TTF I am using seems to be a pretty comprehensive fertilizer with many if not all of those secondary elements.


The mistakes I made this year seem to be:

1. Freaking out because I thought a PWT would be disastrous and kill my plants, but now I'm realizing that nearly all containers have this and it is typically only a few inches of saturated soil at the bottom of the very large trough. Also I'm not sure why it wouldn't act just like the reservoir you suggested was beneficial. So I guess there's no reason to freak out over it (please correct me if I am wrong in this assumption).

2. I lack a strong structural element in my current mix to help maintain optimal soil aeration and structure. I used a coarse vermiculite, but I have read it can collapse rather quickly, causing soil compaction. I should have used perlite, bark finings, or something else with a larger particle size and more structural integrity. It seems like it's too late to do add any of these to my current mix, so I will just have to see if the coarse vermiculite holds up well enough.

3. I used equal parts of sphagnum peat moss and compost from a trusted local nursery, AND added about half that amount of vermiculite as well. This makes for 3 moisture retentive elements in the soil, which is probably too much? Any thoughts on that?


Essentially, for next year I think I need to do the following differently:

1. Add considerably more structural amendments to the mixture. I really want to try some pine or fir bark finings, just perhaps not in the exact 5-1-1 ratio, due to the hot and often dry summers we have, and I won't have to water so much.

2. Perhaps eliminate the vermiculite and replace it with perlite for better aeration? Perhaps do some of each? This where my knowledge gets even more limited. I'm not sure if this is necessary, but any thoughts/opinions on this would be much appreciated.

3. Perhaps reduce the amount of compost as the water tends to cling to the small particles, if I correctly understood the articles I read. This should reduce the size of the PWT, without eliminating it completely. Could the peat or vermiculite help distribute the water from the PWT more evenly through the rest of the medium if the upper part of the container starts to dry, similar to your reservoir? My reading suggests that it probably wont, but honestly I don't really know. Again, I'm getting into more territory I know little about. I'm not even sure a small PWT at the bottom of the trough is really all that bad.

If I understand correctly, these changes should create a reasonably well draining mix with a small/minimal perched water table. I presume it could act like the small reservoir at the bottom that was recommended as a good thing. The bark fines, though in a lesser ratio than the 5-1-1 recipe, would create spaces for good aeration, and the peat and/or vermiculite would help keep the soil uniformly moist without constant watering. Along with PH additives, if needed based on testing, and using a comprehensive fertilizer like the Texas Tomato Food, this could create a growing medium that would not dry out too quickly, drain well, have good soil aeration, and provide a decently comprehensive nutritional/bacterial spectrum for the needs of the plants and the medium. Basically, the tomato garden should at least turn out better than I think it will this year will.

As always, please correct me if you disagree with any of this, or its just plain wrong...

Whew! Sorry, I know that was a long post... I hope I didn't put anyone to sleep

Any thoughts would be welcome and appreciated.

Thanks!
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Old May 30, 2015   #34
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I had a similar reaction to the PWT when I first read about it. I wouldn't worry about it too much. I need my mix to hold water because of my growing conditions...hot, dry and windy. If there is a PWT in my tomato containers I doubt it is there very long because the tomato plant itself acts as the wick drawing out the water.

The compost in your mix is the unknown. It could be adding structure depending on its composition. I now use granular Diatomaceous Earth (DE) in my mix for structure and water retention and drainage.
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Old May 30, 2015   #35
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Squirrel, I think what fonseca was referring to is using a SWC, either something like an Earthbox or a homemade Earthtainer, that contains an aeration screen. This prevents all the roots from sitting with "wet feet," just a small portion of the potting mix rests in the res of water to wick it up as needed.

But what some of us have been suggesting is, yes, in a way the PWT acts like that when the weather is hot.

I understand what you meant about the wick now - yes, in the soil above your drainage layer is great. And perhaps synthetic is better, good to know!

Tapla can get pretty doom and gloom about the PWT. But plenty of people grow plants successfully in other conditions. Do remember, he is a bonsai grower so he wants his roots to last 100 years or more. We are growing tomatoes here, annuals, so it's not as big of a deal. And remember he is in the north and the consensus is, we do well with it up here.

