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.
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?
Do you have a pump that circulates water/nutrient in the valley/depression between the two rows of plants? If you don’t 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? It’s 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?
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
I am going to try Twiggy’s way of growing in the greenhouse this fall. Since I don’t 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 kid’s 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 4” 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. It’s 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I dug up two bell pepper plants from my wife’s 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.
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/
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.
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/
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 wife’s plants.
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..
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.
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 don’t 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 don’t know why I did not think of that sooner.
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.
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.
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.
My tomatoes should be farther along but for the last two weeks the green house is struggling to reach 80 degrees. 15” 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.
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.
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.
It’s 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 32” wide 3/8” 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.
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 3”-4’’ deep pool of water acts like the water table underground? That’s 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.
Here’s 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.
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.
Very impressive results. All of those plants are remarkable for this time of the year. Oldude just think of all the time freed up for playing with your exotic fruits. This also works great for cuttings once they're rooted and everything else I've tried.
Msrobin you'll be amazed how fast cukes grow and never any bitterness. I'd recommend that you start some new plants every 3 weeks or so because they seem to kill themselves by over producing.
I had awful problems with squash vine borers this year. Truly worse than I ever imagined. If I had to keep them going for a CSA, I'd have been ruined. The only way I got any at all was to start new plants every couple weeks. The plants grew extremely fast and I'd have been covered up without those &^%$ things.
I've got so much tomato sauce in the freezer that I could cut way back on the # of plants next year. However, I've got many new varieties and can't help wanting to try a lot of them. Many people say the heart shaped ones are the best all purpose type. I grew only 1 this year and I will be trying several more because I was very impressed with Cuore di Bue. It was good sized, meaty but still juicy and the taste was perfect for me. Indian Stripe was the best dark one and Stump of the World was the best and most prolific large beefsteak type. There's a short determinate called Bush Beefsteak that out produced any of the indeterminates and has the looks and taste. If I was selling, I'd plant some of those for sure. Martino's Roma is another that should work well for sales. It's a short determinate that tastes good. Heinz 1439 and Pearson Improved both make good sized perfectly round reds that a lot of people go for. My first and second ripe ones were Black Sea Man (4/30) and Extreme Bush (5/01).
Msrobin it doesn't sound right to me that your plants looked half dead by the time they started blooming. I think you must have had some kind of disease issue. I had several varieties that seemed disease prone and several more that just didn't care for my climate/crazy weather. Most of mine looked fine until mid June when the heat and bacterial spot started working on them. My plan for next year is to have some new plants ready to go in when anything starts looking pitiful.
Thanks to Twiggybuds' inspiration, I started with four of these beds and added a fifth last summer. I could have used even more. I tried many different vegies and herbs with mixed results but the effort to water was worth the trouble. I suspect I used less water and it was used more efficiently as well as supplemented by rain. I was gone for 10 days at the end of June and with no one tending to things, the pots were just beginning to dry, the lower foliage yellowing but still producing tomatoes. My in ground garden would have been done when not attended.
In the beginning I did have problems with mosquitoes. I saw many birds and all my pets drinking from the waterbeds so I was hesitant to treat the water for mosquitos. I finally ground up some garlic bulbs and added it to the water in these beds. That seemed to remedy the problem and still did not deter the pets. Later in the summer, I found the tads and frogs and moved in and the mosquitoes lessened. I hung hummingbird feeders from the trellis and noticed much activity. I encouraged them as they also dined on the mosquitoes.
My comment on the shade for tomatoes. I would have probably had better production in full sun but found there was only a short gap during the peak of summer heat when the blooms wouldn't set. Living in the woods, mine received only three to four hours of direct sunlight in the afternoon from l pm to 4 pm. I found the indeterminates did best and ate my last fresh one on Dec 1st. I will put some things in ground next spring but will definitely garden by waterbed again. Thanks much for sharing the info. pod
Don't cut back on the plants you plant. I suggest that there are many in your community that would love your fresh veggies. If you don't have any idea where to give away food just check Google for your community.
I'm not saying that you should feed the whole world but there are many people who don't have the knowledge or health to grow food.
Pod I'm just amazed at your good report with so little sun. I did notice that my longest lasting tomatoes caught a little mid day shade under the edge of a tree. It was only 2 plants but they were the only ones that even set during July and August.
Now that the frogs and toads know you have water, I predict they'll return earlier and in greater force next year. So much shade may also be aiding your mosquito population. I'm not kidding, I went months without seeing a mosquito but mine are all in full sun. I've also got loads of dragon flies that my mother called mosquito hawks. I wonder if they eat them or if it was a reference to their shape.
Those are some good looking plants. I fixed some supports much like yours in some of my beds. Your bamboo looks stained and maybe varnished whereas mine is just plain. I saved them all to reuse.
I know you must have grown pole beans before and I'd like to know if you think they'd work with bamboo sticks in the pots. I had some beautiful bush beans that the caterpillars destroyed back in October. It rained every day and I couldn't keep them controlled. Pole beans would take less space and shade something else. My tallest sticks are 5'.
Lonejack never fear. I love growing things, especially food. I'm handicapped and it pleases me very much to be productive and to set an example for others. If I cut back on something it will only be to grow a different crop instead. My neighbors receive all they'll accept of my extras and so do my visitors. I even plant things I don't eat because I know others that like them. It feels very good to share and it feels even better when my kindness is returned which it very often is.
This method of gardening is only just past the experiment stage for me and I'm doing my best to spread the word because I think I'm on to something good.
I did grow pole beans and grew them on similar trellises. I did successive plantings. I got a few messes of them but they didn't deliver as I had hoped. I plan to move some beds to morning/high noon sun and afternoon shade and see if that will help. I think although the tomatoes didn't have more sun, they did receive high shade or bright light most of the day which helped. That kept them from scorching.
I had very few "bug" issues with any of the plants growing in water. I was invaded by the tomato hornworms and found them easy to locate and remove with the foliage growing upward in this manner.
The bamboo was harvested down the road from a patch that grows out in the ditch. Many gardeners and fisherman kept the the bamboo pruned which only helps it spread. It was raw and I intended to store it but still haven't taken it down. It will probably rot and I'll have to harvest again next spring.
On the mosquitoes, I think your full sun is a deterrent. I was glad to find success with the smushed garlic treatment which was organic.
Into the soil just outside the beds. Easily done when the ground was wet. I left one side open to access the climbers. The strength came from the angle they were supported. I tried one at a 45° angle and that was too shallow and wobbly. I kept having to retie and add supports to it strengthen it. The taller and more shallow the angle the better they held the weight.
You may not want to build them as tall as these were and that should make them more stable too. I spanned the length of each bed that had them. I had posted my meager photos near the end of this thread. http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1047128/ One was 8' tall. The Porter tomatoes ran up it and down the other side. They were my great success story.
Those look to be doing a fine job for you. I've got some net and will definitely rig up something similar. I can tell you know something about building fences by the way you braced up the ends. I simply can't have plants running out in my aisles so they must go up.
I grew Porter Improved tomatoes in 2008. They do get long but they also set better in the heat than anything I grew this year. They taste good too. I thought I was being smart by skipping them in favor of larger fruted ones and ended up with none. I've kept a few seeds and until something better proves out, I think I need to plant a couple for insurance.
In my experience, the large ones go in ground next year. They hardly delivered in the water beds. I tried three. DH grumbled with no tomatoes. He adamantly refuses to eat the little ones which equals more for me! How high can you reach trellised plants? Perhaps the longer vines can be trimmed?
Ouch on the fences. I have been doing that on my weekends. I can feel it in the muscles this a.m..
I have really enjoyed reading about everyone's experience growing plants in waterbeds. I have experimented with that some myself before going almost completely to stacked container systems. One suggestion I might add is that your containers should be flushed with fresh (no fertilize) water approximately once a week to flush out accumulated fertilizer salts.
Fertilize accumulating in the pots can be detrimental to plant growth. I am looking forward to seeing more of your waterbed postings this coming summer. Twiggybuds!! Look what you done got started!!
Good to see you Jay. It's been awhile so you must have gone into hiding.
I have had almost daily rain for most of the second half of the year so keeping any fert at all was the trick. I think I'm convinced that with the constantly available water the plants use all nutrients more efficiently. I have only my poor sand for a comparison but I actually used very little after planting with a handful of triple 13. Gravity caused good drainage I guess because I kept expecting everything to rot off at the soil line. No losses though.
Pod I can reach about 5'. When I grew the Porters they went up the tripod and back down and half way up again when frost finally ended them. They were a mess but I appreciated those little maters. Principe Borghese sets well in heat too.
I'm still figuring out tomatoes. I planted a bunch of dwarfs and short determinates. The indeterminates are what I need more experience with before drawing conclusions. I started the first seeds before New Years. They were all determinates and continued starting seeds until about the first week in March. I planted them out beginning 03/03 in stages without regard to which type they were. In general, the climbers went out later but there were a couple varieties that went out fairly early. The indeterminates that went out early didn't produce a lot. The ones that went out later did better and the latest ones best of all.
