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

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Old May 3, 2018   #121
bower
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It certainly is an interesting experiment.
In my greenhouse, a tomato plant in a 5 gallon bucket will need to be watered every day once the plant is any size at all. The pots are quite filled with roots before the short season is over, and they suck up the moisture in no time if the sun is shining. Maybe some runs out the drain holes but not a big lot IMO.
Water requirements, and the ability to suck up and retain a certain amount of even moisture, varies quite a bit depending on the size and shape of a container, as well as the type of mix in the container.
I agree with Marsha about the anaerobic issue. That may not be a problem if you use the drain hole/sight tube to drain away excess whenever you water. But as Worth was saying, if you bury the pots halfway, you pretty much have written off that drainage possibility, if I understand it correctly.
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Old May 3, 2018   #122
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Yes Bower you have to have a way to drain if there is too much water.
I have no idea if it will work in a 5 gallon bucket.
Last year I posted the whole operation here and explained everything.
I'm sure many of the naysayers never looked.
You know me well enough to know I wont accept many things as fact until I see it for myself.'
Some of us accept conventional wisdom without question some of us dont.
Thank goodness for like minded people or we wouldn't be were we are today, we would still be in the stone age.
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Old May 3, 2018   #123
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Here is your anaerobic tomato plants.
Been doing this for 15 years in one way or another.
Worth
IMG_20180503_21742.jpg
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Old May 3, 2018   #124
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Worth, quite some years ago I discovered that the aloes I grow in my house preferred a pot with no drainage holes. The indoor environment is very dry and they are watered infrequently but that is what they like, as well as sand in the soil. Do these pots become anaerobic? No I don't think so. Why because the soil which is usually dry also shrinks back leaving a hollow space where air circulates. A dry soil has air space next to the pot surface whether you can immediately notice it or not. Water is in that space infrequently, and if there's extra that pools in the bottom it doesn't harm the roots due to air being freely available from the sides.

Some of my 40 gal fishtubs don't have designed drainholes either. There are some breaks in the plastic that provide 'accidental' drainage but by no means the standard "holes per area". The volume of soil is enough though, that adequate watering for the tomatoes doesn't ever create a saturated anaerobic condition. With a big volume of soil, water "seeks its own level" I mean it becomes evenly distributed in the soil. The flat rectangle shape has a big surface area too for any excess to evaporate.

You would only get anaerobic conditions if the container was truly waterlogged, with standing water in the bottom for hours, and more than the plants can take up for their needs in a short space of time. Maybe the shape also plays a role in that, so for example a steep sided, narrow but deep pot might be more troublesome because of a small surface area for evaporation, or maybe a less effective 'air exchange' space on the sides.
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Old May 3, 2018   #125
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I am thinking along the same lines Bower.

The plants look really good Worth.
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Old May 3, 2018   #126
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My biggest concern would be contamination of your pots with the diseases you are trying to avoid. I don't know how easy it is to spread. In a heavy down pour could there be splash back into your pots from the ground? In windy conditions is ground soil more likely to get into your pots and contiminate them? I would just want to keep the top of those pots as far above that contaminated ground as possible. Just a thought. You might also consider burrying some and leaving some fully above ground the first year and see how they each do.
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Old May 3, 2018   #127
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SueCT View Post
My biggest concern would be contamination of your pots with the diseases you are trying to avoid. I don't know how easy it is to spread. In a heavy down pour could there be splash back into your pots from the ground? In windy conditions is ground soil more likely to get into your pots and contiminate them? I would just want to keep the top of those pots as far above that contaminated ground as possible. Just a thought. You might also consider burrying some and leaving some fully above ground the first year and see how they each do.
Sue, our thinking is on the same page. I did test with 5 gallon buckets leaving them on the ground. I didn't bury any of them half way. The splash-up goes up 3/4 the way. I also testing using mulch around buckets and there was no splash-up that I ever noticed.

Today, I was going to buy the rest of the No Float Cypress mulch I need, but a thunderstorm came through and a power grid went down. The store (Walmart) was closed because of that. When we got home, I looked at the buckets and the same results were obvious. The 8 buckets with cypress mulch around them looked untouched. The other 4 had soil splashed up on them about 3/4 the way up.

As for dust blowing in - I really don't have an answer.

This year is more about testing different mixes and just learning about container gardening in general. I am hoping to be able to afford earth boxes this year, but I don't count chickens before they hatch....and the buckets may work out fine? The only way for me to learn is by doing it.
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Old May 4, 2018   #128
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlittleSalt View Post
Sue, our thinking is on the same page. I did test with 5 gallon buckets leaving them on the ground. I didn't bury any of them half way. The splash-up goes up 3/4 the way. I also testing using mulch around buckets and there was no splash-up that I ever noticed.

Today, I was going to buy the rest of the No Float Cypress mulch I need, but a thunderstorm came through and a power grid went down. The store (Walmart) was closed because of that. When we got home, I looked at the buckets and the same results were obvious. The 8 buckets with cypress mulch around them looked untouched. The other 4 had soil splashed up on them about 3/4 the way up.

