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Old March 2, 2006   #16
MsCowpea
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Earthboxes are very UV resistant--my oldest one is 8 years or so and ALWAYS out in the weather/sun year-round and no problems.

Though initially expensive they look like they will last a long long time.

Tim. very good post with lots of good information. Just one little nitpicky point--tomatoes actually don't prefer a pH above neutral. Depending on the source I have seen 5.8 to 6.5 as ideal , one extension brochure goes as high as 7 (neutral), another as low as 5.5. I think these are field pH requirements--container grown toms may tolerate a little higher as they are fertilized more frequently. (Though one greenhouse site I was reading said yield was reduced by 25% at 7 pH.) They adapt to even higher alkaline soils as I can attest but that is not the ideal as you must deal with minor element deficiencies with high pH.

Soilless mixes have to adjust pH to an ideal level as they contain sphagnum peat (3.0-4.0 pH) and/or bark (4.0 to 5.0 pH) which have acidic pH. From an ideal pH the mix becomes increasingly acid when organic matter breaks down over the season so that is another reason dolomite is added. I have read that a slow-release one would be even better.

Technical brochure on container soil as it relates to the nursery trade-(not everybodies cup of tea). This brochure also explains why it is not a good idea to add rocks/pot shards etc for additional drainage.
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/CN004
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Old March 2, 2006   #17
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MSCowpea,

Thanks for catching that, I knew that the adding Lime was to change the PH, I just forget which way is up on the PH scale. Excellent link too, Thanks!
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Old March 2, 2006   #18
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So one could use a soiless mix, or mix some compost, potting soil and maybe soiless mix for soil?

How much lime do you add, and do you mix it in with your soil or just sprinkle on top around the plant?
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Old March 5, 2006   #19
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Yes, you could use a good 1/3 Peat Moss, 1/3 Vermiculite, and 1/3 compost. Add two cups of lime, voila perfect tomato growing medium!
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Old March 7, 2006   #20
creister
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Do you think your recipe would work well for regular 5 gallon pots as well? Seems like it would to me.
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Old March 8, 2006   #21
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creister,

Probably.. not my recipe.. it got it from the Square foot Garden book. But a straight 5 gallon bucket without a reserviour , you don't get the fool proof watering of an earthbox.
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Old March 9, 2006   #22
valereee
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Default Al's Soil Recipe

Here's there recipe for Al's Soil:

3 cu ft pine bark fines (1 big bag)
5 gallons peat
5 gallons perlite
1 cup lime (you can add more to small portion if needed)
2 cups CRF, such as osmocote
1/2 cup micro-nutrient powder or 1 gal composted manure

His explanation of soil requirements for containers is here:

http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/...557203792.html
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Old March 9, 2006   #23
MikeInCypress
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Default Containers

Mischka,

The Sterolite containers you see at Big Lots and WalWart are usually 1/2 the price of the Rubbermaid Totes. They are thinner but I am using some for the 3rd year here in Trxas. I find the greatest danger to the containers is the string trimmer that we use to trim around the tomato patch, not ultraviolet degradation.

I have 12 10 gal ones set up for 2 plants each and 3 18 gal ones also set up for 2 of the bigger plants each. I love them. Last year I had Brandywine OTV, Brandy Boy, Yellow Brandywine, Burrackers Favorite and Neves Azorean Red in the 18 gal containers and SunGold, Snow White, Galinas, Black Cherry, Little Lucky
and a host of others in the 10 gal ones. Hope to have a few more this year.

Michael
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Old March 10, 2006   #24
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Well, if they can take the Texas sun for three seasons, I'll stop worrying about UV breakdown

Thanks for the info. :wink:
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Old March 10, 2006   #25
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Every so often HD here sells the Rubbermaid 18 gal totes for $3 each. Unfortunately I did not buy enough of them for my containers and the price went up. How much are the sterolite ones at Big Lots and Wal-Mart?

BTW, I have been reprimanded by a very knowledgeable source (THE actual source, actually) that Brandywine OTV should be OTV Brandywine (like Red/Yellow/Black Brandywine).

Chris, whose knuckles still ache from that ruler-rapping
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Old March 10, 2006   #26
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I'm very new here and unfortunatly a little late reading this thread. I'm very interested in your homemade earth boxs but the link to the instructions no longer works. Is anybody else having trouble with the link? This Earthbox deal might work very well to solve some of my space problems.

Thanks
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Old March 10, 2006   #27
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Dear Snappy,

I don't know how to link a PDF but if you can figure it out this still brings it up:

http://hometown.aol.com/jmalt31/myhomepage/Earthbox.PDF


Hey --it magic--works like a regular link.
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Old March 10, 2006   #28
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Thanks MsCowpea, worked like a charm. I'll bet I'll be building some of these in no time.
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Old March 14, 2006   #29
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I only grow tomatoes in containers (sort of)....

don't forget the self-watering containers from Gardeners.com....they work great, and hold more water than the real EB. sometimes they are on sale (I sure didn't pay $30 for mine!!!). I (and NancySil) use a PVC cage on these (her design). my challenge this year is to make them hurricane proof, which I think I am accomplishing.

WallyWorld had a big round SW container last year for about $10 that worked great....same problem as the EB in that it didn't hold much water (less than the EB, in fact). but it holds LOTS of potting mix, and the maters love them.

the 14" self watering container from Johnnyseeds.com works great - about a 7 gallon container. I use the burpee cages on these, strapped into place with plastic ties.

I also made some self watering containers last year from nested wallboard joint compound buckets - contractors are usually delighted if you haul them away. these are about 4 1/2 gallons, with about a gallon of water in the wicking area (I use plastic cups with holes in them, will last for another year!). these are definitely the low-cost winners. for a cage, the good quality conical ones from Ace work great (the only place they are worth anything): you need to strap them into place and give them form with plastic ties. the legs go INSIDE the container.

Michael in Hampstead, NC

P.S. the "sort of" is that I have one raised bed, which I don't recommend: It has been a CHOW CALL for all the moles in the neighborhood. tomatoes grow great, though. in fact, any container where the roots can grow outside the container calls the moles. I found an azalea yesterday where the mole went INSIDE the container for dinner! no wonder it wasn't doing so well.

the other sort of is that I have used bags of potting mix with slits on the bottom side and the plant stuck in the top side on an x slit. I used a 32 qt MG Moisture control bag last year and it worked great....but the same chow call to the moles....
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Old March 14, 2006   #30
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jmhewitt, I would be interest in seeing photos of your creations!
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