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Hydro, EB, Raised bed, Container?

Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

I just came to this forum to get some opinions. I'm starting a new thread in the hopes it stimulates some interest. This forum has gone very quiet for some reason.

I grow everything successfully in containers sitting in water. I will attach a photo for explanation.


This message was edited May 14, 2010 6:20 PM

Thumbnail by twiggybuds
Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

I've tried to explain my methods on a couple of threads on other forums and I get the impression that most people think I'm a raving lunatic because it goes against all the wisdom they've ever heard about plants not liking wet feet.

I grew out well over 100 tomato plants this year, hundreds of daylilies, elephant ears, lilies, onions, garlic, squash, green beans, okra, potatoes, cukes, meyer lemon trees, cannas, crinums, tuberoses, tomatillos, peppers, etc. All thrived.

Thumbnail by twiggybuds
Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

As you can see in the photos of my zukes and peppers, this works very well, is easy, almost carefree and productive. I turned to this method out of desperation to keep gardening although I have lived in a power wheelchair for the past 6 years. I can no longer work in the soil and this is the only way for me. I think it has many benefits for anyone wanting to garden in containers without the constant drudge of watering daily.

I use the cheapest bagged potting soil, compost I can find, nursery pots from 1-7 gallons, commercial fertilizer and fill these beds like you would a bathtub. They hold 2-4 inches of water, many tadpoles, duckweed and work for any actively growing plant. The soil surface often gets dry as a bone and the bottom gets that stinky swamp smell but the plants are completely free to choose. Many of them will send roots out of the holes in the pots to free flow in the water.

I've grown lots of large indeterminate tomatoes in 3 gallon pots. As near as I can tell, the soil acts primarily as an anchor or support for the plants and as a distribution point for time released fert. I believe this also uses ferts very effectively as it gives any nutrients that leach out another chance to be taken up. A good rain occasionally is beneficial but I hate it when it's a gully washer that makes my beds overflow and thereby lose the goodies.

I've tried to explain this method a few times but would like some input about how to explain it better. You all know that hydroponics works and is this a hydro system or not? Some people think it's more like an earthbox. I think it works like a raised bed but with the advantage of always supplying adequate water. Thoughts please?

New Iberia, LA

Twiggybuds
Do you have a pump that circulates water/nutrient in the valley/depression between the two rows of plants? If you donít have a pump then you have the closest thing to an open to atmosphere earth box that I have ever seen. Do you have any type of wicking material between the plants and the reservoir? Itís not clear from the pictures how the water is transferred from the valley/depression in the ground to the containers.Do you put fertilizer in the pots or in the water?
Oldude

Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/926516/

At last some response! Hello olddude. I'm one of your fans over on the fruit forum.

This link is a thread I started to explain it. So you think it's a form of EB?

I don't use any pumps. There's no circulation necessary because the water is well oxygenated just by surface exposure. It supports loads of tadpoles. I've used Scott's Pro water soluble 20-10-20 and triple 8 through triple 13. The water soluble is more difficult to control and I never used it before so I'm more comfortable with the regular granulated stuff placed in the pots.

The pots are simply sitting in water. I dug out the beds, laid plastic and fill with the hose. Some beds are too deep and have overflow holes punched.

I normally use the cheapest thing I can buy for soil. I'm using some that I bought in 2005. I put leaves, weeds and whatever in the bottom of a pot and tump the used soil in on top of it. If the old stuff isn't too root bound, I like to split it up among 2 or 3 pots and mix in some from other pots. I do this 2 or 3 times a year with succession planting.

In normal weather, this works perfectly. This year it started raining almost every day around July 1 and just stopped that routine last week. I lost a few plants to root rot and it's a miracle I didn't lose them all. This system needs well draining soil. Normally I figure 1/3 stays wet, 1/3 stays moist, and the top 1/3 stays pretty dry. The pots all have earth worms so that proves it's not sopping wet. All plants can easily adapt roots to live in water. If the roots want more space or light, they grow out the holes in the pots.