The last ones out were Cuor di Bue and Purple Russian. I had excellent production from those two and they were in 3 gallon pots. The first ones out were Royal Hillbilly, Cherokee Purple and Costoluto Genovese. They were big blooming plants and they mostly just sat there in 7 gallon pots. I'm left to wonder if they got stunted by the cold.
Several determinate types way out produced the big plants and didn't mind the cold. June got way hotter than normal and shut them all down at about the same time. So that leaves a bunch of questions that will only get answered with some more trial and error.
I'm going to start figuring out my grow list and get started with some early varieties right away. I'm really craving some fresh homegrown maters lately.
The peppers are still doing very well. DW just picked all of the ripe ones but you can see the flowers and continuous production of happy plants with the exception of the center bell.
It has some yellow leafs with green veins. I added micronutrients a couple of days ago so maybe that will take care of the problem. They all get the same attention so I am not sure why it is the only one showing this deficiency.
The sickly Jalapeno has recovered and is flowering but I just don’t have room for it in the pool. Bigger pools next year!
The tomatoes are close but the cloudy overcast days just have not provided the sunlight that they need to ripen. Surprisingly the big beef tomatoes may ripen before the black cherries on the far end near the fan.
I have tried a hydroponic system with no luck at all. I tried strawberries and put too much water on them and killed them. I don't remember the name of the system, but I used a nutreint container, pump, 4" pvc, return line and 600w hps & 400w mh lights. I am interested in any kind of really simple hydroponic system for inside primarily, but will also try something outside as I can start the middle of march here in this part of Mississippi. Also, I am interested in growing some Jersey Knight asparagus. I have a 4' x 12' rasied bed . I have sun from about 10am til 2pm. I hope to plant 50 asparagus crowns and I hope I have enough sun. Also, I am getting lemons from a Meyer lemon tree in a large pot. I'm really interested in one or two more dwarf fruit trees that will stay small and be happy in large pots.
Oldude those are indeed very happy plants. They look every bit as good as mine did in their prime outdoors. Those dark green leaves on the majority and all those blooms indicate good nutrition to me. If you're getting such good results with all the cloudy chilly weather, just imagine what you'll have in the summer. I keep hearing peppers love heat...but it seems they aren't so picky after all.
Jerry I've never used a hydro setup but will get around to it some day. I've got strawberry plants I set out in early November looking good, a Meyer lemon and an Anne satsuma all in the waterbeds now. I've also got all the common winter crops doing well.
I'm getting ready to start some early tomato seeds and hope to beat last year's record of the first ripe one on April 30. Try a few in a small waterbed, you'll love it.
You guys are probably tired of seeing these updates so this is the final one. The bell peppers are still doing fine except for the one in the center. It still has the yellow leaf and green vein. I just cannot seem to fix this problem or help this plant. This has been a pleasant experiment with positive results; I have many seeds started in my incubator refrigerator so I need to start thinking about moving this system outside of the greenhouse in the spring.
I started this experiment with as much doubt as anyone but it has proven to be very easy and a practical way to grow things. My experience has been only with bells but I look forward to recreating this with other vegetables.
Ok, again these are the final tomato pictures in the hydro system and they are, well you can just close your eyes and imagine what a fresh vine ripe tomato taste like in January. Don’t be envious since we have had a very cold January with four days of at or close to freezing temperatures. My gas bill is going to hurt!
Can't help it...tomatoe plant envy! So you are heating your greenhouse? Using a real hydrophonic method? Did you try any tomatoes in buckets in pools like you did with the peppers?
Think we've figured out a way to put a GH up next to the house and tie into the heat duct next winter. Our heatpump is too big for our place, so figure we can tap into the heat we're already paying for.
I am a new subscriber to DG and just came across this thread. I am intrigued by the idea and plan to give it a try this Spring. I am still undecided whether to use the kiddie pools or build frames lined with black plastic, but leaning toward the frames and plastic. My concern is that frogs wouldn't be able to get into the kiddie pools for mesquito control. On the flip side, the pools would be much easier to level. Has anyone tried cutting them down so they're not so deep? I have recently put in a fish pond, and plan to use the nutrient rich pond water for a water source. Twiggy, I'm not in a wheelchair, but I ain't a spring chicken either, and this system looks to be just the ticket. Thanks to you and the others for this idea.
All that looks exceptionally fine for January. If they suffered from the big freeze, they sure don't show it. I had started to fantasize that my peppers would keep producing just sitting on the ground in the greenhouse but they're dead wood above the ground. I still have a little hope they'll come back from the roots. That was my original goal anyway but I hadn't planned on 14 degrees.
Oldude I really appreciate that you tried it and that you gave us those wonderful photos. I really think this could help some folks if they'd try it. I eat something most everyday from my pots sitting in the waterbeds. Just this week I can recall tomato sauce, peppers, onion, garlic, pak choi, kohlrabi, rutabaga, lettuce, radish, cilantro and broccoli. That's a lot of $ saved and I enjoyed my health food.
I hope you'll try tomatoes and cukes which really shine. I germinate my tomatoes and peppers in the house and today I took the first lot out to the greenhouse. I hope you have some kind of plan to protect those pretty plants when you move them out. If you left those peppers like that, I bet you could cut them back next fall and they'd go again. I've looked at that tomato pic 3 times already. Just gorgeous.
If you have any secrets for keeping the aphids off the peppers, I sure would appreciate the word.
Welcome to DG Don. There are lots of good people here and you'll love it.
I'm glad you're concerned for the frogs because they're an important part of the system.
Leveling is easy. If you have a fairly flat area you can dig out or you can build up or both. The frame determines the real depth. Say you lay a frame on the lawn. Find the highest point. Dump a few sacks of the cheapest stuff you can find at Walmart and rake it out. Hill it up under your frame at the low spots. The plastic should come out at least a few inches on all sides to protect it from washing out. Those plastic buckets can easily handle 4" of water. I call this building up.
If you can kill the grass for easy digging, find the lowest spot under your frame and dig the rest out to that level. When you think you've got it, fill the area with the hose until the ground is covered and you can immediately spot a problem area and easily fix it with the back of the rake or with the shovel. This is digging out. I often have to do a bit of both. Once you do one of these it will all become simple. Just remember you're trying to make a tray. If you played in the dirt as a kid, you probably already have all the experience you need.
I hope you'll try it and come back to let me know how it works for you. It's time to start seeds in Baytown! Now that you have DG, you'll have the best garden ever.
Twiggy's method by far is less expensive, although more work is required to set them up. Those 5' pools went up to almost $15 this past summer. You can get a lot of milage out of a $10 roll of plastic.
As far as making the pool accessible for frogs, I stacked a couple of rocks (larger one on the bottom) inside and outside the pool next to the edge for them to get in and out.
The more I think about it, the more I think I will go with the frames and plastic. Fortunately, I have a smaller tractor with front end loader and can level out a spot fairly easy. I just rebuilt my pond, so my yard on that side is completely destroyed anyway. All of the rain we have had made the ground super mushy and I left foot deep ruts.
So msrobin, did you put a sign up by the rocks saying, "Frog Entrance"? Just kidding. That's a good idea. I thought that if I used the pools, that I would cut them down to about four inches.
Twiggy, I already love DG. It is an amazing community. I have yet to see one cross word and I have read pretty far back in several of the forums.
Dgal, my apologies...WELCOME to Dave's Garden! You won't find a cross word on here anywhere. Everyone has to play nice in Dave's sandbox. This a wonderful community where many friends are made and we all kind of feel like family. Glad you joined us! BTW, there are regional annual Roundups through most of the country, where DG members meet. I've been to one in Kentucky and had a ball.
LOL! No entrance sign for the frogs, but luckily they have found it on their own. The first resident frog wasn't so lucky. :(
I think Twiggy has almost all of the beds done with plastic. I just happened to have an extra pool I confiscated from the dog. This is a link to a thread Twiggy started last year with several pictures. http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/926516/
The devils made me post this tomato picture in February. Here you go nearly 5” across, 3” tall and pegged out my one pound scale.
Podster, I am saving this one for February’s gas bill. It’s been fun but I am having trouble with gray mold. Got complacent and did not spray every week so it’s going to be a tough thing to pull a couple of plants that are severely infected. Sunshine for the next week so maybe I can keep it at bay with copper and danicol.
This has been an enjoyable thread. Best of luck with the spring plantings!
That is a beautiful mater for anytime, let alone February. My personal best is April 30, 2009 and with all this cold it will be hard to beat this year. But just watch, I'll show you something. I've been looking at tomato pictures all over the web and I'm dying for one.
That gray mold is rotten luck and I hope you can save the rest. If this rain doesn't slow down, it's going to be hard to grow anything this spring. Last fall I couldn't keep spray or dust on anything on account of it. I always get some foliage problems even with normal weather but my seedlings are looking good and I'll give it my best shot.
I tried to go over to tomatoville and view your post there. I even registered and was still denied access. Would you please post a picture of your system here. It seems as though tomatoville is not as friendly as DG.
All I can say is be patient, the folks over on Tomatoville are wonderful, helpful and very knowledgeable. If you cannot gain access to the link, I promise to post here on this forum.
