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Self-contained Box Gardens: I have to praise EB's....(and their copycats)

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Ray_Der_Phan

Ray_Der_Phan
Oceanside, CA
(Zone 10a)

July 31, 2009
3:43 AM

Post #6887911

I'm just in amazement over what these little boxes can do. Very skeptical of them at first. Who wouldn't be?

"How could you grow tomato plants in those tiny boxes? That's not near enough mix to support 2 tomato plants. Gimme a break."... Is what I thought last year. I realized that I had a lot of unused space on my deck. So I gave them a try...I bought 7 EBs and 3 GPs for a trial run this year. Well, let's just say I'm more than sold...I'm astounded! :) I can talk all them up until I turn blue in the face...time to lay down the numbers...

Let's start with my favorite EB...2 Cherokee Purples

I've picked 142 tomatoes from this one EB. Some were big(over a pound) some were small(3 oz.). The average was about 6-8 oz. So doing the math 142x7=994 oz./16=62.125 pounds from one EB. This box is now dying...disease and not watering anymore. Still has about 2 dozen on the vine ripening up. It's done it's job :) Time to replant.


2nd Favorite EB...2 Big Beef

116 tomatoes with my biggest 14.5 oz. Most are beautiful red and round. A nice hybrid. Average size was at least 6 oz. So doing the math I got 43.5 pounds from it.


3rd favorite EB...Beefsteak

They never got really big :( Biggest was 10 oz. But these tomatoes really were prolific and tasty. Eaten fresh I enjoyed these the most for some weird reason. Loved the taste after the early season thick skinned crap. Oh! The math...135 tomatoes, avg. 4 oz. = 33.75 pounds.

So is it normal for 6 plants to give you close to 150 pounds of tomatoes? 6 plants have out done 20 other plants in manual watering containers. Geez and I though I was having a horrible year with all the disease. I never imagined this type of production

Ray_Der_Phan

Ray_Der_Phan
Oceanside, CA
(Zone 10a)

July 31, 2009
4:20 AM

Post #6887995

Here's what I've picked from the CP box in the past few days. 80 tomatoes...



This message was edited Jul 31, 2009 10:11 AM

Thumbnail by Ray_Der_Phan
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Moonglow
Corte Madera, CA

July 31, 2009
5:04 AM

Post #6888104

Self-watering is the way to go indeed! If you were doing the EB infomercial and I don't have the TSKs, I'll buy a dozen! LOL.

I definitely have to grow CPs next year. Gosh a whole year to wait for CPs...(sigh).

gardenglory
Gainesville, FL
(Zone 9a)

July 31, 2009
1:32 PM

Post #6888909

Sure puts my Aunt Gerdies Gold production to shame. It was far superior in quantity than I have ever gotten off one plant. Just composted them not more than 30 minutes ago. Planning on next year. Altho I have grown lots of nice things in the EB's..im not sure I have grown enough to justify the price and then the $$ on top of that to fill it. Tomatoes...far and away..are the exception. And...forget the cost, the taste...well...im preaching to the choir

Ray_Der_Phan

Ray_Der_Phan
Oceanside, CA
(Zone 10a)

July 31, 2009
5:11 PM

Post #6889790

Annapet...It did sound kinda like an infomercial lol You know I'm gonna try the TSKs next year but that small watering tube is gonna make me cuss up a storm, I can see it now :) You do have your Cherokee Chocolates that are similar to CP...I'm gonna grow both next year for comparison.


gardenglory...I have a bunch of Aunt Gertie's Gold seeds. Sounds like you highly recommend them. UGH! Another variety I'm gonna have to try next year. As far as price of box and harvest...yup, tomatoes have already paid for themselves and then some. Everything I have grown in SWCs(corn, beans, peppers, zucchini has blown away manual watering containers((5,10,15 gallon) and in ground plants. It's still kind of shocks to me.
seray53