The beauty of this is that it's easy, can be done anywhere and is productive. The water and heat must kill a lot of the common soil diseases and nematodes. Invasive weeds are much more easily controlled or eliminated. Those small squash in the first picture got killed by squash vine borers before they even went into the bed. The big ones also fell victim after bearing a couple weeks. I put all the plant residue into the water bed and it had totally disappeared within a week. Now there are pots of snap beans in their place.

So do you still think it's an open air EB?

New Iberia, LA

Twiggy
What you have created is something that I have never seen before. It is similar to the EB but with an open system. Similar to the nutrient film but no pump to flow around the pots sitting on a plastic film. Similar to an ebb and flow in that you probably top off the water solution every couple of days and the sun evaporates the pool and it recedes to a lower level. Similar to a pond or river bank where trees thrive because they have the water they need when they need it.
You may want to name it the Twiggybuds system. It is a unique system and from your pictures it sure seems to work very well.
Oldude

Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

I think your trees by the pond or river bank best describes it because it is pretty much a natural system.

It's very low maintenance when the plants are large enough to reach down to the moisture but once they really crank up, there's rapid transpiration that requires watering every 2 or 3 days. It's lot's easier than watering pots the normal way once or twice a day. I can let it go dry for a day or two and the plants don't care much. If it really dries out, any roots outside the pots die back. I keep some water at all times for my tadpoles. I know it sounds like a big lie but I've only had contact with 3 or 4 skeeters all year. They were out in the early spring before the frogs appeared. Can you imagine life without skeeters with daily rain and a whole yard of continuous standing water? The knats were bad early on but haven't been around for months. I don't know if the frogs had anything to do with them or not.

I like bottom watering everything and keep my potted seedlings and cuttings in old cafeteria trays. I let them dry some in between.

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

I know its been a while since you touched this subject-----just wanted you to know that I like most of it.

I like hydroponics-----and you are right-----this forum is always dead----no action.
Other countries are having a problem with clean water due to the global warming.
I think more people need to get more interested in hydroponics because one of these days water will not be so abundant. We should be teaching our children and grandchildren how to conserve water by using hydroponic techniques.

I am working on setting up a system for next year. I do not have it all figured out yet. I am still deciding on what to use that is cheap to hold my water as it slowly circulates back into a holding tank. --------decisions decisions.

First of all, I am growing many plants under a poly roof off my house. There will be no poly walls-------but will have 30% shade cloth walls---or screen if I can afford it. I already have the shade cloth. Poly roof to keep the rain off the plants. Shade cloth walls or screen to keep out those squash bugs. Also----rain barrels to collect as much water as I can------also setting that up for several barrels to overflow into another. Will use some city water and all the rain water I can collect.
I need a trough for my containers to sit in......

I have plenty of time to figure it all out.......Hope I don't trip over my own brain.........

Happy Gardening
Cricket

Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

Hi Cricket. I'm honored that you posted here because you're my hero. I've gone back and read all your old threads about growing tomatoes and I tried to copycat your fertilizer. I have your recipe saved on my blog. It works well for squash and peppers too. I surprised myself and everyone else that visited with the most amazing production imaginable. You inspired me to do the impossible and I'm just so grateful.

I can't deal with any support system other than bamboo sticks but they work. I don't have any commercial opportunities so I'm just having fun discovering all these possibilities for my own use and keeping the neighbors supplied. It remains a challenge because I've 2 problems to solve.

#1 is that my pots get very hot and I think that might really shorten production. I think I will try some white row cover to drape the outer side walls of the pots. I'm thinking of cutting some strips the length of my beds and using one pin per pot. That will leave the bottom accessible to the frogs and birds which are essential for mosquito control.

#2 is some shade cloth. I can't cover the whole property which is probably what needs to happen. I had a couple tomatoes that got some mid-day relief from a pecan tree and they produced 3 weeks longer than the rest. I'm thinking of making several pvc frames and using the -?-% cloth on 3 sides to see how that works. I'm hoping it will also help some with slowing transpiration.

The squash vine borers have been the worst I've ever seen this year. I'm going to try some silver mulch in my pots and anything else I can figure out. Enclosing the plants isn't an option for me.