This is my first experience with gray mold and It seem to like a dark warm humid climate of a greenhouse that is experiencing a lot of cloud cover as has been the case here.
Copper and Danicol are preventative but not as much help after the infection. Bonehead dumb of me not to spray every week during cloud cover that has lasted weeks at a time.
Sunlight predicted for most of next week so this means a dryer less advantageous to mold atmosphere in the greenhouse.
Thanks for the return oldude.
We have trouble with mold here in Oregon without the green house, depending on the weather. If we have a lot of overcast days that can happen if we don't spread out the plants to allow enough air to circulate.
How is the air circulation in your green house? I know that Louisiana is very humid on a Dry Day. With cloud cover it might get worse.
I am a missionary to Haiti. We deal with mold and humidity all of the time. We can't use any growing techniques that will foster mold. I know I have wanted to build underground cool storage places but have been prevented because of the wet air. I would just grow
mold. Anything that is stored will get damp.
I have been looking at condensing the water out of the air under the plants for moisture.
The air conditioners at the mission center, used to cool computers that die in the humidity, drip 3 to 4 gallons of water a day. We use the water to fill batteries. It is great distilled water.
I have been thinking of running PVC pipe underground, down about 3 to 4 feet, and slowly circulating the air through. The ground down below the heat or frost line stays a constant 56 to 65 degrees, year around. If one were to slowly circulate the 85 to 90 degree air, laden with moisture at 85 to 90 percent, through the underground pipes, hence cooling it; causing it to loose its moisture to the ground. One might just get enough moisture for good plant growth.
Here is a link that explains using subterranean air circulation to gather heat. http://sunnyjohn.com/
Well enough for now. I think this is plenty to chew on.
Dgal, looks great! You are so going to enjoy this method!
I'm having a hard time figuring out from the picture how deep the water is. It appears to be over 6"-8" deep. If that's the case, I think it's too much. Seems to me, it only takes 2"-3". Need Twiggy or Podster to verify that amount.
Congrats Don. I know you're just going to love your results. It looks nice and level. You might as well get started on another because you're going to want one. It works great for okra, squash and cukes.
Your depth does look maxed out but if you have normal rain it will probably be fine and reduce your need to top it up. The larger the plants get, the faster it goes by transpiration. I'd add a bit more dirt around those maters just to give them some more root space and more bottom heavy. I had some problem with big maters blowing over last year. If it starts raining every day like it did here last year, they might stay a bit too wet. If you have holes in your buckets like those found in nursery pots, they'll send out roots into the water. They're very adaptable.
I think those are potatoes in the foreground and I've had mixed results. In 2008 I didn't put mine in the water until I hilled the last time and they did great. Last year I put them in as soon as first leaves and they did badly. This time I'm doing some of each to see what works best.
I have onions and cabbage doing very well but I've never gotten straightened out from that bad freeze in January. It heaved my strawberries a half inch out of the ground. Most of the winter stuff has bolted and most of the tomatoes are still in the GH waiting for this cold snap to pass. I'd rather sweat than shiver and the plants agree.
I hope you'll come back and let us know how it goes. I think you make 5 of us trying this out...pod, oldude, msrobin, me and you. I'm planning to try corn and melons this year. It works for everything else so ... I'm also going to try some shade cloth so maybe I can get some tomatoes in July and August for a change. I'm wishing all of you great success.
Thanks so much for all of the encouragement. I love this concept and expect great results. The frame is made of 2 X 6's set about halfway into the ground, so the water depth should be close to five inches. I went ahead and filled it up expecting the buckets to wick up some of the water right away. I'll probably maintain it at the recommended 2-3 inches.
Podster - I thought the same thing about adding more buckets. Right now, that's all I have planted, but it will fill up. I am thinking about setting the tomato plants in two rows in the center and having a common trellis for them. Then put smaller stuff on the outside rows. The frame is 4' X 8'. The next ones will be more narrow so I don't have to reach way in to pick tomatoes.
Twiggy - should I add dirt around the plants or raise the whole plant? I know some plants and trees don't like to have dirt much above their roots.
Actually, the plants in the foreground are strawberries. I can see where potatoes might not do well as they might stay too wet.
Question: How would you do melons? I mean, would you train them to lie on the ground outside of the frame, or what?
Here's some shade in AZ. I won't do anything as fancy and I'm thinking of using some bamboo sticks for the frame. Most tomatoes won't set fruit when it gets in the high 90s and the nights stay around 80. The humidity can clump the pollen too. Shade cloth should help keep the dew off. I will get my sauce and such from my spring plants but it sure would be nice to have a few fresh ones all summer. Cukes do better with part shade when it gets hot.
I've got seeds for Toad Skin and Honey Rock cantaloupes and several hybrid Chinese melons. I've never grown any of them. Last year I had good results with winter squash and cukes by tying them to bamboo sticks. The squash went crazy and climbed the tomatoes and their sticks too. Some crawled on the ground. I had several good sized squash that hung unsupported until they were ripe so I figure maybe cantaloupes can too. I've got some mesh onion bags and old shrimp net that I can make slings with. I don't like things on the ground because they're in the way but I think I can lay down some old plastic and let some run. My neighbor cuts my grass and I have to try to keep things out of his way or else.
Don you can fill those tomato buckets up. The stems will root anywhere they are touching the soil. You can either bury the lower leaves or pinch them off an inch from the stem. The more roots, the better the plants grow. Leaves near the ground seem very susceptible to foliage diseases so they aren't important. Many people try to have 12" of clean stem between the dirt and the first leaf once they get some size but I usually wait until they are yellowing to take them off. They will grow so fast with the steady water supply that they can out run lots of problems.
Podster has some photos of some really neat bamboo trellis in the middle of this thread. Teepees are good too.
I think planting your tomatoes low in the pots is an excellent idea. I did that successfully last year. As the plant grew, I added more soil and compost. As Twiggybuds said, it will develop a better root system. I liked it too, as I was ahead on the planting out last year. I could easily cover the pots without worrying about weighting down the foliage on those frosty nights.
I think the tomato plants in the middle of the bed with a community trellis will be an excellent system. I look forward to seeing how you design it and of course, how well it works for you.
I tried golden rind honeydew melons in the w'bed last year but not successfully. Spaghetti and Peter Pam squash was moderately successful. The melons bloomed but I suspect I lacked the pollinators. I trellised them upward as they were a smaller melon. I hope to try some small sugar pumpkins this season.
Looks good dgal!
Have much trouble getting it level? I see the pile of sand so that should have made things a bit easier. I am so far behind with my projects that I will most likely put out a couple of pools this year.
Me too! Don just bring that pretty thing over here and I'll find you plenty to do.
Ya'll will hear me howling all the way to TX and KY if it frosts bad tomorrow night. I planted out more maters today but only in my new bed against the S side of the garage.The first 5 have been there for 2 weeks and doing fine. It's a windbreak and the white siding reflects the heat and light back at them. It's all early varieties that won't be the best but this time of the year anything is good. One is blooming and the others are fixing to. The earliest to bloom is Bloody Butcher and the plants were the most vigorous from the start. I'll have seeds to share later if you are interested.
Now you know the rule is do not plant before Easter, but like you, I don’t listen to the old folks rules. I am going to take a long look at the weather this Friday and abort or commit to planting then. I am turning down the nighttime temps in the greenhouse to try to harden off the toms, but I don’t dare go too low cause of the eggplants.
The tomatoes at the far end are already producing tomatoes and I am running out of pole to support them.
Dgal, that little tractor with the quick hitch is all a person needs to make gardening fun.
Here's hopin you don't get frost, Twiggy. We're only supposed to get to the mid thirties, so not too much worry.
Mater seeds? Absolutely! That's one I haven't tried. I just have Early Girls and a yellow cherry mater. I haven't ever tired any of the heirlooms, but might next year.
Tractor season is starting to pick up. I had three little mowing jobs this week. I do some acreage mowing and light dirt work. Nice little supplement to my retirement and SS. I also have a box blade. If you ever get a tractor, I highly recommend getting a quick hitch attachment. It makes changing implements a breeze. Just back up to it and raise the three point hitch. it hooks the implement and picks it up. Then, just throw two levers and you're done. Don't even have to get off the tractor.
lol. You threw me for a loop there for a minute. It means that little loop (stem) you see when tomato sprouts are trying to get their heads out of the dirt. Mine don't come up head first.
I use nothing but the cheapest potting soil and composted cow manure from Lowes and Walmart for everything, including seed starting. I use it forever so it gets all mixed up eventually. It really is interchangeable to me and I also add homemade compost but never have nearly enough. Anyway no telling what's in it as far as insects, bacteria, etc. People are always going on about the importance of seed starting in sterile conditions.
When I first joined DG I hung out on the prapagation and brugmansia forums and they were praising the powers of hydrogen peroxide so that's where I got the idea. Have you ever had seeds rot before they sprout or had young seedlings turn limp at the soil line and fall over? It's called damping off and it prevents it.
