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

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Old April 6, 2018   #1
AlittleSalt
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Default Containers Growing ?

I really didn't come up with a good title, but this is the thread that I am going to use for asking questions and showing results - being if they're good, bad, or ugly.

As many of you know, this is my first year of seriously growing in containers. There are 10 five gallon buckets. Seven of the buckets will have Pro Mix and will be watered/fertilized with the MasterBlend/PowerGrow kit. I had originally planned on only those 7 buckets, but yesterday, I found a deal on Nature's Care potting mix. Three big bags for $15.75 total. Why not give it a try too, and 10 buckets fits the area better aesthetically.

My first question is about spacing. Most of what I'm growing are big plant sized cherry tomato varieties like Sungold, Ambrosia Orange UBX, Porter, etc... What you see in the pictures is spaced 4' apart. What do you think - too close - too far apart? The spacing does look good.
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Old April 6, 2018   #2
beasl004
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Spacing looks fine to me. Just be aware that the roots will grow out of the bottom of the buckets and into the soil. The first year I used 5 gal buckets I lined the inside with weed barrier. The roots grew through it like it wasn't even there and anchored the buckets to the ground.
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Old April 6, 2018   #3
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Looks good to me, Salt. I grow my maters in the ground, but all my peppers are in containers. I've got 11, 25( ?) gal feed tubs, plus the 2 old wheelbarrows. Works good for me...
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Old April 6, 2018   #4
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Robert, my Isles are 4-5 feet apart, but plants are less than two feet, but I am a strict pruner. Two plants per 5 gallon container is what you are looking at here, they will be 15-20 foot vines by October.
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Old April 6, 2018   #5
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Mark, that's impressive and beautiful. Shows a lot of work and thought.
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Old April 6, 2018   #6
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Quote:
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Mark, that's impressive and beautiful. Shows a lot of work and thought.
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Old April 6, 2018   #7
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I would say space them the same as you would if they were in the ground.

As for what to fill them with, take a page out of nctomatoman's (Craig's) book and go with a combination or potting mix and bagged composted manure (I think it's 3/4 mix to 1/4 composted manure, or maybe 2/3 to 1/3...). Both are readily available at big box stores and likely Walmart as well. Before switching to Wondersoil (coir) for ease of storage and transport, I had great results with Craig's mix.

And like was said before, if you don't put something impenetrable between the buckets and the ground the roots will find their way into the soil. If there is disease in the soil, your plants will be vulnerable to it. I think Marsha recently posted a picture where she was using the empty potting soil bags under her pots/pails to create a barrier.
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Old April 7, 2018   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Father'sDaughter View Post
I would say space them the same as you would if they were in the ground.

As for what to fill them with, take a page out of nctomatoman's (Craig's) book and go with a combination or potting mix and bagged composted manure (I think it's 3/4 mix to 1/4 composted manure, or maybe 2/3 to 1/3...). Both are readily available at big box stores and likely Walmart as well. Before switching to Wondersoil (coir) for ease of storage and transport, I had great results with Craig's mix.

And like was said before, if you don't put something impenetrable between the buckets and the ground the roots will find their way into the soil. If there is disease in the soil, your plants will be vulnerable to it. I think Marsha recently posted a picture where she was using the empty potting soil bags under her pots/pails to create a barrier.
We were writing at the same time, so I didn't see your post until after I had posted. The part in your reply that I put in bold I will address tomorrow. It is an extremely important part in how I am going to grow these ten tomato plants.

I would write about it tonight, but my house is quiet - grandmonsters asleep - Son and DIL asleep - Jan is asleep... it's the best relaxation music ever.
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Old April 7, 2018   #9
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I'm very curious to see your results with the nature's care potting mix. I too bought it because it was on sale and I've had a helluva time with it this year, also my first year container gardening. My problems were with root aphids, fungus gnats, and spider mites. Could be my location is S FL and where/how it was stored at HD. Second issue I had was with it being very heavy and poorly draining. I've since moved everything to containers with pro-mix HP and it seemed like within days of transplanting, my plants just took off. I certainly hope you gave better luck than I did.
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Old April 6, 2018   #10
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There are some things I am factoring in by the 4' spacing. The prevailing winds during most of the year are from Southeast and Southwest. The row of plants are Southeast to Northwest which means the air circulation isn't optimal. The southeast winds are humid off of the Gulf of Mexico. The southwest winds are from Mexico - the desert - that go through Austin (State capitol) picking up even more dry hot air

Amount of sunlight is important too. I wish they could get more early morning sun, but the huge oak tree to the east is more important to me than the tomato plants. (I know "Tomatoville" - not treeville, but tomatoes grow for part of one year - oak trees grow for 100+ years.)