I think hydro systems are going to become ever more necessary in the future and we gardeners need to learn how to implement new techniques. They keep making more people but they aren't making any more prime farm land or adopting sustainable methods. I also think climate change is going to force major agricultural upsets, both geographically and in the methodology.

I want to hurry up and figure out a way to grow strawberries for max production and least expense. I had them the last 2 seasons but haven't got my pot/water ratio right yet. If I don't come up with something better real quick, next month is time to plant, I'm going to try 1 gallon pots in 1" of water.

Cricket I hope you'll continue to teach me how to garden. I know I'm anxiously waiting to hear more about all your adventures.

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

Well, I wont be growing produce commercially anymore unless I can figure out how to do it differently. I am too allergic to tomato sap to grow mass production but I will grow it for my self. I need more space between my plants so I can get around them without touching them so much. I will have to work on the tomato plants early mornings wearing thin long sleeves and surgical gloves or kitchen latex gloves. I will be growing them in a small hobby house structure with a poly roof only. 12x24. If I learn or practice how to work with the plants without breaking out severely------I may one day try commercial production again. Till then, its just a hobby.

I will still keep my greenhouse business and grow the young plants for the public. I use surgical gloves while transplanting. After that, contact is minimal.

Just a suggestion on Pots. If you would use the poly grow bags which come in 5 gallon sizes and smaller------you can order them in White which lowers the soil temp some. Other than that------it would be difficult with your system------some folks buy bales of hay and separates the layers which end up being 3 inches thick-------and leaning those square layers of hay against their pots which lowers the temp by shading the pots. Later on, they chop the hay and compost it to go into the pots the next year. No waste.
Just time consuming.

I realize that you are limited as to what you can do being in a wheelchair and it must be frustrating sometimes trying to set up a system that works for you. I hope you have neighboring friends that can help you out.

I saw some strawberry farms on the internet located in Japan (I think)
If you could imagine::::: two sets of hand rails 6 inches apart from each other , 3 ft off the ground running in the length prefered, setting 6 inch pots with lips on top but in between those hand rails allowing the lips to rest on the hand rails, and each pot is fed with automatic watering system with drippers.
If it were me, I would just set up a single rail and use hanging baskets. Just because you use hanging baskets doesnt mean it has to be 7 ft in the air. The rail can be 3 ft high. And you can grow other plants in the baskets. A 10 inch basket holds 2 gallons or more of soil. Possibilities are endless................

I could hand out ideas all day-------but I must take a break. Sometimes my brain goes off into left field.



Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

I planted 150 foot row of turnip greens and all of it is turning brown now due to sitting in water during our rain forest weather. I really wanted some homegrown turnip greens.
debating on rather It would be worth the time and effort to grow some in containers----with some sort of hydro system---or at least a drip system.....................so frustrated with this years gardening. I just want Spring 2010 to get here so i can start over again!!!!!!!!!


I want to put my potted plants in a trough------like twiggy did-------but I want to circulate the water in the trough.
I have some ideas but they are not concrete. (so to speak)
I want to grow the plants under poly roof--------so my height is limited which means if I make a trough, it should not be very high up. It needs to be as close to the ground as I can get it so I can use the headspace for plant vines. But since i need it so close to the ground, that means the excess water water be able to flow into a holding tank. At the same time, I dont want my plants sitting in water continuously.

So, I could make a trough using concrete blocks (or timbers) lined with poly to hold water. Concrete blocks would make it deep enough that I could use a pond pump to keep the water circulated into the pots and out the bottom. I can keep the pots elevated by sitting the pots on bricks. I have a ton of bricks.
Can I put baby koi in the trough to eat mosquito eggs. OR baby gold fish? Will the fertilizer kill the fish? If the fish wont work, I will have to use mosquito tablets.