I put several seeds to a pot. I saturate the pots of dirt before putting the seeds in using 1/4 cup to a gallon of water. You can just eyeball it because it really is harmless. Then I use an old Tupperware collander to sift some dirt to cover the seeds. I keep the pots in a tray that holds a half inch of peroxide water. It's best to use it to water with until they get their first or second set of leaves and you can add fertilizer if you like. Soaking tomato and pepper seeds over night can cut a few days off germination time but isn't necessary. For okra it really helps.
Besides sterilizing, it carries oxygen to roots. You can't over water. That was always a big problem for me when I'd use something containing peat.
Don you've just got to try some different kinds of tomato.
Oldude I hope you can get caught up and make a bed later. If you ever have troubles with bitter cucumbers, please try a couple in the pools.
It’s been a while and I said that I would not post any more pictures but I would like to see updates on your progress.
I have started new plants and transferred them outside from this system. The left side of the pond are new but the right side are the same old plants that I originally started.
Great going dude. I see a barrel, tubing and a cord...does this mean you're feeding and aerating in true hydro style? They're looking awfully fine and put mine to shame. I bet you can keep those peppers going til they die of old age, whatever that is.
I sabotaged myself this year. I was convinced that we'd have winter until April and didn't start seeds early. My peppers only have about 4 leaves but I'm setting them out and they're showing their appreciation already. I also figured with a late start I might miss the aphids but still have a few in the GH. I haven't had to spray and they disappear when I put them outside. It's done gotten hotter than I like. I've got 4 peppers that rose from the dead that got froze to the ground just sitting in the GH. They're coming on strong with several new trunks.
I set out some early tomatoes on March 4 and they're loading up with little ones. The first to set was Bloody Butcher, Extreme Bush, Sophie's Choice and Polar Star in that order. Last year I was about finished planting by April but I just finished getting them all out this week. Also have squash and cukes planted out. In the GH I have cantaloupe, zukes, herbs and more hot peppers ready to go.
There hasn't been any real rain here so far this month. That's typical and I'm so glad I'm not growing in the dirt and having to rotate soaker hoses every day. I'll get some pics tomorrow.
Dude have you figured out how deep the water needs to be for those 5 gallon buckets and how often do you have to top them up now that they're outside? I've noticed that once my maters got big, the wind and lower than normal humidity is really sucking the water out of them lots faster.
Lookin good, Old Dude. Since we are doing show-and-tell, here is my little (water bed) garden. Everyone who sees it is impressed, and several have said they are going to try it too. Twig, you may have started something. I, for one, sure appreciate your sharing it on DG.
The maters are loading up. I had to pull everything out of the bed yesterday because I had developed a leak and had to do it before the plants were too big to handle without breaking limbs off. I only lost one little mater, so not too bad.
Here's some lettuce and celery. This bed isn't even holding water. I just pulled these out of a water bed to make room and to give them some shade. It's new and too shallow. I hired a guy last Dec. to make me some new beds and every one is either too deep or too shallow or both as in unlevel. Grrrr!
Here's some more mostly determinate maters. This bed is at the property line and I always plant some for the neighbors. 2 cherries for the little boy and 5 Principe Borgheses for the lady. She won't touch a fine big beefsteak but loves those little plums. I'll close up the gaps because they're closer together than they need to be.
Oldude don't laugh. I'll catch up with you someday. Now you can see what I mean by "sabotage". I'd kick myself if I could reach it. These are all California Chilies which are like an Anaheim. I have others set out but they aren't any bigger.
Hey pod. Just go ahead and plant. You can worry about the stakes later. I'm wanting to put shade cloth over some of my beds so maybe I can get some good production through July and August. I can't drive a stake in my concrete dirt for nothing. I think I'll have to stick some bamboo in the pots and lash it all together. It's going to be ugly and you won't be seeing any photos of that.
By fill in the gaps, I meant in that photo it looks kind of crazy with everything crowded together and a couple empty spots. You may not have notice it but I did. Not important.
Don those strawberries are just beautiful. Mine are blooming and I've had one ripe one. I fertilized the onions and strawberries today. They looked like they needed a boost. I have some strawberry plants in 2 gallon pots and some in 1 gallon. The 1 gallon is working better. I'll get it right next year.
Here's another bed that I took the broccoli out of. This one has some yellow squash that's loaded with little ones but no blooms have opened yet.
I am pleased with the results from this system and look forward to doing it on a larger scale as soon as time permits. It is not better than a hydroponic system but it is much more user friendly and much more forgiving to mistakes or equipment malfunction
Are you using the Florida weave on your tomatoes? Great pictures and the tomatoes look happy.
I would not laugh because I have seen what your garden looked like before the big freeze out. Did you have to replant everything?
Oldude I love the way you put it. I'd be facing financial ruin if I had real hydro rigged up for all the stuff I'm growing and all the stuff I plan on trying to grow. I think I'm up to around 30 beds now. My biggest expense has been pots. I got a break when I found some used ones last year for $.25. So far this year I've only had to buy 60 bags of cow stuff from Lowes at $1.37 and a new roll of plastic for $57. I don't know if I could/would grow on this scale if I had to use city water. Fertilizer seems to go further using the beds than when I worked the dirt.
I can't seem to get anything done for having to replace plastic. I figured the last roll was full of manufacturing defects. I can hold it up to the light and see weak spots. Then today I got to reading the box and it was only 4 mils when all this time I thought it was 6. I made sure my new roll is right. I can usually count on 2 years and sometimes 3 with the 6 mil. I get aggravated real fast when I have to empty out beds just to replace the liner.
Don you asked about pinching...It's a matter of great controversy and personal choice. I wish oldude would have said something about it because I'm curious about how he does it.
I scrolled back up and see that you are growing Early Girl and cherries. I'm not familiar with Early Girl's growth habit but the cherries are usually wanting to take over the world. Growth habits are normally categorized as determinate, semi-determinate, indeterminate and tree. If you look at your main stem, you'll find new stems arising from the axils of the leaves and the stem. On an indeterminate plant, these will turn into a stem every bit as large and productive as the original. In other words, you'll often end up with a massive jungle 6-8 feet tall that requires a cage to contain it. They'll just keep growing until frost kills them. If you want an orderly situation, you pinch out those new growths as they appear and keep the plant to 1 or 2 stems. Generally there will be less fruit but they'll be bigger. Some of mine have gone crazy and I need to hurry up and deal with it.
When you pinch a little sucker you throw it away. If they've gotten too big for pinching, you can use them for starting new plants if you need more. This is a sucker from Heidi, an African plum that I only had one plant germinate. I clipped it, took off all but the top leaves and stuck it in a yogurt cup full of water. It has been in there for a week to 10 days and is now ready to pot up. Some folks just stick them in moist soil and they root fine.
Determinate plants have a reputation as being shorter, mostly earlier and finishing once they set fruit all the way to the top. I grow a lot of them because I'm not able to fool with cages. They can be very productive and aren't usually pinched because they don't keep going forever.
They get a bum rap from most tomato nuts in my opinion. Most of the commercial tomatoes are determinates because they harvest them mechanically which destroys the plants. Most people think that they ripen all their fruit at once and that's it. Some of them do and they're great for canning. Last year I discovered that some will keep going with a new set of very short stems that produce more bloom clusters.
Last year all my tomatoes shut down by late June because it was abnormally hot. So I really didn't get to see all the action they were capable of. I've got a couple varieties picked out to start around May 1 so they'll be just starting to set in late June when the real heat is supposed to hit. Podster grows Porter to get through the heat and I will try them again this year. They're indeterminate and I'll be pinching.
I've gardened for years and have been tempted to just quit with the veggies since I moved to NE FL. If the bugs didn't eat my plants, the heat and humidity got em. DH became an avid gardener a few years ago and we've worked hard on our gardens. We've kept track of this thread since last summer and became convinced we should jump on board and try doing it your way.
He just finished the second of two rather large waterbeds/troughs or whatever you want to call them and here's hoping they do the job for us. So far so good. One bed was dug out and lined; the other was framed of timbers and laid on top of the grass which was then padded with lots of newspapers and extra plastic before the liner went on.
So far we have pots of okra, eggplant, tomatoes, yellow squash, zukes, garlic, onions, different herbs and a few flowers that are happily sitting in an inch or so of water. There are quite a few pots of different hot peppers as well as a dozen bells. I have several pots of the old heirloom crookneck cushaws that I'm watching with great interest and they're sending vines down the yard already. If cushaws will grow with their feet in water, I believe anything else will too.
Your idea is certainly catching on; one of my beds is in my front yard, 16'x4' running alongside my driveway. Visitors do a doubletake when they come in and spot it; one lady brought several friends from her church group to check it out. They left here saying they were going home to plant water beds in their yards. Only a couple of people have looked at us like we're nuts. and I guess their eyes will really roll when they see a shade canopy go up in July. Just wait til they see us remove our well laid out square foot gardening beds and replace them with "water beds."
Yolie I'm so glad you broke silence and it just tickles me to hear about all the things you're growing in the beds. This is not a cure for bugs, heat and humidity but I believe the lack of water stress makes for stronger plants that hold up better against a lot of bugs and disease.