July 31, 2009
10:04 PM

Post #6891042

Hi Ray,

Your tally reminded me why we've been using EB's for 8 years. Can't beat the production. Easy. Did I say easy. :) I've never been tempted to switch to anything else. We have 15 boxes which gives us plenty of food to eat and freeze. We've always hand watered. Doesn't take 30 minutes and keeps us up close and personal so to speak. We did switch some to coir this year and think we'll like it better. Our production has been for the most part like yours. Overwhelming!!! LOL

Thanks for sharing your math.
gardenglory
Gainesville, FL
(Zone 9a)

July 31, 2009
10:16 PM

Post #6891103

I wish I would have taken a picture, I just shelled them right away, but I just got a pot full of speckled butterbeans. They are very happy in the EB, and with the heat we have been having.
seray53

July 31, 2009
10:40 PM

Post #6891208

Sounds delicious!
gardenglory
Gainesville, FL
(Zone 9a)

July 31, 2009
10:57 PM

Post #6891285

You know the cornbread isnt far behind ;-).
seray53

July 31, 2009
11:04 PM

Post #6891321

Now you've made me hungry! I'll bring the blackberry pie. :)

Ray_Der_Phan

Ray_Der_Phan
Oceanside, CA
(Zone 10a)

August 1, 2009
3:48 AM

Post #6892490

Hey Seray...I just wish I wasn't so skeptical of them in the past. Otherwise my past harvests would have been much bigger than they were. I'll probably be up to 15 up from 10 boxes in a few months :) So glad to hear you guys are having a great year again.


Gardenglory...gotta love butter beans! I'm thinking about planting some Lima beans in an EB this weekend.
Moonglow
Corte Madera, CA

August 1, 2009
6:42 AM

Post #6892874

mark, stay with your EBs since they've done wonderfully for you. the small watering tube in TSK will drive you crazy and you'll hate me in return, LOL.

i picked 40 pounds of tomatoes today - - - they barely turned color ones but i was leaving for socal. the ananas noire are a pound each, or a little over. i can't believe tomato season is starting to happen for me.

have a great weekend, everyone!

Ray_Der_Phan

Ray_Der_Phan
Oceanside, CA
(Zone 10a)

August 1, 2009
6:54 AM

Post #6892899

Awe Annapet! The flood is starting to happen for you...can't wait to see pics. I told you will be overrun soon :) You are gonna be a busy girl!

You coming back down to SoCal? Cool!

I picked about 20 lbs today...tomorrow will be big.

EBs and GPs both are working. Maybe I should stay away from the TSKs since I cuss at the EBs tube daily.
CapeCodGardener
Mid-Cape, MA
(Zone 7a)

August 3, 2009
7:50 PM

Post #6902721

I totally agree with Ray about EBs and tomatoes (haven't tried TSKs)--I've got six different heirlooms in three EBs and they're all huge and FULL of little green tomatoes that wouldn't look too good in a photo ;-) So far NO RIPE 'MATERS with the exception of Stupice (an early type). Even EBs can't outwit an atypically wet, cool summer.
I've also got a whole lot of peppers coming in EBs--and cukes. Someday I might even get an eggplant or two.
I did have to rip out my summer squash after harvesting only a few because of the nasty squash vine borer. I'd hoped that growing them in EBs rather than in the ground would somehow thwart the moth from laying eggs. NOT. Do folks use floating row covers over their EBs to avoid this?

Ray_Der_Phan

Ray_Der_Phan
Oceanside, CA
(Zone 10a)

August 4, 2009
1:08 AM

Post #6903954

CapeCod - Let me know how you like Stupice. I grew it last year because it was supposed to do well in my coastal climate. Well, it produced a lot but they were by far the worst homegrown tomatoes I have ever tasted. Really thick skins, watery and no taste. There's so many variables that could be the reason for my lame Stupice...I hope yours turns out to be great. I have yet to grow a veggie that didn't love SWCs.

So glad we don't have those SVBs around here. I have yet to ever see one and the only thing that attacks my Squash is mildew. Which is unstoppable and relentless in our climate.

