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

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Old June 2, 2015   #46
luigiwu
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Squirrel, you seem like a very avid container gardening student. I'm curious what 'type' / 'methods' have you been looking at , taking cues from.

I found my first pests (before this insane torrential monsoon came) - aphids on my eggplants and treated it with soapy water spray.
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Old June 2, 2015   #47
wormgirl
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Squirrel, as requested here's a pic of last year's cukes. This is a pic from midseason - they totally outgrew the trellis later. It worked GREAT!!
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Old June 2, 2015   #48
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Oh and I'm all in containers or bags that this point, with one exception - I have this rose planted in the ground. It's planted over where my dear kitty is buried.

I might put it in a pot, because it's in the way of the tomatoes
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Old June 3, 2015   #49
squirrel789
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Luigiwu,

First off, I have always loved good, home-grown tomatoes, and they were a staple of every summer I can remember. Honestly, I guess I tried to model my trough gardens after the only tomato-growing experience I had, which was the big in-ground tomato garden I used to help my dad plant and tend to when I could. He is older and I did most of the work, but rarely found the time to drive hours away to the farm to tend them all that well. Obviously, there are many differences with my current setup I didn't really study any one particular method, but just searched the web for info/ideas and tried to sift the good advice from the bad, and come to my own conclusions. Not very scientific, I know. I looked at urban farming, SFG methods, container methods (though mostly found info for much smaller containers than I'm using), and was intrigued by growing tomatoes in a small and controlled environment, where the variables could be tweaked, controlled, and ultimately made better. I just tried to put together a plan I thought might work, instead of exactly copying what someone else was doing, as ignorant as that might sound.

Like with cooking, I'm not a huge fan of recipes, but I like to read lots of them, learn what I can from their basic ideas, and piece something together I can call my own that might work or might not, or be even better if I'm really lucky. Again, not always the smartest, nor most productive method.

I have made many mistakes, but I have also learned so much more than I knew even a month ago. Then I found this forum, and I started to see people talking and giving real-life advice to each other, instead of one page articles by people giving bad container-growing advice. Google "how to grow tomatoes on your patio", and you'll see what I mean. When I started with a search like that, I think that first site was the Bonnie website... I didn't want their not-so-tasty, miniature patio tomato from HDepot that already has green tomatoes when you buy it and a 3' flimsy plastic cage. I was hoping for something more like the farm, and hoped that with some vertical, intensive, and SFG ideas mixed in I could make work it in the modest space I had.

After reading through many of the topics. I joined TV, which is first forum I've ever joined, so that says something. Now I am learning all sorts of helpful things, and seeing methods I haven't seen before. I appreciate how much people here are willing to share their advice, pics, and their methods, and the forum is very friendly to newbies, and genuinely try to help. I have so many things I want to try differently next year. Thanks!

I know my long posts and numerous questions are undoubtedly annoying to some, or perhaps many, but my understanding of container gardening and tomatoes in general has grown immensely thanks to the people here on the TV forum. I am willing to learn through trial and error, for better or worse - which I'll admit isn't the most productive idea, but I think it might be the most educational.

My first error was assuming that, like our huge field garden of tomatoes, I could plant some of my favorite varieties (some heirloom, all indeterminate) and they would generally do well. I didn't think enough about the few plants that got eaten by pests or yielded poorly, because we had so many plants, there was always an abundance to eat, can, freeze or make salsa with. It was more of a quantity over quality method I suppose.

Well, the farm tomato garden can't be planted anymore due to my dad's health and so I'm trying it with the modest space I have that gets enough sun. I am a bit obsessive about things I'm interested in, and wanted to garden at my own house. Since I can work mostly from home, I can tend to my plants whenever I want and prune, water, fertilize, make my own growing medium, etc. Previously, I could only visit the farm maybe once every other week (or whenever work allowed) to prune too little too late and tie up the sagging plants to the cattle panels. Still, we had a lot of good tomatoes.

Now I have only a few plants, and I get to micro-manage them. This alone has taught me a lot, but I know there is so much still I need to learn. So, the simple answer to your question is: I guess I just read a lot of stuff online and sort of dove in, putting together the trough plan for its size and depth for roots, and I'm learning as I go along.

Sorry Luigiwu, I'm sure that was way more info than you were asking for!