You said your cushaws are running down the yard already and that's a problem I'm going to have to face. Last year I bought probably 4 cantaloupes from the grocery store and they weren't as good as my homegrowns used to be. I'm going to try some of those, Red Doll watermelon, Sugar Pie pumpkin and Lady Godiva squash. I'm thinking of laying down some of my old leaky bed liners for them to run on so I won't have knee high grass and weeds growing amongst them.
My success with growing so many things in these beds just makes me want to try all sorts of things that I'd given up on before or never even tried before. Sweet Potatoes maybe.
I think you're very courageous putting beds in your front yard. I abandoned mine when I became disabled. Partly because I had plenty of space in the back but mostly because the water beds are not aesthetically correct with all the ugly black plastic and lined up like a Walmart parking lot. Now I'm running out of space in the back and thinking about reclaiming the front. Since yours was so well received, maybe mine would be too.
Let us know how your garden grows through the season.
Msrobin I appreciate that you're trying this too. You're under the gun with your new business and I think if there's a drought you'll have some perfect maters for your customers without working yourself to death watering the dirt. In your case, the pools are insurance. It just sprinkled for about 2 minutes here. I'm so glad that I'm not depending on it.
Thanks, Twiggy. I think the tomatoes and peppers are going to be our lifesavers this year. We're going to keep our membership low, but I'm positive with the things already going and what will be started really soon, we'll be able to keep our members really happy! The extra peepers and tomatoes will be sold for additional income. And I'll continue working on setting everything up for our ultimate goal of 30 members.
Have an idea for you based on something you just mentioned. The last two years, I have planted melons and cantaloupes under my bushes and fruit trees and they have done fairly well. I didn't use the plastic, but I did have a nice layer of hay mulch. If you did something like that, the plastic would keep the weeds down, the mulch would look nice and keep the fruits off the hot plastic and the whole thing looks quite attractive. It would look beautiful in any one's front yard or along their driveway.
Allright ~ I am trying a small sugar pumpkin. Got a few potted up and in the waterbed. The reading I've done says pumpkins are not worth the trouble from here south. One book said canned pumpkin is far cheaper and easier. My logic was the smaller might work better in potted conditions and this one is a good eating pumpkin. I have plenty of extra (fresh from Willhite) seed if any of you want to give it a try?
I want to hear your thoughts on the sweet potatoes please? I am currently harvesting slips and have no clue what I will do with them. That little dab of rain passed over here on Mon a.m. and we are already soooo dry the ground is like concrete. I won't be able to plant in ground. I haven't set the bamboo yet either so may miss out on the trellises this season.
By the way, earlier there was mention of a silver plastic mulch? Will that not make the soil retain too much of the moisture?
Podster, been thinking about your sweet potatoes, but didn't have a whole lot of reliable info or facts to back up my thoughts, so didn't mention anything earlier.
I did try some slips in a container (approx 35 gal) a couple of years ago. Got them in late, left town before they were done in the fall, so don't know exactly how well they did. The next spring, it did look like there were pretty good size pieces of sweet potatoes decomposing, so I am guessing they did fairly well. Probably didn't get as big as they would have in the ground, but that's not really a problem. The main thing is too make sure they were well drained and kept on the drier side. I'm wondering why you couldn't build a wide raised row along a fence or something out of the way, to plant the Sw Pot? My Sw Pot rows were about 12-15" high and produced huge potatoes. The "concrete" soil underneath would soften with the looser soil piled on top and some roots would reach that deep. Topped with a bit of mulch, the soil stays just damp enough for the potatoes to grow in that looser layer.
Regarding being worth the effort of growing the pumpkins at home...just about every canned or processed vegetable can be found at a lower price than what it would cost you to raise it. But your's is healthier, it makes you happy to grow it and gardening keeps you out of trouble. I think...LOL!
Pod I guess we had the same idea. I've also got fresh Sugar punkin seeds from Wilhite that I will share if anyone wants them. I've never grown a punkin before but I seem to remember from the Giant Pumpkin thread last year that they have extensive roots. I'm mostly just experimenting and will be astonished if they get any size to them. We've seen how roots exit the holes in the pots in the water beds and I think this compensates for the cramped quarters of the pots. In real hydro systems plants get massive roots without any pot or soil at all. My delicata squash finished quick and had some nice sized ones but only a couple on each plant. I think punkins would act about the same.
I've been considering the idea of sweet potatoes for awhile now and have a rough idea to try. Years ago, I built a 2' square frame out of 2 x 6 lumber, set it on my concrete patio and put a plastic soil bag in the bottom and halfway up the sides. It had a couple small holes in it that allowed it to drain very slowly so it only needed watering every other day. Then I filled it with potting soil and planted flowers. It worked so well that I built 2 more. It retained the moisture much better than a normal container. I'm seriously thinking of making a water bed, punching a FEW holes in the plastic and mounding it up with oak leaves, potting soil and compost to mimic those old boxes.
You might be wondering why I don't just plant in the soil. My soil is nothing but sand. It won't hold moisture at all. Amendments just disappear quickly and the nematodes are awful. It's also very acidic. All of those are huge problems for me and this new approach might solve all those problems and keep the tree roots out. I think it would work for anything else as well. What do ya'll think?
Msrobin that sounds beautiful, like real landscaping. I'm thinking about it. Maybe a small bowl shaped bed like above for a single vine.
Pod that silver mulch supposedly thwarts the squash vine borers and I have some foil faced radiant barrier left over from my house. I'm going to try it. If it retains moisture that will probably be a good thing for me.
Moisture retention in pots in the water bed might not be a good thing. In ground or normal potting conditions I could think so. Please give us a report on that when you try the silver mulch.
Willhite certainly sends enough seeds! Hope they do well or I'll have lots of pumpkin seed to pass on! lol
My "in ground" conditions are similar although we have a bit of clay with the sand which turns it to concrete. Tree roots are an issue here competing with the plants for nutrients and moisture. That is part of the reason I dismantled my waterbeds, I wanted to see if the roots were drawn to the hint of water. That was not an issue but I did find groups of holes eaten into the bottom layer of plastic. That damage appeared to be chemical and I suspect it was from the underlayer of cardboard I had placed to smooth the surface. BTW, this year I leveled the beds with sand and made it much easier.
Quoting: My delicata squash finished quick and had some nice sized ones but only a couple on each plant.
I found last year the waterbed vines did not produce more than a couple of good sized spaghetti or pan squash per vine. I think the answer will be to selectively prune the blooms or fruits to two and allow them to develop to the max. Even with the pumpkins... any thoughts?
I already know I like your method of gardening. After ten years of zero success growing summer and winter squash; they either died when they got about a ft. tall, got taken out by borers or produced bitter and withered nothings...tomorrow I'll be cooking squash raised in my frontyard "Twiggybed." Yippee! Tomatoes and peppers are blooming and setting fruit while the okra and eggplant are looking sturdy and happy.
This front bed is in an area that's separated from the rest of my yard which is fenced in. The strip is about 40'x15' bordered on one side by a concrete driveway and huge azaleas on the other side and one end. I'm in the process of cutting back the azaleas to reclaim more of this strip which has been wasted yard for years. I think I'll set a couple of potted cushaws under the shrubs and compare their growth with the water based ones. I intend to lay down a thcik layer of mulch for them to run on and I'll probably only allow a couple of squash per vine. These squash are what I use for "pumpkin" pie and they store so well. Extras go to food pantries.
I want sweet potatoes too and have my slips going but where to plant them is my problem. Guess I'll try the waterbed since the darn squirrels find em, dig em and feast when they're in my square foot garden beds. The furry critters even dug and devoured my ornamental sp and carried of caladium bulbs. Evidently they didn't like the taste of the caladiums because I found them growing in some really strange places. It was quite amusing to watch a frustrated squirrel trying to climb a big maple while toting a 3' broccoli plant that had been intended for my compost pile. It is not so amusing to have them devour my produce and bark at me when I go near the garden. They don't seem to bother the waterbeds although our neighborhood raccoons may soon locate them.
This picture was early in the season last year, so the vines were still really small. The vines are Sugar Baby watermelons under 2 small peach tree. I planted cantaloupes under some ornamental bushes. It's not as pretty as a big flower bed, but it was quite attractive and a lot less work.
I've got tiny little shoots on my sweet potatoes, but nothing to brag about yet. Sure seems slow putting out slips this year. It's still early for my planting date, though, so I am being hopeful they produce. If need be, I can buy them at fairly close nurseries.
I think I remember hearing that before about canned pumpkin actually being a squash. I don't even remember what pumpkins and squashes I've got planned this year, since it's been so long since I went through my seed boxes. I think we picked up extra pumpkin seeds for a pick-your-own harvest day for our CSA members.
Yolie that's just wonderful that you found a way to grow your squash. I find that summer squash grows like crazy and is very productive if I can just get rid of the squash vine borers. The first year they didn't bother them and last year they destroyed every single plant I tried to grow. My squirrels don't bother my garden...yet, but my son in law stole my 2nd strawberry yesterday. I'm wanting to hear how you like that first tomato. Some of my early ones are silver dollar size.
Msrobin that looks so pretty. It reminds me of those low growing junipers I see planted along foundations in landscaped yards. You're right in that they'd look perfectly fine and they'd be an improvement. I scoped out my front yard today and there are plenty of places that I could do that.