New Iberia, LA

Cricket
I am going to try Twiggyís way of growing in the greenhouse this fall. Since I donít have to worry about rain inside the greenhouse I will be able to control the water level fairly close. I have a couple of plastic kidís bathing tubs so they should be good to try on a small scale. I am going to plant bell peppers and a couple of tomatoes and see what happens. All will be in 5 gallon buckets so if I recall, Twiggy recommends a level of water about 4Ē deep.
I researched the use of Mosquito dunks (http://www.planetnatural.com/site/mosquito-dunks.html) a while back when I caught our dog drinking out our concrete fountain. It turns out that mosquito dunks are not a problem for humans or wild life. I will use them if mosquitoes become a problem.
I have been thinking about an easy way to construct a twiggy system above ground and there are some things to consider. The way she digs out the earth and has the pools below ground level works well because the surrounding banks support the pressure of the water on all sides. If I build anything above ground, the sides need to be secured in a way that the plastic liner can not slip under or push out the wood boards or concrete blocks. Itís not a big issue but it needs to be addressed before you full the system.
Many thanks to both of you for all of the help that you have given me in the past.
Oldude

Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

Cricket I'm on my first cup of coffee so I think I'm missing something. It sounds like you are wanting a true hydro system. If you have moving water as in using a pump....I think that eliminates the skeeter problem. If you pumped water from a fish pond, the size of the pond and number of fish would dictate the numbers and types of plants that could be supported. The fish in the pond would take care of the skeeters.

If you are circulating water with artificial nutrients, there's a good chance that the skeeters couldn't live in it and you'd probably filter anything out ahead of the pump anyway. The moving water prevents the skeeters, I think.

I started growing my way in 2005 and was basically just flying blind. My thing was daylilies. I was using Scott's Pro water soluble. I didn't have any reliable set up for measuring and to get some even distribution so I loaded it into a hose end sprayer but didn't spray. I just let it run into my beds. I still had plenty of frogs and found out I didn't have a bad mosquito problem. I started paying attention to the tadpoles and got worried about harming them so I shifted to triple 13 twice a year and directly into the pots.

In 2008 I decided to try vegetables and that has been the big learning experience. The ideal is to have the pots set in water with the depth equal to approximately1/4 the depth of your soil in the pots. Unless there is rain or surface watering occasionally, the top several inches gets dry as dust. Gravity causes the pots to act like a raised bed and even with almost daily rain the past 3 months, as the top of the pots drains, the water is replaced with oxygen which prevents them drowning.

I think what I'm doing merges the benefits of containers, in-ground and hydro methods in the most economical and earth friendly way. It also allows for very intensive production. My largest pots are 11 1/4 deep and 14" diameter and they work well for 2 pepper plants or 5 snap beans. I don't think I could do better in open ground.

Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

Hey Olddude. Glad to hear you're giving it a try. I hope the peppers and toms actually get enough heat and light to show you something. My peppers are still going strong but the tomatoes are mostly sitting there waiting for it to cool down some more. The few that have managed to set are promptly attacked by caterpillars. I'm thinking of taking a couple into the greenhouse just before frost but I'll need to start filling it up with seedlings in early January. Maybe I can have a BIG greenhouse like Cricket's when I grow up.

Nauvoo, AL(Zone 7a)

Right, the rain is adding some oxygen to your soil. My plants will be under poly roof. I need to make sure the soil gets oxygen some how and the only way I know is with a pump that has a air hose feeding into the pump line. Then watering the plants at the top of the soil with the water from the trough using the pump tube/hose a few times a week. But I dont have to keep the pump running all the time. Just on the days that I know I will be watering from the top.
Do you think there is a better way?

I cannot afford to do hydroponics the way the professionals do it. I have to do it the poor mans way.