Here is my intended list the buckets, and so far, everything looks good to plant out around April 15th.

1. Ambrosia Orange UBX - grown in the Nature's Care potting mix.
2. Black Krim or Japanese Pink Cherry grown in the Nature's Care potting mix for comparison.
3. Gargamel - a very interesting good tasting tomato that I want to share seeds of.
4. Garnet
5. Japanese Pink Cherry - excellent taste.
6. Medovaya Kaplya - excellent taste. Only 1 plant available.
7. Porter or another Gargamel grown in the Nature's Care potting mix for comparison.
8. Suncherry Extra Sweet F1 - Only 1 plant available.
9. Sungold F1 - Only 1 plant available.
10. Yellow Riesentraube - Only 1 plant available.

I left out the details part about the Yellow Riesentraube. I want to grow it more for the seeds. It does taste good, but how it came to be a variety is very interesting to me, and is why I want to grow it and share seeds.
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Last edited by AlittleSalt; April 6, 2018 at 11:58 PM. Reason: Yellow Riesentraube
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Old April 8, 2018   #11
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DocBrock, that's the first thing I noticed. The bags are heavy and wet. It says with "Water Conserve" This is from Walmart.com:

About this Item
Disclaimer: While we aim to provide accurate product information, it is provided by manufacturers, suppliers and others, and has not been verified by us. See our disclaimer.


Thirsty plants are mopey plants and keeping them hydrated starts from the ground up. The moisture holding power comes from nature, with cool things like yucca and coir. Available in the following sizes: 8 qt., 32 qt.
Miracle-Gro Nature's Care Organic Potting Soil with Water Conserve, 8 qt:
  • Overview and Benefits:
    • Available sizes: 8 qt., 32 qt
    • Absorbs like a sponge to protect against over and under watering
    • Thirsty plants are mopey plants and keeping them hydrated starts from the ground up
    • The moisture holding power comes from nature, with cool things like yucca and coir
  • Packaging:
    • Bag
  • This is not the product label, always read and follow the product label before use

Warnings:

California Proposition 65 Warning: WARNING: This product may contain chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer andbirth defects or other reproductive harm.

I'll share an online picture of the bag.

I have the same problem as southern Florida gardeners have with RKN and add in Fusarium Wilt race 3. The buckets will have plastic over the top to keep out the soil diseases as best as I can.

I appreciate the info about root aphids, fungus gnats, and spider mites. I need to treat this mix before planting in it. I will do that with the pro mix too. I use a product called Garden Safe. It kills fire ants and supposedly 250 garden and lawn pests/insects.
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Old April 8, 2018   #12
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What I just posted probably made at least one my friends here at Tomatoville cringe. Yes, I know how you feel about MG. I need to experience it myself trying it my way in my neck of the woods. That's why I'm trying it in those 3 buckets with two extra plants and one I didn't really care for the first time I grew it.
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Old April 8, 2018   #13
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Father'sDaughter, it is quiet in my house again - that's why I post so late. I can think, and don't have grandchildren asking me 1,000 questions per minute, adult children talking, and my wife telling me everything about her job. It's my time to relax.

Now, I can finally answer what you wrote about. I am going to take Worth's advice. My "Something impenetrable between the buckets and the ground" is no holes in the buckets. There will be plastic on top of the buckets and I will be watering them - not nature by means of rainfall. The 73+ inches of rain in 2015 taught me that too much water ruins tomatoes taste. The way I want to grow in these containers means I get to control the amount of water and fertilizer they get. I know many will disagree.
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Old April 8, 2018   #14
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Salt, will you have drain holes? At the sides an inch or 2 above the bottom? You're not just going to leave water to stagnate in the pots are you?

That MG water conserve is death. But you'll see.....
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Old April 8, 2018   #15
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Salt, will you have drain holes? At the sides an inch or 2 above the bottom? You're not just going to leave water to stagnate in the pots are you?

That MG water conserve is death. But you'll see.....
Marsha, as I bought it - the words I spoke were, "I just wasted $16."

The only way I can see and share pictures/results is to try it myself.

I'm still not sure about the drain holes.
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