Thanks for the sweet potato link. I should have read that a month ago. I've got sprouts about 1 1/2" and according to the link I need to cover them.
The guide says 1 1/2" of water per week and that's more than the standard recommendation for most other things at 1". I'm still thinking about the water bed with drainage and dirt as I described above. That really is the only way I can think of to overcome all my problems. I think I'll mix up some Roundup and have at it tomorrow. It takes a week for the grass and weeds to die and that's job one. It said to prep the bed 2 weeks ahead of planting. So that's at least 3 weeks away and maybe my slips will grow by then. I think I remember Farmerdill saying that they could be planted all the way to mid June in zone 8 but I'm in a hurry.
Pod I've been pulling out old plastic and finding centipedes, night crawlers, a big spider with eggs, a couple huge toads, lots of mysterious holes and trails, and what looks like mole tunnels. And lots of tree roots. The roots are those small feeder kind and I think they're all over my property because I'm surrounded by huge live oaks. I keep expecting to find a snake and use the rake to pull it back. I haven't seen any holes eaten in it. That sounds very odd and must be chemical. I can't imagine anything actually wanting to eat it.
What are ya'll using for fertilizer in the water beds? I stocked up on triple 8 last year and should have enough to get through this year. I use it straight at planting time and I mix epsom salts and micro nutrients with it for side dressing.
I'm following all you all's directions on the fertilizer. I picked up a bag of organic stuff a couple of months ago that I've used in the tomato buckets with epsom salt so far. Other than that, I don't have a clue what I'm suppose to be doing for fertilizer.
Thanks, Twiggy. Sometimes I worry about how my posts are "read". I am not as knowledgable of gardening as I want to be, but I do a lot of reading and putting ideas into motion. And I'm all about doing things as cheaply and easily as possible. The idea to plant melons under trees and bushes came out of neccessity to help keep weeds down under the trees. It worked great and I thought it looked attractive enough that it could easily be used in an "urban farm" setting.
The Sweet Potato growing sounds kind of intimidating and it's also another beautiful plant to grow for the foliage, too. It's one of the few things I grow as much for the game as for the produce, just to see how many I can harvest. I have grown some great ones. I also lost a whole row of vines one year to the rabbits (tators were fine) and another year a row because the frost got to them before I did. I didn't remember them requiring more water than my regular potatoes, though. I was thinking it was about half as much water. However, I am doing better at growing most things with 2 different methods, just for insurance against any crop failure.
I've tried posting on fertilizers twice and wiped out my own post. Trying again...
I add triple 13 to the soil when planting or adding soil to the tomato pots, add epsom salts monthly and a water soluble fertilizer weekly to all pots and the last two are if/when I remember. GRrr!
I also want to say I add compost to the initial potting soil and finely crushed eggshell for calcium to the layers of dirt and on the soil surface in the tomato pots. I have read that will aid in preventing BER but have often wondered how much calcium is released in the soil as the eggshell is slow to break down. And how much it would require to be beneficial. It may be a moot point but makes me feel good.
Thanks for the fertilizer info, Podster. I'm ready to start planting out my tomatoes and some other summer stuff now...I think.
Is it just me, or are our planting out dates all out of whack, or have they shifted over the years when I was only gardening for myself and not for market? I was looking at optimal tomato planting temps and it is still actually too cold for tomatoes here by about 8 degrees.
Dgal, looks good! Ordinarily, I would have taken the chance and had mine in the ground already, too. But I have about 75 plants and didn't have anything on hand to make frames in case I had to cover them against frost, and I couldn't risk losing them. I started them in the house, moved them up to 1 gal pots in the greenhouse and now have the greenhouse open all the time. They should be pretty hardy by now. LOL
Part of the reason I was holding back was because I read where low temps (under 50-55) was part of the cause of BER. Don't quote me on that yet, I want to verify it again, but I'm pretty sure that is what I read.
I think the main problem with planting tomatoes early is the risk of a frost. If the ground is still too cold the plants will just sit there and sulk. Like Dgal did, when you gamble you stand a chance of getting a jump on it or of getting nipped in the bud. lol
I don't know if the planting dates are out of whack but I sure am! Been on overload for too many other things to worry about this but when I potted the tomatoes up and moved them out, the plants have responded well.
Dgal, your crop looks great. Please keep posting to let us know how you do... I think your trellis is a good design for these types of beds too.
Don that's a good looking trellis that should work well for you. Friday night and Saturday I got all the rain a person could want. My plants seemed to jump up by inches overnight. Absolutely nothing works as well as rainwater. It almost turned ugly this afternoon with high winds and my biggest tomato plant at the end of the row blew over. A couple little green maters came off but the biggies held on.
I haven't accomplished a single significant thing since my last post. I did plant 2 short rows of Big Boy peas (from Wilhite) in the ground. Those 2 rows are the only in ground gardening I do and peas are the most useful and easy thing in my sorry "dirt". I separated some more hot peppers and repotted them. Got a few more tomatoes tied up. The sun is supposed to be out for a perfect day and I'm ready for daylight.
I've got so much to do I hardly know where to start. I'm still bogged down replacing plastic. About half my beds are full of hundreds of pots of daylilies. I've lost interest in them but my labels are so faded that I have to wait for blooms to ID them. I haven't tried to sell any for the last 2 years. No ID, no sales.
A guy is opening a frutteria about a mile down the road. He's been telling folks that he'll buy their produce. I'm sure I'll have surplus tomatoes and peppers and I'm hopeful that I can peddle some of it to help support my habit. I don't see how he can make it unless he can draw some traffic off the interstate and that seems unlikely. I wonder if anyone around here has ever had heirloom tomatoes.
Msrobin I've had a very little BER on those long paste type tomatoes. Opalka to be exact and it was not caused from lack of water. I've read a lot about BER and I think, since it only happens on the first fruits, that it's a matter of the tops outgrowing the roots. The vascular system picks up nutrients from the roots and the photosynthesis process and recirculates around the clock just like ours does. I read somewhere that when the tops are rapidly growing, like they do in the water beds, in the early spring that they may not have developed all the little root hairs to pick up enough micro nutrients such as calcium. At least it sounds plausible. I used to have to throw out half my tomatoes when I grew them in the ground and that was definitely from erratic watering.
It sure is interesting the different behaviors plants have and the resulting concerns of the growers. I know all about blossom drop from heat but not cold. I find that a bit of a puzzle since I always put out some plants when there's still a real chance of frost. I've found lots of different ones that will set in the cold.
I really think it has more to do with the age of the seedlings because if the blossoms will open, they set pretty good even when the nights are in the low 40s. Usually the advice given by the universities is geared to commercial growing and even when it's adapted to the home grower I think they draw most of it from their commercial experience. Most people in their right mind don't put out big plants when they know they're likely to get frosted. Unlike me.
I ordered some of that bright orange flagging tape from ebay to tie up my maters. I got orange because it was a lot cheaper and only started using it on a couple plants when the other ran out. I just got new glasses and also got a cheap pair of reading glasses for the computer which work very well. I looked out and saw a couple bright orange spots and got all excited. I knew it couldn't be tomatoes but I had to change glasses to see what kind of flower was blooming. Awhile later it almost got me again when I thought I saw an open blossom on the squash that turned out to be dandelion. I guess it's time to get on the right glasses and go see what's happened overnight for real.
Growing for the CSA has put a whole new light on my gardening. Ordinarily, I don't garden with much thought. But this is extremely important for our future income, so I'm trying to do everything right.
I wonder if the blossom drop hot or cold temps issue has anything to do with the range of temperatures in a given day. Or maybe, with you all being in the south, your soil temperature, even it turns cold at night, doesn't get as cold as our soil, because it warms up more during the day than ours would?
I don't know, but I do agree that the Univ studies are geared more for commercial growing.
Suppose to dip to 41 tonite, but these plants are going out tomorrow. Some of my tomatoes in the 1 gal pots are over 18" high.
Growing for the CSA has put a whole new light on my gardening. Ordinarily, I don't garden with much thought. But this is extremely important for our future income, so I'm trying to do everything right.
I wonder if the blossom drop hot or cold temps issue has anything to do with the range of temperatures in a given day. Or maybe, with you all being in the south, your soil temperature, even it turns cold at night, doesn't get as cold as our soil, because it warms up more during the day than ours would?
I don't know, but I do agree that the Univ studies are geared more for commercial growing.
BTW, I have one cherry tomato in an ebucket. It appears to have vermic. wilt. I compared leaf pictures I found online. What do I do with it? Burn it?
Suppose to dip to 41 tonite, but these plants are going out tomorrow. Some of my tomatoes in the 1 gal pots are over 18" high.
On Sunday, I took a pod of garlic and separated the cloves. I chopped them in half and added to the waterbeds to use as a repellent. I was surprised tonight (Tuesday) to see something odd floating in the water. Look what I fished out...
Hydro garlic this one was a whole clove but other chunks are sprouting too. Amazing!