Speaking of Big Greenhouses------i cant remember if I have mentioned this in other forums or not-----but--------My 16X84 collapsed due to the rain that puddled on top of the house and I did not notice it. I have not been out to the big houses in a few months. It was like a giant swimming pool. And the most surprising thing was the poly never ruptured. The hoops caved in and the pool sat on the ground. Its not that big of a disappointment. I was planning on taking down the 16 X 84 anyway and building a new greenhouse. But changed the plans a little and took down the 16X96 and using it to repair the 16 X84 and building the new one in the place of the 16X96. The new greenhouse will be made of wood. Painting the wood with Lastameric (spelling). The new house will be 23 X 70 using wood trusses. And still have the other big house that is 20x96. plus the other small ones.
the 23x70 will have straight sides and will be easy to remove the poly side curtains during summer heat. The hoop houses are more difficult to cool off,,, MORe difficult to make and operate side curtains cause when you remove the side curtains for the summer, water falls off the poly roof into the greenhouse landing into the potted plants next to the wall and up rooting the plants......... One of these years , I hope to replace all the hoop houses with straight wall houses. I will most likely repeat all this in the Market and Greenhouse forums.

Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

Ok, now I see what you're concerned with re: oxygen. If the soil isn't waterlogged, the space between the particles is full of oxygen. There is no other possibility. Gravity pulls the water down and the air follows. There's no doubt that rain water carries oxygen and well water doesn't. I can tell a difference in the growth and they do definitely prefer rain water. I've noticed the same thing with plants growing in the ground. Your oxygenated system sounds like an excellent idea and I can imagine it working wonderfully once you get it set up.

Now for the troughs. I know you and your husband are handy and my best idea is use plywood for the bottom and 1 x ? for the sides. Whatever it takes to provide the depth for 1/4 the depth of your pots. Truth be told, with the capability to top water at will, you wouldn't need any standing water at all unless you wanted to encourage the roots to free flow out the pot holes like many of mine do. I think by allowing for those extra roots, you can get away with a smaller pot. Depending on what you're growing. Now for drainage there's 2 ways to do it that I can think of. You can use those shims like they use under mobile homes to get a slight slope on your trough. Or you can use one of those through the bottom fittings like mounting a faucet on a barrel and slope some pvc to a sump. The sump would be good for collecting the debris and you could then pump the clean stuff to a holding tank for reuse.

Thinking about your system has helped clarify my thoughts about my strawberry project.

I heard about the collapsing greenhouse. The has been an awful year for you. Like you said, this year needs to hurry up and go so we can start over.

New Iberia, LA

Twiggy
I just started your system today with three bells. Looks like I could get about 7 plants in this pool. I have enough bells started to fill the pool but they will be a while before they are large enough to put them in the pool. My soil mixture is simple with 1/3 peat x 2/3-composted pine bark. The floating brown spot is a mosquito dunk because we are absolutely overrun with mosquitoes this fall. The greenhouse seems to be their gathering point.
I will post as things progress this winter.
Oldude

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Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

Looking good. I'm going to hold some peppers in the GH once they go dormant. Mine is too small for many large plants. I've got cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choi, rutabagas, kohlrabi and a bunch more going strong in the water beds. It's still raining way more than I need and so hot that I've given up on my tomatoes. They won't set until it cools down. The peppers are still stroking along as though they don't know their days are numbered.

I hope you give it a good trial this winter so you'll know in good time how many beds you'll want for the real season.

Williamsburg, OH(Zone 6a)

Nothing to share "yet". But VERY interested in this topic so looking forward to future posts.

Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

Denise you can't use this idea until spring but it will work great for all your container stuff once you thaw out. I want to hear from anyone that tries it about how they like it.

New Iberia, LA

I dug up two bell pepper plants from my wifeís raised beds. They are in the black 10-gallon containers and a hot pepper is on in the left front position. I dug up as much root as I could to transplant so we will see if they recover. With the transplants and the newly sprouted blushing beauty bell pepper I have 7 plants in this pool. So far the three first bells are doing very well and the water is wicking to the top of the containers. I ran out of room in the pool for tomatoes so I have them in the hydroponics system. Here is the progress as promised.
Oldude

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Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

I see lots of new growth and buds on those first ones you put in there. They sure look happy.

I'd like to see your tomato hydro system. Do you have a link?

