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

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Old March 5, 2006   #1
cthomato
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Default Organic container gardening?

I was speaking with a nursery owner who is switching to totally organic fertilizers like foliar compost tea, fish emulsion, worm castings, kelp and others. I'm wondering if this is a good idea for container gardening. I understand the benefit of creating an enviroment that promotes the beneficial organisms in the soil. However, this takes time (months I believe) to establish. Due to the transient nature of container gardening, is it possible to set up such an enviroment?

I've always used Osmocote, MG and Gro-Power and have been pleased with the results. But, I have used fish emulsion and my own compost too. Overall less than half of what I use is organic. So I'm thinking of trying some all-organic containers and comparing the results with my usual method. Any thoughts?

Chris
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Old March 5, 2006   #2
sliphorn
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Absolutely! Go for it. All organic container growing shouldn't be difficult at all. Espoma Tomato Tone is a good one to mix in with your container soil.
www.espoma.com
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Old March 5, 2006   #3
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Chris, are you familar with Earthboxes. Their instructions say to use 2 cups of regular synthetic granular fertilizer as a strip on top OR 3 cups of organic granular fertilizer mixed in. I have used both methods--for the organic one I used a granular that was chicken-manure based.
farkee (MCP)
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Old March 5, 2006   #4
cthomato
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Thanks for the responses. I've never used Tomato Tone and will give it try. I'm also going to get some kelp extract and a few other organic amendments.

I am building Tim's version of the Earthboxes and will try it for the first time this year. I also have GSC's deep SW containers and will give them a shot too. I'll probably try the all organic approach with half of my containers.

BTW, MCP, did you see a difference in overall plant health between the two fertilizers you mentioned?
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Old March 8, 2006   #5
kevn357
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Default Re: Organic container gardening?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cthomato
I was speaking with a nursery owner who is switching to totally organic fertilizers like foliar compost tea, fish emulsion, worm castings, kelp and others. I'm wondering if this is a good idea for container gardening. I understand the benefit of creating an enviroment that promotes the beneficial organisms in the soil. However, this takes time (months I believe) to establish. Due to the transient nature of container gardening, is it possible to set up such an enviroment?

Any thoughts?

Chris
http://www.kellogggarden.com/products/amendplus.html

I'm trying this product in 2 containers this year. $4.99 per bag 1.5 cubic feet, everything is more expensive in san diego though. Same size bag of cheap mulch is similar in price.

"PATIO PLUS is formulated with all natural organics- composted chicken manure, bat guano, kelp meal and worm castings"

I'm pretty sure it is soilless. Peat based.
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Old March 8, 2006   #6
cthomato
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I bought a bag of Patio Plus last year from HD. The price sounds right for what I paid then. Unfortunately, I did not remember which pot I put it in so I can't speak to the results. I didn't have anything die on me last year so I guess it worked out OK.

I bought some bone meal and will add that to the recipe. And I've got a bag of worm castings for $9. The woman at the garden store said it was a good price because she cut out the middle man. So I guess she got it straight from the worms.

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Old March 9, 2006   #7
jdwhitaker
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It could certainly be done. Most chemical fertilizers contain some, if not all, of their nitrogen in the form of urea. Urea has to be broken down by microorganisms just like organic fertilizers, and this does not hinder its effectiveness as a fertilizer in containers.
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Old March 11, 2006   #8
honu
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Yes, go for it! I also water w/ compost or worm tea and rinseate from yogurt containers, and top off the containers w/ compost. This year, I think I will try adding some composted manure into the containers.
There are some interesting products I am thinking of ordering from Peaceful Valley Farm (www.groworganic.com).
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Old March 11, 2006   #9
MsCowpea
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cthomato, everytime I started a 'scientific' experiment to really measure difference with organic vs synthetic fert. some major catastrophe interferes. I seldom use synthetics except in a few Earthboxes so I just can't tell you if one is superior over another. .

This year I had 6 earthboxes --3 with organic fert 3 with regular and a little hurricane came along-destroyed 2 foot tall plants and blew off plastic mulch covers and rained on the fert. strips. I straightened back the plastic on some of these boxes and took the shot. After that did not really go on with experiment.


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Old March 14, 2006   #10
cthomato
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MCP, that would be enough to break my gardening spirit for the season! I guess you learn to live with hurricanes in Florida. I shouldn't complain when I lose a few toms to pests. We here in SoCal are weather wimps. It hailed here this weekend and was described in the papers as a "severe" winter storm.

Well, I'm going ahead with my experiement: 50/50 split of EBs with either all organic or synthetic (M-Gro) fertilizers. My seedlings should be ready this weekend.

I've read Gary Ibsen's book and have gotten most his recommended organics. The only one I haven't found yet is Azomite.

Anyone have any ideas for a low-maintenance compost tea? I saw a demonstration of creating a "tea bag" of compost in cheesecloth and putting it in a sun tea container for a week to brew. Then after a week or so, using the liquid as a foliar spray.
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Old March 14, 2006   #11
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if you do this keep us posted.

all the container gurus at gw are not organic. all the sources i spoke with use osmocote or some other chemical fertilizer monthly or was it 2x per month? i have it written down at home. i was encouraged to use the chemical fertilizer because the limited 5 gallon pail is so restrictive the plants need controlled watering and feeding. it is not like in the garden, so i figured i'd follow the experts advice.

my results were quite good but i'm not going to do this for tomatoes any more. for eggplant this IS the way to go cuz out of the garden the flea beetles and cpb do not bother the plants. also the containers being surrounded by hot air on asphalt really makes those eggplants grow, they love the heat, garden soils are cool here. if i could do them organicly i would but i don't want to loose the plants.

the mix for toms and ep was 1/4 dehydrated cow manure, 1/4 compost, 1/2 promix or farfards.

i am organic in the garden but used the osmocote in the containers.

tom
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