By the way, I wasn't trying to lecture when I said you started out on a big scale. I have been presuming from your field experience, you just figured you needed a HUGE container to grow indeterminates. It's a totally understandable assumption!
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Old May 30, 2015   #36
squirrel789
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Hi Wormgirl!

As always, I appreciate your help. I am not that familiar with the SWC and earthtainer systems, and so I appreciate the more detailed description.

It may be a bit goofy to already be talking about mixes for next year I suppose, but I am determined to learn the basics of container soil building for my climate and container. Talking things out (well, typing) helps me think my way through the ideas and will help me as I look back at this thread later. Who knows, maybe it will even help a few other container newbies as they go through the same process.

Besides, this may sound stupid, but I hate following recipes.

I truly love to cook, and though I might read a bunch of recipes, I always customize the ingredients or proportions to my own tastes. Sometimes it doesn't work out so well, and other times it turns out more brilliantly than any of the recipes would have. I expect I will do the same with my growing medium next year. I have easy and cheap access to fir or pine bark of the appropriate sizes here, so I plan to try and create q version of the 5-1-1 or 3-1-1 mix but with different proportions and amendments that suit my specific needs. Experimentation keeps things interesting We will see if it works or not. I've got many of years left to experiment (knock on wood), and I like the idea of making my own mix that is custom tailored to the climate and conditions I'm in.

An update on the wick: It been quite rainy here lately, but its dry today and will hopefully stay that way. The wick is certainly helping remove some water from the area that should contain the PWT, but I may tinker with finding a more efficient material. I think the post I read about synthetic fibers may have had to do more with their longevity than efficiency, as cotton and other natural fibers tend to get munched on by the bacteria. Not that I'm worried about the PWT anymore, but I would like to at least minimize it until the plants are big enough utilize it.

Again, I thank you for your responses, I always like the way you explain things

I hope your plants are doing well! Oddly, we have had similar weather lately, as we are unseasonably cool and rainy at the moment. I'm sure this will change though, and hopefully soon, I want to use some TTF again, but fear it would be detrimental to add anymore moisture just yet. Although, I guess the current moisture level would really stay the same - very wet, as water would drain out the bottom as soon as I start to add any, but there would be more nutrients after the rain flush we have been receiving. Think this is a good idea to replace nutrients, or should I just let it dry?

I would love to see some pics of how you grow your tomatoes sometime, and I really appreciate all your responses. And no worries about the driving analogy, you were spot on. I just wanted a big garden and liked the idea of the trough as I haven't seen it done too much before. Plus I like the volume and depth and the flexibility these things bring to the table. They also looks kinda cool on the patio, and the neighbors think it odd, which I kind of enjoy No offense was taken at all, and I am open to as many lectures and advice as I can get!

Cheers!

Last edited by squirrel789; May 30, 2015 at 06:09 PM.
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Old May 30, 2015   #37
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I don't usually follow recipes exactly either. (I do when they come from America's Test Kitchen though, they are spot on!!) The 3:1:1 I believe is a Southern adaptation of the 5:1:1, in fact. But I usually at least look at some recipes to give me an idea so I can end up with something reasonably like I wanted. I am sure you will develop your perfect container mix over time. That would be a good experiment for smaller pots. You could take cuttings and grow them in some different mixes to see what works the best.

A wick's longevity is more important in a long-growing plant, but I suspect natural is actually better at wicking. You can change it next season. Not like it's expensive.

If your tomatoes are looking good, you can fertilize more if you must... the rain does eventually wash away nutrients when you get enough. Or, you could look for a dry fertilizer and/or maybe some compost or worm castings to top dress them with. That will wash down into the soil with the rain, making the rain work for you.

Here's a thread of mine over on GardenWeb where I have been showing my process/progress this season:
http://forums.gardenweb.com/discussi...done-this?n=35
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Old May 31, 2015   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squirrel789 View Post
I'm not sure how I can add structural elements at this point though, without doing some serious damage to the plants or their roots.
Sorry I wasn't clear, you would have to mix it in after this season is over. I'm just saying don't scrap your current mix, it's good and can be made excellent for next year.I recommend you concentrate your attention on the pests and diseases headed to a garden near you.

Regarding lime, I add dolomite lime at 1 TBS per gallon (1/2 cup per cubic foot) of my TOTAL soil volume, not just the peat percentage. Yes, it helps to raise the ph of peat, but its main function in my mix is to supply calcium and magnesium at a base level for each. My mix is 1/3 compost, which helps buffer the ph.