Erath, LA(Zone 9a)

Hello everyone, I've been researching hydro for a while. I came across something called a fogponics system which I find interesting. Seems to solve the problem of clogged nozzels in the areoponics systems. It produces a water mist in the 3 -5 microns range reducing the amount of liquid nutrient additive to the water by half or less because it is easier for the plants to absorb. I've seen clips on You Tube of people adding the fogger to an ebb and flow system just for the redundancy of having a back up in case the fogger goes out. Here's the url http://www.fogponics.com/

New Iberia, LA

Kajunguy
Here us a good write up using the ultrasonic by bigbubbaacin over on the Tomatoville forum. It is one of the systems that I have not yet tried because of the cost. The prices for the ultrasonic foggers can now be purchased at a very reasonable price so this system has much more appeal to me now.

http://www.tomatoville.com/showthread.php?t=9788&highlight=ultrasonic

Twiggy
I am just starting the hydro tomatoes inside the greenhouse so there is not much to see yet.
Here is the link to my A frame hydro system which is very close to what I am doing inside the greenhouse
http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/829084/

Oldude

New Iberia, LA

Twiggy
Here is the hydro system with new tomato starts. I have been lazy this year with a late start but I will have tomatoes in January or just about the time that I start plants for spring planting.To the left side of the tomatoes is where I start my spring papayas in December.. The GH is filling quickly with over wintering bananas and my wifeís plants.
Oldude

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New Iberia, LA

The blue barrel is the Hydro nutrient tank and a view of the bell peppers in the kiddy swimming pool. Somehow I am going to move the Dragon fruit plant into the far corner.
I am impressed with the growth of bell peppers in the water pool..
Oldude

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Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

Those peppers do indeed look happy. I've been plagued with a lot of cloudy weather and this is the 3rd weekend in a row for several days of cool temps. My peppers are loaded and blooming but nothing much is ripening. They don't like these shortening days either.

Your hydro system sure does look efficient. I've got a pump and might need to try it next spring outside. I'm itching to try something different.

How do you think your hydro would work with melons in the buckets? I was thinking about maybe arranging them in a circle and letting them run on plastic. It seems I read somewhere that their roots really spread out but if you supply everything they need in the bucket it might work. I grew winter squash in my 14" pots in the water beds and got some decent ones. It wasn't satisfactory though because they ran all over the place and I couldn't get close enough to feed them. I wouldn't have that problem with a system like yours.

New Iberia, LA

This system continues to impress me as to how low maintenance it is. I got behind in caging and broke a few limbs but we have already picked a dozen or so of these bells.
I pulled the Jalapeno that was in the front row left because it was doing poorly (never recovered from being dug up) and I did not want to infect the other bells. The replacement is a blushing beauty bell that I had outside the system.
The only problem so far is that if you donít support, the limbs tend to fall over into the water. Next year I will spread out plastic fencing across the tops of the buckets and let the bells fall over and be supported that way. I donít know why I did not think of that sooner.
Oldude

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New Iberia, LA

Tomatoes 21 days later. The first flower bloomed on the black cherry today.
I took the pump off of the timer this year because I realized that my tomatoes were getting too wet during cloudy days with not much greenhouse heat. Just keeping the media damp and running the pump manually. Seems to work better.
Oldude

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Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

Those are awfully fine looking. My peppers are still outside and loaded with flowers but what sets is very slow. I want to save a few for next year but will keep them dormant. Your peppers don't even know it's time to slow down. I've got one Russian Red volunteer mater that has set 2 so far and I will be very pleased if my GH keeps them going without heat.

I use 4' bamboo sticks for my peppers and that keeps them from flopping. Sometimes it takes 2 or 3.

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Just found this thread....

Oldude, update?

Twiggy, 4' poles for pepper supports? My peppers barely reached 18"-24".

Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

Hello msrobin. I have all sizes of pepper plants. Bell types tend to be short. Some hot ones get to 36" or more. I also grew more than one in some of the larger pots so that that's why I said it took several. Last year my peppers did well crowded but this year it did seem to cut production some. I think I will use 1 plant to each 3 gallon pot next year and that should require only 1 stake.

My peppers aren't froze back yet. I took several in the GH because they still had lots of fruit even after being frosted.