As for dust blowing in - I really don't have an answer.

This year is more about testing different mixes and just learning about container gardening in general. I am hoping to be able to afford earth boxes this year, but I don't count chickens before they hatch....and the buckets may work out fine? The only way for me to learn is by doing it.
Salt Earthbox always has the best offer of the year for black Friday, day after Thanksgiving. If you get the money and are able, please consult with me to let me guide you on getting the biggest practical bang for your buck, because full kits are ridiculously overpriced. What you need is just the actual Earthbox itself. The rest of the stuff you can get from a cheaper source.
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Old May 4, 2018   #129
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All the tubs are on a slope with the sight tubes on the lower side.
Most of the time I dont water till the soil starts to shrink away from the sides a wee bit like Bower said.
I am not a watering person like some people are who think the more you water the faster things will grow.

Last summer even with about 4 inches of water in the bottom it would get sucked up in no time.
This whole project started with an experiment on how to grow water loving jungle plants in this area and conserve water.
In this heat you simply cant grow in conventional smaller containers and have a job.
Not unless it is a huge container.

Next if you introduce bacteria from manures and so forth in the containers all bets are off, I dont do that because in my opinion you could create a sewer.
Yet no one bothered to ask that question they just told, assumed and didn't ask.
Nor did anyone ask about me letting out water every now and then to purge the soil.
Or they didn't follow what I said because their minds closed up the minute I said what I was doing.

My best advice to you Salt is to not blindly follow conventional wisdom all the time and think outside the box or better yet stay out of the box.
Don't be afraid to fail and dont be afraid to sail off the ends of the flat earth, it may not be flat.
We live in what was once called the New World.
A place that didn't exist at one time, India was just over the horizon and even mentioning the world revolved around the sun would get you strung up from a pole.

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Old May 4, 2018   #130
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Robert, here's a self watering 5 gallon bucket set up. I made one 2 years ago and it works great. As a matter of fact I set it outside the greenhouse this winter and 2 tomato plants came up and are growing good. I did water it twice once I saw plants were growing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AlWGQIMHok
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Old May 8, 2018   #131
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Last Thursday, I was ready to use the 4-28-38 / 15.5-0-0 Calcium Nitrate / Magnesium Sulfate full strength, but it rained 2.5" that day, and 2.7" Friday. It has been dry since then and is Tuesday now 12:15 AM. I never saw any runoff from the holes in the buckets.

I should explain my setup better. There are 4 rows of 5 five gallon buckets. Rows one and two have 3/4" holes drilled in them an inch from the bottom = 10 tomato plants.

Rows three and four do not have holes drilled in them. Row three has 2 buckets of tomato plants, three buckets with squash growing two plants per bucket (From seed). Row 4 is five buckets of one okra plant each (From seed.)

This is where more confusion sets in. Row 4 with the five buckets of okra is fertilized with 10-10-10.

Rows one though three, I am using the 4-28-38 / 15.5-0-0 Calcium Nitrate / Magnesium Sulfate.

I'm not used to growing in containers, but I understand that artificial mx needs a lot of help.

I do have tomato plants growing in the RKN/Fusarium Wilt race three natural soil. Those plants are a whole lot bigger. You would wonder why I would want to grow in buckets of artificial mix if I took pictures today.

No pictures yet, I still have a lot of setup to do before I will take pictures.
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Old May 8, 2018   #132
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Salt I hope all goes well.
Be reminded the buckets without holes have to have a sight tube or you may or may not have success.
At any given time they are over watered they will need to be drained.
As time goes by you will be able to tell how much if any water goes in each one of them.
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Old May 8, 2018   #133
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What water are you using... for watering?
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Old May 8, 2018   #134
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What water are you using... for watering?
They have been planted out two weeks now. I used regular tap water when planting them. Our local water comes from wells in the Trinity river water basin. The tap water is soft here.

I used 4-18-38 / 15.5-0-0 Calcium Nitrate / Magnesium Sulfate at half strength to water once, and rainfall has watered since then. Today, I need to check the mix to see if it needs watered - if so, I will use the 4-28-38 / 15.5-0-0 Calcium Nitrate / Magnesium Sulfate at full strength.

After that, I need to ask questions about how often to water with regular tap water and when to use the 4-18-38 / 15.5-0-0 Calcium Nitrate / Magnesium Sulfate to water with.

The two week planted tomato plants are larger than if I had planted them in ground which is a positive sign in my eyes.
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Last edited by AlittleSalt; May 8, 2018 at 08:55 PM. Reason: typo
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Old May 8, 2018   #135
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Salt I hope all goes well.
Be reminded the buckets without holes have to have a sight tube or you may or may not have success.
At any given time they are over watered they will need to be drained.
As time goes by you will be able to tell how much if any water goes in each one of them.
First, thank you.

I do understand that I may need to drain the buckets. I just hope it doesn't happen when there are 8' tall okra plants in them
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