I used to add dolomite at 2 TBS per gallon religiously to a peat-based mix, but I now amend with several other mineral powders that have various amounts of available slow release calcium and magnesium. I like to top dress with crab shell meal to deter slugs, and crab shell meal is in my mix with fish bone meal, both of which provide calcium. Since I reuse my soil I don't want magnesium levels to get too high, so I am careful when I re-amend. I don't worry about the ratio too much though.

I just mixed a fresh 200 gallon batch with:

30% coarse vermiculite
30% sphagnum peat/coco fiber at 2:1
35% compost blend
5% biochar

Coarse vermiculite is fantastic for sub-irrigation mixes. It contributes to the structure I am looking for, holds water, and lasts for at least 3 years. I don't like perlite or pine bark for sub-irrigation. I'm not sure what I'm doing really counts as SWC since my reservoir has only water in it, no nutrient solution. And while I am growing in a soilless mix, it isn't an inert mix since it contains compost, clays and all the nutrients to which the plants have access. My soilless mix is my growing medium.

While it is somewhat tedious taking notes while creating a container mix, I measure all ingredients. I have half a dozen different mixes in use, and if one is doing incredible while others do not impress or the plants show poor performance, I want to know why, and be able to recreate a good mix.

Last edited by fonseca; May 31, 2015 at 03:26 AM.
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Old May 31, 2015   #39
squirrel789
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Thanks for the Reply Fonesca!

I appreciate you sharing your mix and the reasoning behind it, as it's very informative and helps me see what you are using and why. I realize there is no single perfect mix, because we all deal with a multitude of different variables in our gardens, but I love hearing what others are doing and why. I really do appreciate you taking the time to post all that info.

I'm learning more about mixes, and really like the idea creating my own recipe to suit my specific climate condition and all the many other variables. I am trying to gain a better and better understanding of how each component/amendment works and how it needs to balanced. Each year I hope to improve and try some different materials and ratios. I enjoy "dorking out" on this sort of thing because it deepens my understanding of how it all works together, instead of just buying a bagged mix (even the professional grade mixes that are probably great), or simply following another's recipe.

I also enjoy a little beer home-brewing, and I never use the kits or premixed recipes because for me that takes some of the fun out it. It may not be fool-proof and I've mad many mistakes along the way, but in the long run I learn more and that's what I like about it. So taking notes is something I've got no problem with

Since my primary containers are so large and the sunny portion of my patio isn't, I plan to add more smaller containers next year so I can try out some different concoctions. I will certainly share my successes or failures.

I am also learning that much of the advice I read needs to be taken with a grain of salt. It seems coarse vermiculite works well for you, then it might for me too. I shouldn't let another post that says it collapses or breaks down too quickly in their setup influence me too much. I've been over-analyzing a bit

Quote:
Originally Posted by fonseca View Post
Sorry I wasn't clear, you would have to mix it in after this season is over. I'm just saying don't scrap your current mix, it's good and can be made excellent for next year.I recommend you concentrate your attention on the pests and diseases headed to a garden near you.
Yeah, that was a silly misunderstanding on my part. And you are right, I need to learn more about pest control as I've already seen a couple of leaves that some little critter has eaten 3 or 4 little holes in (a bit smaller than BB). Only on the Cherokee purple and the Ultimate Openers though. My biggest fear is the forest full of squirrels around me. They haven't been interested in my gardens at all yet, and never disturbed my prior containers with those little "patio tomatoes",herbs, etc. but I hear they can be quite a nuisance to some people, so I guess I'll have to wait and see!

My previous in-ground tomato gardens were on a large scale compared to the methods I have to use now, so losing plants or getting a poor yield from some of the plants wasn't a big deal in the past. Now, I only have 12 plants total, but I can give them MUCH more close attention. Each plant carries a lot more significance to me now, and so I thank all those who have and and are still helping me learn more about how to give them what they need in containers!

Thanks again to the TV community! All thoughts, comments, criticisms, etc. are very appreciated.

Happy growing and best of luck with your gardens!

Last edited by squirrel789; May 31, 2015 at 07:09 PM.
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Old June 1, 2015   #40
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Hey squirrel! Fonesca uses practically the same mix you made. Of course this is tailored to a SWC so it's meant to be more moisture retentive. But, see, your mix is right up some people's alleys.