As for my pest problems, soapy insecticide just didn't work on my aphids for than a day. I am going for DE all over the bed and mulch, but not on the foliage. I know pathogens and viruses enter through cuts, scrapes, bites, and other injuries in a plant's outer defenses, and so covering the leaves with razor-sharp particles just doesn't seem right to me. For the pests on the foliage I plan to try a pyrethrin/canola oil spray and see what happens. If I find the immature stink bugs can't dealt with by the DE or spray, I have some pyrethrin/sulfer/copper dust I plan to put around the base of the plants, as this might prevent the young ones from climbing the plant in the first place. If that doesn't work, maybe I'll just go through and pick them off and drown them in an old coffee can like my dad used to do (he did the same thing with the giant green hornworms). At least I've got a less plants to pick them off now

Wormgirl, thanks for the pics and I cant wait to see what happens this year! I like idea of the rosebush. I have a cat too, and I'm sorry for your loss, but the roses are a nice touch

Cheers!
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Old June 7, 2015   #50
biscuitridge
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Default Just another idea

The planter box is 30" x 96" ,insulated sides and good water drainage out the bottom, it holds 5 indeterminate grafted heirloom tomatoes clipped to strings, watered with a soaker hose on a timer.
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Old June 7, 2015   #51
wormgirl
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Wow, beautiful garden and awesome tomato planter! Is that your own design?
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Old June 7, 2015   #52
JamesL
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wormgirl View Post
Wow, beautiful garden and awesome tomato planter! Is that your own design?
+1! I assume you need to harvest with a ladder?
Definitely want (no, need) to see a pic when it is fully grown in.
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Old June 7, 2015   #53
biscuitridge
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Thanks for your kind words, yes it's my design, and so far I haven't needed a ladder, I'm rather tall so it works for me.
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Old June 8, 2015   #54
biscuitridge
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A couple of pictures later in the season. Tomatoes cliped onto string, and veiw of some of our gardens and movable greenhouse that slides on rails
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Old June 8, 2015   #55
fonseca
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Biscuitridge, that is a very well-thought out planter! Nice trellis design.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wormgirl View Post
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 use 4" corrugated HDPE drainage pipe for the reservoir, topped with 2 layers of quality weed fabric. It's the one with lots of small slits in it, which allows for airflow. There are a lot of ways to create a reservoir and wick(s). The wick in this tank is 4-6" wide and 1.5' long, and the wicking medium is coarse sand. I combined additional coarse sand with my soilless mix so there is no sudden transition between the materials. It has worked great for 2 years.

I am considering purchasing HDPE peg board and laying that down over the corrugated pipe (would need less pipe to support it), and then use 3-6 net pots as wicks depending on size. This could let me fine tune the system. I don't have any complaints, however I rely on the weed fabric to not tear and let sand into the reservoir. It's going to break down eventually.

Before I tried sub-irrigation I was growing in stock tanks with lots of drain holes like squirrel789. I left half a dozen 100 gallon stock tanks at my previous home, as they had well-established dwarf japanese maples and other ornamentals that had been growing in the same mix for 5 years, actual soil with gravel, sharp sand, clays and horse manure. If you paint them, they can make an attractive installation that your neighbors will envy, while avoiding many pest and disease problems you get when growing in the ground.

Apologies for the low quality photo, but this is how I built the reservoirs in my 100 gallon tanks, 20 and 27 gallon tubs:
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Old June 8, 2015   #56
biscuitridge
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FONSECA- Do you have any pictures of tomatoes growing in your set-up? I've tried a self watering system but could not get the same or better results as in ground growing, as you can see in the picture my plants get 8 to 10 feet tall with loads of big beautiful heirloom organic tomatoes. If yours works I'd be interested in trying it.
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Old June 8, 2015   #57
wormgirl
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biscutridge - I think some parts of the world (hot parts) do better with self watering setups than others. And, in some places, it's easier to grow in containers.

Which side of the mountains are you on? It looks like possibly the east side?

I want to know more about this movevable greenhouse! Does it move to capture the sun as the year progresses? Or to protect certain crops as needed? Fascinating!

fonseca - thanks for showing that - I had not see that type of design before. Interesting that you use sand as the wick, that's also something I hadn't heard of. It sounds like you enjoy making and tweaking your designs!
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Old June 8, 2015   #58
biscuitridge
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Here's a little more about the movable greenhouse, it's 14 x 20 and it's made out of 1-3/8" chain link top rail,it slides on 2 x 12 lumber that is bolted to fencing U channel set in concrete. It has thermostatically controlled vents and fan,vents open via damper controller, shelves on north side are in the folded down position in picture ,that's where the heat mats and flats go in late winter,also has automatic drip system installed, I remove most of the end polycarbonate end panels when it gets really hot like today ,it was 100 degrees and they stay off until fall,the whole idea of a movable greenhouse is so you avoid buildup of diseases in the soil and as you can see it works,this is year 5 or 6. This is not a kit,they are to spendy for me, this costs about $1500.00 to build.
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Old June 8, 2015   #59
biscuitridge
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Oopps I forgot to mention about the act maker it's 3 five gal. water jugs and one 50 gal. barrel, it works on the vortex principal, that air pump can do the 3 small ones or the one big one but it does not have enough air to do all at the same time.
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Old June 9, 2015   #60
wormgirl
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I thought that looked like compost tea! Wow, you should start a thread showing this! That's amazing.

Squirrel, I'm sorry we hijacked your thread
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