Everyone around here is doing hydro whether they want to or not. The December record for rainfall was surpassed before the 15th. Some of my broccoli and cabbage are looking wilty from the surplus and the cloudy days.

New Iberia, LA

These few bells are furnishing all the bell peppers that we need.

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New Iberia, LA

My tomatoes should be farther along but for the last two weeks the green house is struggling to reach 80 degrees. 15Ē of rain in the last two weeks so cloud cover has been almost constant. I should he picking some of the Black cherry tomatoes by New Years followed by Big beef and Cobra later. I will be starting seed for spring planting in mid January so the GH will be getting crowded soon.
Oldude

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Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Thanks. Peppers look great.

Twiggy, I did buckets of tomatoes in a pool this summer. They produced better quantiy-wise (not a lot, but better) and the quality was better (no black spots and less cracking) than any I had planted in the ground in the past, but the plants themselves looked pretty rough. Still got a few hornworms, but a few drowned before they got to the plants. Don't know how the others managed to reach the plants. Not sure what I didn't do right, but I will continue using your method for a 1/3 or more or my plants.

I want to do a CSA, and I really need to produce quality tomatoes.

Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

Oldude, my tomatoes have NEVER looked that good. Tell me about your weed blocker. The stuff I find isn't anywhere near that sturdy looking.

Moss Point, MS(Zone 8b)

msrobin I'm so glad you had good results. I had very few cases of BER but I think they were because the plants outgrew their roots early on and then they straighten out. I didn't have as many horn worms this year but the other caterpillars were merciless. I didn't have cracking problems, probably because they were used to having plenty of water.

I'm still fumbling along trying different varieties and ferts. Some will set in very cold weather and others just sit and sulk. June was extremely hot here and most of mine had shut down by early July. I did get so many tomatoes that I was ready for a break when it came. Then excess rain and caterpillars ruined my fall crop. I haven't had a fresh one since July and I'm ready to start again. Be sure to try some peppers next year. They love the water.

As far as looking rough... Feldon30 once posted on the tomato forum that he didn't eat his plants so their looks wasn't important. lol.

I love hearing about how this is working for other folks. Oldude what zone are you in? I sure hope this rain routine passes off. It's been nice not to have to water things but this is getting ridiculous. Whatever you get just keeps coming this way. I've got holes dug for my new fruit trees and they're full of water. Now I'm wondering if they'll drown my new babies.

Your peppers and tomatoes are really going strong. I've blown it for this winter but I think I need to make plans for keeping some of mine going next year.

New Iberia, LA

msrobin
Itís just nursery ground cover under the tomatoes and I have to continuously spray round up or vinegar on the weeds. Crabgrass and pigweed just keep coming through the fabric. The bottom right side of the tomato picture is conveyor belting 32Ē wide 3/8Ē thick. It was laid down the center of the greenhouse as a walkway. My source for this material dried up and I have not been able to find anymore used belting. It is my intention to acquire more and cover the entire floor. Conveyor belting is heavy and hard to cut but once in place it should last indefinitely.
Twiggy
This system is making me a lazy man, Gosh, all I do is add water once in a while and pick peppers. I guess the 3Ē-4íí deep pool of water acts like the water table underground? Thatís the only thing that I can think of as to why this system works. And work it does without much of any intervention on my part.
Hereís a picture of a blushing beauty bell that was put into a pot at the same time as the two in the forefront (white &orange buckets) of the pool. It's healthy but much smaller.
Oldude



This message was edited Dec 19, 2009 7:22 PM

Thumbnail by oldude
Caneyville, KY(Zone 6b)

LOL! "Rough" really wasn't descriptive enough. Once they started blossoming, they actually started looking dead. I was impressed though, that in 7 years, this was the first year of no BER or cracking.

I plan on putting about a third of my tomatoes and peppers, plus 3-4 cucumbers in buckets in pools. The rest will be traditionally grown in the garden. Have several 5' pools already, as we put up 3 per year around our place for our dog-child. With all the emptying throughout the summer, they don't hold up well a second summer for him.

What kind of tomatoes do you both grow?

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