So productive in the garden today. But now I can hardly move LOL

Planted cukes, beans, Gold Nugget tomato, poppies, strawberries, spinach, herbs.... Maybe I should take an Epsom bath!
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Old June 1, 2015   #41
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There is no single perfect mix.
Yup! There are so many variables and different ingredients you can use, and adjusting ingredient ratios can have a huge effect on the properties of the final mix. If you like brewing you should be right at home! I used to be an all-grain snob myself. These days the only thing I brew is kombucha. I still grow 5 varieties of hops though. For science.

Here's what my stock tank #2 looks like right now. Suckered all 5 plants yesterday, leaving a few at the base for a second vine. I also removed any lower branches, not strictly necessary but it will be a jungle in a month anyway and I like to keep the top layer clear. Top-dressed with crab shell meal, neem seed meal, kelp and food grade diatomaceous earth, added an inch of compost and mixed lightly, before finally mulching with pine bark. I have a nutrient-rich layer at the top for feeder roots, and the neem and DE will hopefully deter insects.

The jute fabric over the PVC keeps mosquitoes out, while allowing air to circulate in the reservoir. The height of the water is adjustable (I have a 90 degree barb in the drain hole with ~3.5" of vertical plastic tube used as a water level gauge), and with the reservoir full I still have an inch of airspace. I really feel like my early failures with sub-irrigation were due to poor air circulation.

I look forward to seeing your plants loaded with tomatoes!
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Old June 1, 2015   #42
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nice looks good
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Old June 1, 2015   #43
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Fonesca,

Your setup looks awesome! The plants look healthy and I you've given me some good ideas about an issue I have just been outside dealing with.

Most of all, thank you for sharing the details of your setup. Seeing how other people are growing, especially in troughs, is not only extremely interesting, but so helpful as it gives me ideas I never would come up with on my own. Also, it looks like your plants are spaced far more sensibly than mine are I'd be curious to know how many vines from each plant do you typically let grow in a setup like this? I would also love to see some more pics as your plants progress, and definitely when loaded with tomatoes!

l think you just convinced me to give my plants a little "haircut" as well. I always used to do it when I grew tomatoes in-ground, but wasn't sure if the soil-less mix and mulch made it safer to leave those lower branches, and I thought the extra leafy branches might help them grow a bit faster. I guess there are bugs and bacteria everywhere though, so I think I'll lose the branches down close to the mulch. Plus, mine are getting big enough that the lower branches starting to get shaded from the upper ones anyway.

Due to the extremely tight plant spacing, I expect I might have to thin some foliage out even more as they grow to maintain ventilation, but I need to find the right balance to prevent inadequate photosynthesis and prevent sun scald. Even limiting to 2 vines per plant, I'm pretty sure some thinning will be necessary later in the season as things get too tight. I am hoping to figure how much foliage I can thin out when the plants are much bigger, with minimal detrimental effect. I got greedy this year, but depending on how it works out, I won't cram so many plants in my container next year. It was just so tempting to keep planting...

I went out to see if I could find what has been eating some holes in my plant leaves, and ended up getting sucked into hunting for and taking pics of lots of the different insects I found on my plants. I plan to post some of the better ones in the "Pests" section in a thread I started over there after I get them downloaded and resized. Hopefully at least some of the insects are beneficial or harmless, due to the sheer variety of different types I found. I think I'll be going to get some DE tomorrow. I don't know much about neem, but I'll check it out.

My wife is getting her PhD in plant science, but she works exclusively with grapes and their genetics, and doesn't take any interest in vegetable gardening; that's my department. Well, at least until its time to pick and eat them for dinner She brought me some Safer soap insect spray they use in the university greenhouse, but based on what she tells me and what I've read here, it has to sprayed directly on the pests to kill them and spraying all over the foliage wasn't recommended.

I'd prefer to take a more preventative approach with DE and perhaps the neem you mentioned. Any other suggestions from anyone would be appreciated.

I think I did find the culprit that's been chewing little round holes in some of my leaves while taking pictures tonight. All I had was a camera phone, but the patio lights are bright and I had a good flashlight, so I think I got some decent pics. Hopefully someone over in the Pest thread can help identify if its a flea beetle. I've only seen them online, but I think it fits the symptoms. If not I have plenty of other insect pics I hope can be identified and determine if they are problematic or not.