Amazing is right. That thing sure was lightening fast. I wonder can garlic grow through the summer. I shorted myself when I planted last fall and I know I'll be having to buy it later in the year. Pod if you pot that thing up I'd like to know how it goes.
Last January I got 2 bundles of onions from Dixondale. The Short Day Sampler foliage is seriously yellowing so I think they're finished. That's just in time since the onions from the store are bad in the center and expensive. Last week I used the last of my dried ones. The other sampler which I forget the name had Candy, Superstar and a red. That foliage is still decent looking. Best of all are the ones I started from seed. They were tiny little thread like things when I set them out and I got them started 6 weeks late. I will get some fresh seed and start onions in early September.
My point is that I've often read that onions don't like wet soil and that they're shallow rooted. Both claims seem wrong to me. I have some roots coming out into the water and no rot in sight even with the wet winter I had. I think this is a good example of why people think I'm crazy when I try to explain the waterbeds. It totally goes against everything recommended by the experts.
In my last post I mentioned my new glasses playing tricks on me...well the squash (4) was blooming. I expect to eat yellow squash by the weekend. Yaaaay! I'm starting more seeds today. I found a caterpillar on a tomato plant yesterday so get ready for it.
Msrobin I don't know V wilt from shinola but if it's contagious I'd be destroying it and not using that soil for anything else that could be affected by it.
Don you dog! I don't have anything even looking like turning. You and oldude will be eating tomatoes first. He hasn't shown us his maters lately but I know he's got some bearing. So tell me again what variety that is. The only cherry I'm growing is Koralik which is supposed to be ready in 55 days. They lie.
I suspect with the moisture, yes, garlic could grow thru summer. May be wrong but it would not be the first time. My instinct was to leave this in the water but sounds like you would like me to pot it up and waterbed plant it just for grins?
Msrobin ~ on the verticullum or fusarium wilt, it acts as though the whole plant is damping off. I have one of these fungus in the ground soil here ~ another reason for the water beds. Here they call it cotton root rot. If it is, that lies in the soil. It will affect many fruits and vegetables and as it lives in the soil, you don't want to contaminate it with that ebag of soil. http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/3000/3122.html
Thanks, Podster. The article said "Whenever practical, remove and destroy infested plant material after harvest". It was a cherry tomato in an ebucket and had recently started blooming, but hadn't started producing yet. I didn't want to take a chance on the disease spreading, so I burnt the plant. Wonder if I sprinkle the soil over burn pile, if the heat of a bonfire would kill it. If not, what do you suggest I do with the potting mix? It was only 1 bag, so no big loss.
Congratulations Don. I can almost taste them. I bet those are Sungold. I grew 1 plant last year and they tasted very good but had the tough skin as you said. They bear for a long time so you will get to enjoy plenty of them. I notice you are keeping silence about the strawberries. Any action with those? I got 2 today. That makes #4 and 5. I had visions of strawberry shortcake but I don't see that happening at this rate.
Pod I'm just curious to know if garlic will grow in our zone in the summer. Everything I read says plant in the fall and harvest in May or June. I'm interested in extending the seasons for lots of things. I had 3 leeks in a pot last year and they seemed willing to go on forever.
There has been a lot of wind here this spring and I finally just gave up waiting for calm and went wild with the Roundup in my front yard this morning. I got my new spot for the sweet potatoes sprayed. I also tried to kill everything around my 2 trellises so I can try some pole beans in the ground. Maybe the nematodes have starved to death or moved on since it's been so long since I gave them something good to eat.
This is #4, Twiggy. However, the squirrels got to #1 just before I did (there is a chicken wire cage around them now) and some sort of insect or worm got #2 and 3. Whatever is was ate a groove out of them. I dusted them good with Seven Dust. Hope I can still eat them. Any suggestions on something to put on them that would be better? There are a bunch of little ones coming on.
Here is a miniature waterbed that I did because I miscalculated my soil mixture this year. I was attempting to get better aeration with the use of rice hulls and the mixture just did not hold enough water. It works fine outside where I have the irrigation system coming on twice a day but I did not get around to installing it for the caged tomatoes in the greenhouse. I came home from work a couple of times and found the tomatoes wilting so I tried this and it is working. I hold a bout 3” of water in the red dustpans and that is just about the same level of water that I use for 5-gallon buckets in the kids pool.
You guys have really nice crops in the waterbeds and anyone looking through this post should not have any apprehension to try it.
Twig as per your request about pruning.
Boy I am really reluctant to get into a discussion about pruning tomatoes but this is what I do. When I grow tomatoes “indeterminate” trained to a single stem and supported by string and tomato clips, I cut every sucker that I can find. I cut away the bottom foliage and force the plant to grow continuously upwards. As soon as a cluster of tomatoes ripens I remove all the foliage below the cluster. Having said that about indeterminates, I do not trim “determinates” at all except to remove some of the lower foliage near the soil.
This is a picture of the indeterminates in my greenhouse that I quit pruning when I picked my first tomato from the outside grown crop. This is the left side towards the outside wall of the greenhouse. In the previous picture you can see that I just kick the vines to the side or clip to maintain a walkway between the caged determinates.
Again this is such a controversial subject that you just have to come to your own conclusion.
Don I think your problem with the strawberries is either slugs or pill bugs. I haven't had problems with those in my pots although they used to get some of my strawberries on the ground. I've read all kinds or remedies for them. Some people say crushed egg shells work. Some say a saucer or jar lid with beer works. I know all the garden centers sell Sluggo or some other kind of bait. Maybe someone will come along that knows more.
Oledude I knew you were enjoying tomatoes while the rest of us are still dreaming about a nice BLT. That's a good solution to the problem. I will have some maters in the greenhouse next winter and maybe the kitchen too. That will be my watering mechanism.
The season is barely started and I'm already all messed up with a lot of my pruning. I've been so busy planting and replacing plastic that I've neglected to keep up. The plants are growing like crazy. I got so aggravated with some of my jungle that I cut the main stem so I can restart with a low growing sucker. It should also extend my peak harvest somewhat.
I'm also experimenting with the MO method. I'm trying a lot of hearts and pastes that have very wimpy foliage. I fear that they'll suffer sunscald as it is so I'm trying to leave as much as I can without having a bunch of suckers. I pinched out the growth tip on some so the leaves would continue to grow but hopefully not the stems. I really think it's going to take a few more seasons to get all this figured out.
It has been threatening rain for 3 days and finally just started about an hour ago. I rushed around like the chicken with its' head chopped in anticipation and then just wait, wait wait. I managed to get all the tomatoes, squash and cukes side dressed and the rain should make them jump. I think rain has a lot of dissolved oxygen that they like.
Msrobin did you get any of those awful storms? I sure hope it didn't damage anything. There sure seems to be plenty of troubles to go around. I'm just worried sick about the seafood and all the birds and critters here on the coast.
My main garden was looking like it was going to become a waterbed garden. After 2 days of rain, with over 6" total, my nice high wide rows were totally surrounded by 18" wide moats of 3-4" of standing water. This morning only about one 12' length of one path has standing water. Not too bad for drainage! All night Friday and Saturday nights we were under severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings, but nothing came of it, not even any strong winds. Very fortunate here.
Suppose to have 4 days of 70-80's and sunshine, so hopefully can get some more of the garden in. I started several seed trays a couple of days ago of squashes and melons and a couple of lettuces and greens. By the time they are ready to transplant, I should have all of the garden rows prepared.
We received virtually no moisture so once again, glad to be waterbed gardening. This a.m. I fished out a couple of sprouted garlic and potted them up. We will test drive garlic in the waterbed. I won't know what kind they are as I didn't dig from my own patch. The ground is too dry and packed. These were from the grocery ~ 25 cents a pod.
Twiggybuds ~ when you say you sidedress, what do you use?
Msrobin it's good to hear you escaped the worst of it. All my beds are running over for which I'm grateful. I actually watered two beds late yesterday because it looked like I wasn't going to get any. I found out last year that if my tomatoes get too dry and then I get a big rain that they can crack just like growing in the ground. I've got some good sized ones and they really should start turning any day.
Pod I use the micro nutrients from the following site but don't follow the recipe exactly.
Last year I used the last of my triple 13 at planting time and ever since I've been using triple 8. They seem to work equally well. I got a 50lb sack of Epsom salts from the farm store. I save all my big coffee cans for my fert mix. I use an empty 8oz tomato sauce can to measure. 2 cans = 1lb. To a coffee can I put 5lbs fert, 12 oz Epsom salts and 2 oz micro nutrients. When they start blooming, they get a rounded tsp. every week to 10 days. I make up several of the coffee cans at a time and they work very well to keep out the moisture that would make it clump up or turn to stone. The Maxwell House cans have a nice handle.
Some people add extra nitrogen and lime but so far I haven't. I don't have to use nearly as much fert as I used to when I grew stuff in the ground. I really think the water allows the soil microbes to build up and work optimally along with the micro nutrients. I plan to add a tablespoon of lime to all my pots this fall because I had some issues with my cole crops. They didn't get the micro nutrients either. I really need to buy one of those ph testers.
The garlic will make a nice experiment. I just fed mine a couple days ago. It came from the grocery store too.