Here's a decent little harvest I picked yesterday...The cherry toms are starting to roll in.

Thumbnail by Ray_Der_Phan
Click the image for an enlarged view.

seray53

August 4, 2009
1:26 AM

Post #6904047

Looks fantastic Ray!!! I love all the different reds. We're about done with ours. You have us beat by a long shot this year in production. I keep showing my DH your photos and he keeps asking what kind of fertilizer you are using. :) We have 5 EB's with tomatoes. If I remember what you said I think you just do the EB thing and supplement with liquid feed?

IF you ever have a so so year you'll have all these wonderful pictures to show you it's not your fault it's the 5 feet of rain etc. LOL And if you ever hear yourself asking everyone "what kind of fert are you using?" you'll know it's just one of those years.

Ray_Der_Phan

Ray_Der_Phan
Oceanside, CA
(Zone 10a)

August 4, 2009
2:15 AM

Post #6904273

LOL Seray, I've taken enough pictures this year to last me for a long time. In comparison to last year, it's night and day. Thanks to the SWCs. It's been a surprisingly good year so far. Even after all the diseases that I've seen sweep through and attack my plants. Lots of the plants seemed to have shrugged it off(without any sprays) and produce anyways. Kinda shocked about that. I've used so many different kinds of fertilizers it's hard to say. Initially I used the EB 7-7-7 and then added Miracle Grow water soluble if showing any signs nutrient deficiencies. Which most did after they started producing fruit. So I will never use anything lower than 10-16-10, 13-13-13 or 9-18-9 for tomatoes. All my replants are using one of those fertilizers now and looking good. I also think it might be the soil I'm using in the boxes. http://www.ebstone.org/13_ednas.php

Off topic...

I found a new way to dispose of hornworms :) I saw one of my cats whacking at one of my pepper boxes and wonder why? I thought he was just speed bagging some bells. Getting a workout if ya will. I took a closer look and saw a good ole Hornworm getting fat. Apparently the cat wanted something to play with. I clipped off the branch and gave it to him. He enjoyed it until he got green goo on his paws LOL

Thumbnail by Ray_Der_Phan
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seray53

August 4, 2009
2:33 AM

Post #6904371

Great picture! You can tell he's waiting for some action.
We've switched to coir because we're unhappy with the soil we've been using. I'll check out your link. Thanks for the info.
Moonglow
Corte Madera, CA

August 4, 2009
3:18 AM

Post #6904586

Awww, I want a kitty cat, too. I wish I weren't allergic. Imagine with a cat and companion planting, my tomatoes will get the protection they need.

Awesome harvest, Mark! What are the big red ones on the lower left quadrant?

I'm still in Ventura and I know where you live (evil laughter follows...)

Ray_Der_Phan

Ray_Der_Phan
Oceanside, CA
(Zone 10a)

August 4, 2009
2:45 PM

Post #6905855

Annapet...As far as protecting tomato plants. That cat would be no help. He hates the smell of tomato plants and won't go within 5 feet of one. Peppers on the other hand, he can't stay away. He brings me bells in his mouth and then drops them off at the door like he caught a mouse. It's pretty funny to see him with a giant bell in his mouth walking across the yard all proud. LOL

Those on the bottom left are CP's. Also pictured Kellogg's Breakfast, San Marzano, Big Beef, Sun Gold, Black Cherry, Yellow Pear, Purple Calabash(Yuck), Hillbilly, Green Zebra, Assorted Peppers and Millionaire Eggplant.