Anyway, It's getting to be time to post some more pics of the plants as they've been growing, but it has been so wet and cool here I am waiting for a few warm sunny days to give really help give them a growth spurt first.

As always. thanks for reading my post. I know I am long-winded sometimes.

I appreciate the thoughts, ideas, pics, and advice. It's always great to hear what others are doing in their gardens.

Cheers!
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Old June 1, 2015   #44
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fonseca, amazing! Thanks for sharing your trough setup. Would love to know even more about it; for instance, how did you create a screen for the bottom?

I notice you mention your past failures (plural!) before you started really getting it right. As Squirrel and I have been talking about, that's all part of the fun, right? (Even if it is a little heartbreaking sometimes...)

I am very sore from planting so much yesterday. But very pleased with what I got done.

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Old June 2, 2015   #45
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Hello All!

Wormgirl, I'm glad to hear you got so much planted in your garden! Unfortunately, even a labor of love like that can make for some sore muscles the next day. I hope you are recovering well At least you know it's well worth it! Do you plant exclusively in containers or have another type of garden as well? If growing vertically, I'd be very curious to see how you trellis your cukes if you feel like posting some pics sometime. I'm not that familiar with growing cukes, so I'm always curious. As we've discussed, there are so many great ideas to glean from how other people plan and build their gardens!

Quote:
I recommend you concentrate your attention on the pests and diseases headed to a garden near you.
Fonseca, you must be psychic! I have been inspecting my plants constantly since planting. All I've found was some fungus gnats in one of my smaller pots (used mosquito bits). Since your previous post however, I have found that I definitely have some unwanted pests out there. It's not too bad yet, but I'd like to control or eradicate them with some DE and/or neem before its a real problem. My only misgiving is that I've read both will kill the predatory insects too, but I haven't seen much sign of any if they're in the garden at all...

So, as I mentioned previously, I went out pest hunting last night I have an extremely bright patio light that illuminates both troughs very well. I usually leave it off (it's SO bright!), but with that light and a very bright flashlight, I could see all the parts of the plants quite well and checked them all over thoroughly and took some pics.

The pics are just from my phone so they aren't great, but since the insects were so tiny, I guess I can't expect too much from a cam phone. If interested, they are further down in this thread:

http://www.tomatoville.com/showthread.php?t=36829

While I didn't find any flea beetles last night, I found examples of several different insect species. There was an immature stink bug, identified in a post from Carolyn here at TV, 2 tiny green aphids, and some unidentified other little critters.

This morning, I checked my plants thoroughly again to find quite a few tiny green aphids on some of the plants. I'd say maybe 30-35% of the foliage had them on the underside of usually one or two of the leaves of those branches. They were all quite tiny and were either single or in pairs, but no huge groupings - at least not yet I really want to keep this from getting out of hand if possible.

I used the Safer insecticide soap as directed, and tonight there were definitely less than this morning, but I still found plenty of live ones out there. I knew I wouldn't get off that easy.

There were also a few more of the immature stink bugs like in the pics. I've seen what those can do as adults and want no part of it...

I know many use DE near or on top of the soil, but what about on the leaves themselves. I've read many recommendations to dust or spray it all over the foliage and entire plant, and apply around plants on the soil or mulch. This seems counter-intuitive to me since DE it is essentially tiny razer sharp particles. Wouldn't that damage the plant too? Perhaps the particles are too small, but I imagine thousands of tiny microscopic cuts in the leaves for pathogens to get a foothold. Am I being way too paranoid again? Any thoughts or opinions are very appreciated!

I am now also seriously considering a neem product as well, since nothing beneficial seems to be eating the pesky little buggers sucking on my leaves anyway.

I am leaving for a 4 day vacation at the end of this week, and I want to try to do something that might help while I'm not here to squish or spray the aphids myself. I'm not supposed to hit the plants with the soap again for a few days, so I'd like to try the DE and/or neem.

I would love to hear how it has worked in anyone else's gardens and how they applied it. Sure, there's a lot of info online about these products, but someone's personal experiences are worth far more.

Thanks as always for reading my long update and hopefully posting any thoughts or advice the great folks here at TV might have. I hope I can keep these little suckers at bay. I truly appreciate anyone's feedback or suggestions.

Cheers!
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