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

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Old February 24, 2016   #16
PureHarvest
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Originally Posted by Ed of Somis View Post
In general, I find there are some folks who enjoy doing science experiments as much as growing tomatoes. I get that it could be fun. haha. However, my "common sense" approach to vegetable gardening (and tomatoes) usually works out fine...with a little knowledge/experience mixed in. My seedlings have been growing fine with a quality potting mix or seed starter mix....either one. Part of the fun of doing anything (in my opinion) is getting better. This is where knowledge/experience/science comes in. The journey is the fun!
I agree with you. Results are results. I always say go with what works for you if u are pleased with your outcome.
However there are too many folks that struggle to get results with gardening. They usually read the regurgitated, form letter style advice to test for pH and add lime or sulfur to adjust pH as needed to get to some magic number between 6 and 7.
In reality, pH is influenced by four major cations (elements with a + charge): calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium.
Extremely high sodium will cause high pH. Potassium will influence pH even more than C or Mg!
Once all nutrients required are supplied and balanced, the pH will be right.
Or stated differently, "good" pH does not guarantee a balanced soil.

Now to the point of container mixes. Am I saying everyone needs to test their mix? No, that is probably too much for most hobbyists. But you need to consider that peat mixes have limestone added to balance the acidity of the peat. What kind of limestone? What calcium and how much are you adding? What effect will my nitrogen program have on calcium? It gets complicated in a hurry.
So, my suggestion is to ask people that have used a precise formula over the years and match that with results that you will be happy with and copy it. Don't mess with it unless you know what you are doing or want to try it on a small scale.

Urban, we are an agreement. Well said.
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Old February 24, 2016   #17
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Well I am still going to use vinegar to keep my pH low it works great.
My city water is frigging loaded with calcium.
The plants are happy the worms are happy and I'm happy..
Worth
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Old February 24, 2016   #18
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As far as matching results.
I like the build out of larry's gutter grow system.
But in pics and videos I've seen, most of the plants look sickly and weak.
Then I have seen a few that were robust with healthy green foliage and abundant fruit.
I don't recall the username here, but there was a guy from NY that had pics from last season that had NICE looking stuff using the gutter grow system. I'd want to know exactly what his soil mix was. And his fert program. Bonus points if he knew a little about his source water.
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Old February 24, 2016   #19
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Well I am still going to use vinegar to keep my pH low it works great.
My city water is frigging loaded with calcium.
The plants are happy the worms are happy and I'm happy..
Worth
Stick with what works!

Do u go through a lot of vinegar in a season?
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Old February 24, 2016   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PureHarvest View Post
As far as matching results.
I like the build out of larry's gutter grow system.
But in pics and videos I've seen, most of the plants look sickly and weak.
Then I have seen a few that were robust with healthy green foliage and abundant fruit.
I don't recall the username here, but there was a guy from NY that had pics from last season that had NICE looking stuff using the gutter grow system. I'd want to know exactly what his soil mix was. And his fert program. Bonus points if he knew a little about his source water.

This feller.
http://www.tomatoville.com/showpost....17&postcount=2
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Old February 24, 2016   #21
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Here are the links.
I have a great memory.
If I need advice I will ask him if I ever decide to do it.
http://www.tomatoville.com/showthread.php?t=35960
http://www.tomatoville.com/showthread.php?t=37141
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Old February 24, 2016   #22
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Originally Posted by PureHarvest View Post
Stick with what works!

Do u go through a lot of vinegar in a season?
About 1 to 2 gallons a year maybe less.
Orhto dial and spray full of 5% set on 6 or 8 oz per gallon.
The soil foams the first application of the spring.

Worth
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Old February 24, 2016   #23
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That looks right.
I think there was someone else too.
I like picture evidence. My version of success is different than others'.
I think people, me included, sometimes get hung up on the coolness of a contraption/system, it's parts, and the operation of it. But look at the plants too!
I recall an aquaponic set up I saw pics of. The structure was beautiful. The plants were spindly and looked pathetic. Not to mention the plant density in the greenhouse was abysmal. All that infrastructure for a handful of sorry plants. But everyone oohed and ahhhhed over the system because it looked cool and was recycling organic nutrients!
Basically, be careful who you copy. Think about what you are doing in why.
And when in doubt, ask Worth! Seriously, 17,000 plus posts aren't 10,000 of 'OK' or 'thanks' type replies!

Last edited by PureHarvest; February 24, 2016 at 09:22 PM.
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Old February 24, 2016   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PureHarvest View Post
That looks right.
I think there was someone else too.
I like picture evidence. My version of success is different than others'.
I think people, me included, sometimes get hung up on the coolness of a contraption/system, it's parts, and the operation of it. But look at the plants too!
I recall an aquaponic set up I saw pics of. The structure was beautiful. The plants were spindly and looked pathetic. Not to mention the plant density in the greenhouse was abysmal. All that infrastructure for a handful of sorry plants. But everyone oohed and ahhhhed over the system because it looked cool and was recycling organic nutrients!
Basically, be careful who you copy. Think about what you are doing in why.
And when in doubt, ask Worth! Seriously, 17,000 plus posts aren't 10,000 of 'OK' or 'thanks' type replies!
Don't ask me I am still learning and I planted enough plants this year to kill a few experimenting.
So far I haven't killed anything.

If I end up with all of them I will use them in shade and soil experiments around the place.

Worth
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Old February 24, 2016   #25
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Great topic and comments. Any reliable pH meters one recommends
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Old February 25, 2016   #26
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Jpop, just remember, pH does not tell you the whole story.
It's like using a thermometer to diagnose why you don't feel well.

Patient: "Dr., I took my temperature reading. It was 100 degrees. What do I have?"
Dr: "I have no way of knowing without more info. Your temp reading is a symptom, not a cause."

So, a pH test can be helpful, because it will tell you if you are waaaaay out of whack to clue you in on a nutrient imbalance, but you will still be left wondering what that actually is.
You can't just assume that a pH below 6.5 will need limestone. Then I would ask you what type of limestone will you need, dolomitic (lots of Mg with the C), or calcitic (little Mg with the C)? Are you gonna use calcium nitrate?
Then their is your source water. Look at Worth's example earlier with high calcium water...
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Old February 25, 2016   #27
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Here is a recent soil sample I am working on:

test sample.JPG

The cations here are well balanced. And, when I look at the pH, low and behold, it is...6.4
Lime had not been applied to this ground in 2 years according to the owner.

You still need to then calculate what the crop needs will be for the season. Also, Calcium is easily knocked off the soil chain by rain. Nitrogen use, especially soluble forms, effect C too.
This is why I like supplying Calcium via Calcium Nitrate. I supply Magnesium via Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate). Potassium via my base fert blend that also has N and P and micros like Fe, Mn, Z, Cu, etc
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Old February 25, 2016   #28
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It is interesting to note, that you can tell what this soil is like in texture just by the CEC (cation exchange capacity).
3.8 is low, which means it is sandy or loamy sand, or basically a light/well draining soil. It is low in humus or organic matter, so there is less surface area for chemical reaction (or cation exchanging) to occur.
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Old February 25, 2016   #29
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My target goal for CEC is generally 18-25. I'd be shocked at such a low reading. Certainly a highly sandy soil...little to no clay or organic matter / humus.

I'd start by amending it with bio char, leonardite, calcium bentonite and earthworm castings.
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Old February 25, 2016   #30
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That's tuff doing on 1,000 acres
But doable in the container or backyard
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