Uh oh...she approaching. Only about a hour and a half from my hood :)
CapeCodGardener
Mid-Cape, MA
(Zone 7a)

August 4, 2009
10:23 PM

Post #6907481

[quote]CapeCod - Let me know how you like Stupice. I grew it last year because it was supposed to do well in my coastal climate. Well, it produced a lot but they were by far the worst homegrown tomatoes I have ever tasted. Really thick skins, watery and no taste.[/quote]
Ray, what a great harvest you have!
I am liking my Stulpice--small, but flavorful, and above all, RIPENING--but my enthusiasm may be partly because they're also the FIRST tomatoes to be ripening for me.
Stupice gets many positive, but also some negative comments in Plantfiles.
http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/71195/
What's interesting, and validates your original opening of this thread, is that the Stupice I'm growing in an EB has been over a week earlier in giving me some ripe 'maters, than the very same variety I planted in the ground.
joy112854
Crestview, FL

August 5, 2009
2:04 AM

Post #6908416

Ray: So, what is your big secret to growing such a great abundance of healthy toms there? You are using the EB; but are you doing anything else? Inquiring minds want to know, like my mind. LOL
joy

Ray_Der_Phan

Ray_Der_Phan
Oceanside, CA
(Zone 10a)

August 5, 2009
3:22 AM

Post #6908819

Thanks CCG, glad you are liking your Stupice. Looking at that rating tells me I probably did something to screw up their taste last year :) You don't see many 20-1-1 reviews. With that said I won't be growing them anymore and now headed over to give it a negative review LOL

Joy, I chalk it up to a lot of luck :) Maybe it's the mix I'm using? I dunno, possibly. I also don't follow the recommended fertilizer from EB. I use some water soluble if needed and I use a higher strength of N-P-K than they recommend(Slow release ferts too). I started 75% from seeds. I planted the seedlings as deep as they'd go in the boxes(to plastic barrier at the water level). 12" seedling would only have about 4" showing in most cases. I don't think I'm doing anything too differently than anyone else. Maybe I was just blessed with really good, strong seeds this year. They have been fighting through tons of disease and still producing. I don't expect this to happen every year...every farmer/gardener tells me...enjoy it while it lasts. You never know what next year will bring.

After yesterdays pretty good harvest, I was shocked to see more were ready in less than 24 hours later. Not a lot but I'm pretty excited that my Pruden's Purple are starting to ripen up. Planted in late may so this is my first one of the year(middle red one). BLT time :)

Thumbnail by Ray_Der_Phan
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joy112854
Crestview, FL

August 5, 2009
1:40 PM

Post #6909823

You are having a really good year I must say. I was happy with what my garden produced compared to last time, my first time gardening. LOL I actually got some tomatoes, peppers and eggplants this time which I didn't the first time I tried. I'm glad I tried again and am going to keep gardening. Especially tomtoes, I love the fresh taste they have.
joy

Ray_Der_Phan

Ray_Der_Phan
Oceanside, CA
(Zone 10a)

August 5, 2009
4:57 PM

Post #6910610

One negative I would give to SWC's...

I have had more BER than ever before. Definitely wasn't lack of calcium. Wasn't a real big deal, it rectified itself and I only lost about 15 total tomatoes. I'm thinking it has something to do with the roots sitting in the reservoir and takes time for them to adjust(Just guessing of course). I have never had BER using 12 gallon manual watering containers with no extra calcium added(just what's in the soil). Using the same soil for both SWCs and Containers.
CapeCodGardener
Mid-Cape, MA
(Zone 7a)

August 5, 2009
5:54 PM

Post #6910792

[quote]One negative I would give to SWC's...I have had more BER than ever before.[/quote]
Ray, I also had a lot of BER last year in my EBs--but it was most apparent on my three Jaune Flamme heirloom vines. After a few weeks it went away, and as this variety is very prolific, I did get lots of 'maters. But I was puzzled because I had always assumed that BER was intensified by periods of uneven watering, and SWCs aren't supposed to be susceptible to this by reason of the reservoir.
I've heard since that Jaune Flamme are more apt to get BER, but I still wonder why it happened in SWCs.
So far this year, no BER so far because very few ripe 'maters have yet appeared.

Ray_Der_Phan

Ray_Der_Phan
Oceanside, CA
(Zone 10a)

August 5, 2009
6:52 PM

Post #6911016

Yup, certain varieties are definitely more susceptible. This year Hillbilly were the main ones. A lot of the early Hillbilly tomatoes in SWC's were afflicted. While the ones in 12 gallon manual watering containers(no extra Dolomite added) didn't have one with BER. Starting to wonder if having their roots sitting in 3 gallons of water has something to do with BER? Eventually they adjust to the moisture levels and BER vanishes for good.
joy112854
Crestview, FL

August 8, 2009
2:11 AM

Post #6920963

I didn't have any BER at all this Spring and I had lots of tomatoes; but summer came along and the bugs got the better of me and my garden. Of course, I started my tomato startings in the 5 gallon grow bags of coir of which I had added dolomite lime and epsom salt to, while I did the bury the stem routine with them, I did them 7 at a time that way, and of course, I hand watered them with Bob's fertilizer. After they had matured quite a bit, I started using the MG spray and they were fine. I did use a mixture of Sea Magic, Bob's fertilizer, and compost tea when they were in the seed starting trays. Remember, there were 9 out of about 20 that were Burpee tomato startings though too, they sent me healthy tomato plants, I was really impressed.

I also had my tomatoes in the 5 gallon self watering containers I had made from 5 gallon buckets, and Bob's 5 gallon grow bags and the square footer self watering container from Garden Supply. I didn't much care for the square footer, or the topsy turvy's or the revolutionary planters. I am going to use the EBs and 5 gallon buckets this Spring for my tomatoes; but, I'm still gonna use the bury the stem method. I think the dolomite lime and epsom salt is the trick. By the way, I just got done putting my 5 new EBs together, they arrived today!!!! I got the green ones this time.
joy

Ray_Der_Phan

Ray_Der_Phan
Oceanside, CA
(Zone 10a)

August 9, 2009
3:44 AM

Post #6924866

15 or so tomatoes with BER out of a thousand plus or so isn't a big deal. But it's just interesting that all were in SWC's. None in regular containers using the same mix.

Speaking of bugs...My Hibiscus and container peppers look like they have been snowed on. unstoppable Whiteflies grrrrrrr! Also, Hornworms are in full force now. I'm seeing at least 5 a day. Oh well, they aren't doing much damage so I just chuck'em in the neighbors yard :) I have only killed 2 this year...they asked for it lol

With that said...I have about a dozen melons growing very well :) Finally some success with them! My Eggplants are really starting to produce as well. I have no idea what to do with them other than Eggplant Parm. The second wave of Peppers is happening. Peppers in SWC's do very well! Strangely enough though, I get occasional BER with peppers in regular containers and none in SWCs. Anyways here's what I picked today. It's sad when I don't even care to lay them out anymore and leave them in the bags lol

Thumbnail by Ray_Der_Phan
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Ray_Der_Phan

Ray_Der_Phan
Oceanside, CA
(Zone 10a)

August 9, 2009
3:46 AM

Post #6924873

Probably one of the biggest Bells I have grown...top 5 no doubt! It was hard to handle :)




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joy112854
Crestview, FL

August 9, 2009
3:57 AM

Post #6924910

Ray: Those are simply gorgeous peppers and tomatoes. I saw two melons today; but both were mushy and had to throw them out, is it the rain possibly? We have had nonestop rain for quite some time.
joy

Ray_Der_Phan

Ray_Der_Phan
Oceanside, CA
(Zone 10a)

August 9, 2009
4:24 AM

Post #6924990

Mushy melons? I'd toss them away unfortunately. Sounds like it wasn't pollinated completely. Stop the spraying :)
joy112854
Crestview, FL

August 9, 2009
5:30 PM

Post #6926434

Ray: I only used pest control 3 times this entire year, this last time I had to use malathian as the fertilome triple action plus and the sevin didn't work with the rainfall we had, the malathian has worked and I don't think I will have to spray again for a while anyways. I haven't had too many problems with bugs til summer got here, then it was massive. Now, just clearing out the bugs for a fall garden that will be going in the second week of September.
joy

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