I'm sick. Sunday all my tomato plants looked perfect. Yesterday before dark I looked them all over and found 3 plants severely wilted. This morning there are a couple dozen. Plus I found 3 caterpillars eating up one plant. It looks like I have some serious problems. One pepper looks like it might be affected. The eggplants are still in the greenhouse.
I've been reading on the net and there is no cure. It can persist in the soil for 6 or more years. The only constructive advice from the universities is to plant resistant hybrids. I have seeds for 4 of them but no plants. I guess I'll start some seeds.
Right now this is just too big to get my head around. I think I'll take a wait and see. Whatever is left standing is what I'll have.
I am sorry to hear of your misfortune. If it were wilt, it does live in the soil and I would be reticent to use it again. I had wondered about reusing the soil but I did dump the pots and mix all together before refilling.
On the other hand, I wondered also when you said you had recently sidedressed your plants prior to rainfall. Is it possible that burned the roots or caused the damage?
Thank you all for your sympathies. All day that old saying about pride going before a fall has been replaying in my gourd. I've had so much good results in years past that I guess it's just my turn for the crud.
I think this is a soil borne disease called fusarium wilt or another one called Southern Blight. I've been using some of the same soil since 2005 and purchasing more every year as I've expanded. I can't blame any one source because I mix it all up.
I just want to reassure you that this is not related to the water bed culture. This mess is distributed around the world.
Tomatoes are my first love but I've got plenty more going on. I've even got some more tomato plants just up. I'll try to show some pics tomorrow.
On the wilt, we have it in ground here which is another reason I like the waterbed gardening method. It is odd though as I have had two tomato plants in ground within 10 feet of each other, one wilts and dies and the other is fine. Here it is commonly called cotton root rot and the soil can be chemically treated but I suspect only financially feasible for commercial growers. And in thinking about it, when I have lost plants to wilt, it has been right after a good hard rain. It always appears when the soil is drying out and a person thinks surely that plant can't need more water. I wonder what it is about rainfall that triggers the wilt.
Not to worry, your waterbed garden hasn't lost this convert. Please keep us posted on your thoughts and research. Life is a learning process. When I am too old to learn, I will be pushing up... tomatoes.
Pod your description sounds right on the mark for this mess. I couldn't find any more plants wilting today so maybe it's stabilizing. They're just holding steady and nothing has turned brown yet. As long as it doesn't wipe them all out I can live with it.
I apologize for being such a wimpy whiner. So please just accept that I'm overly passionate about my maters and I was scared of how bad it was going to get. I feel like the boy that cried wolf.
I accidentally gave away all but one of these plants. It's Bloody Butcher and I stumbled upon the first ripe one of the season this morning. It was planted 03/04 and that makes 61 days. It has an impressive amount of fruit set on. They're supposed to be about 4 oz.
Don it looks like you solved your slug problem. I got to eat one today too. It's so nice to find those little treats.
I went to pull an onion this morning and decided to pull all of the Short Day Sampler that I ordered from Dixondale. The tops were in such bad shape that I figured I better get them while the getting was good. The ones I started from seed are bigger and the tops still look fine.
I ate yellow squash again today. The plants are absolutely loaded down but the fruit don't get more than 4" long and are hollow in the middle. I think they aren't getting pollinated. The cukes have been blooming for several days and I don't think they're getting pollinated either. I haven't used any pesticides last year or this year and I'm just completely disgusted over not having any bees. I saw a few back when it was still chilly and had high hopes but haven't seen any in quite awhile. I'm going to try pollinating myself tomorrow.
Msrobin I hope you're feeling frisky this morning so you can attack all your chores.
Don you're doing great. My peppers are just setting on buds but nowhere close to opening. They all survived the aphids and I'm still eating peppers out of the freezer.
I got about 5 ripe cherry tomatoes but I really planted them for the little boy next door. I told his mama to let him pick all he wants. It's only 2 plants and they're early determinates.
My big news is that no new wilt problems have shown up and some of those plants look recovered. The real sick looking ones are going to be put out of their misery today.
The squash I hand pollinated will be for supper tonight. They grew fine while the others are still sitting there withering. I can eat the babies too but only the neck part because the rest is hollow.
Saturday night I had 2 Bloody Butchers in a salad and it was wonderful. Don I know you'll savor that Early Girl. That was the first fresh tomato I've had since early July last year. Yesterday I found 2 more blushing. I highly recommend ya'll let me send you some seeds of this for next year. I've got the other super early ones loaded out with nothing turning yet. I've begun to talk dirty to them.
My sweet potato slips are growing and the space for the bed is turning brown. I'm going to try some in pots too and try to get them to climb on bamboo sticks.
Just hold on until I get some seeds saved. Everything that gets ripe in the next couple weeks is probably going down the hatch. I usually eat so many I get sick of them and then they can go in the pot. I'm still craving a BLT so bad. Those Sungolds look real appetizing. Last year I liked sitting by the bush eating them while I scanned the pepper plants for some ripe ones.
This afternoon the little boy went right to "his" plants and started picking and eating some that were only turning. I told him it was better to wait til they were red but he never slowed down. His mom seemed to think it was ok so as long as he ate them I guess it's alright. He'll really let loose on my blue berries in a few weeks.
I'm so happy with our gardens this year! We have a fairly large area to plant in, about an acre with veggie beds intermingled with flower and herb beds. We have eight 8'x4' beds used for square foot gardening methods. Then there are my two "Twiggy Beds." Wow! The two beds with water look like mini jungles out there and make the rest of the yard look really sick.
I'm getting ready to pick our third harvest of yellow squash with the zukes competing for attention. None of the tomatoes are turning yet and it turns out most of my plants are cherry and patio. The squirrels ate, yes acturally ate, several of our Black Krim plants. They chewed the entire plants down. We do have about a dozen Brandywines, Romas and Beefsteaks that are loaded with blooms and fruit. Best looking tomato plants I've ever tended.
Eggplants haven't bloomed yet but it's still early and the okra will be ready to cut in a few days. Both our hot and sweet peppers, over a hundred plants, are looking good with the best looking ones sitting in that water. I ended up putting my bunching onions over in a big old junked wheelbarrow and learned my garlic really didn't seem to like so much water. I think I'll keep my sweet potatoes in big tubs and barrels this year with screening over the top to keep squirrels away from the tubers.
I do believe your method is the only method we'll ever use for growing winter squash. We have my old heirloom cushaws planted in five and seven gallon containers, they are running and blooming like crazy. We've been laying scrap plastic down and covering it with a thick layer of leaves for the vines to run on. They're actually putting roots out in the leaves and I've cut back my big azaleas on that side of the yard to give them plenty of roaming room.
All in all, I'm impressed and totally grateful to you for starting this idea. I have frogs living among the pots, dragonflies perch on stakes around the plants and I love watching the birds checking for insects. Toads have burrowed in around the edges of the beds and made themselves at home. It's a wonderful mini world out there and we're doing all we can to keep the bumble bees and honey bees visiting.
My neighbors still think I'm crazy because "no one" would plant tomatoes and eggplants in a flower bed. Ha! And certainly "Nobody" can grow vegetables standing in water, and yada yada yada and by the way , they sure would like some maters when they ripen. (they know we'll share the bounty.)
Visitors still do doubletakes when they first spot the Twiggy beds but often return to check the progress while the joggers and dog walkers slow down to peer thru the shrubbery to see what's new. Master gardeners I've talked to are eagerly waiting to see the final harvest results, seems Jax has never seen such a wild way of gardening.
I'm having a ball and envision changing the square foot beds into eight more Twiggy beds next year.
Ha ha. "Nobody can grow vegetables in standing water." l guess we're all just a bunch of nuts. Yolie I'm so glad you're having some good results. It sure puts a lot of fun back into gardening to see your efforts count. You better watch out, you'll be the talk of the town.
Brandywine tomatoes set off the rage for heirlooms nationwide. I've never grown them because a lot of Southerners say they don't care for our climate. So I'd like to hear your views on that after you have a chance to compare them with your others. I surely hope you can get some control of the squirrels. That was just rotten to destroy all the Black Krims.
Somebody in your house is a serious pepperhead. I thought I had a lot. I have a lot of hot ones for my son and I told him he'd have to pick them. I like bells and those wedge shaped sweet ones. If you have any bells that do exceptionally well, I'd also like to hear about that. I'll always enjoy trying new things but I really want to collect some dependable tried and true vegs that I can plant every year.
Msrobin I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you to meet your schedule. My nerves just couldn't take it. I think your members would be tickled to death with some cherry maters and the promise of things to come.
Tonight I will have some more homegrown salad and yellow squash. I'm still having to do the hand pollination and fixing to start with the cukes too. They've been blooming for well more than a week and nothing growing yet. In the past few days, I saw only 1 butterfly and 1 bumble bee. That's pitiful. Another bad sign is that usually I have several geckos and tree frogs on my glass door at night dining on small bugs attracted by the light. They've been few and far between. I did see more lady bugs this year than ever before. It's just a mystery.
Lots of ladybugs, frogs and butterflies here. Now I wish for a little of the rain that we were/are suppose to get this week.
Not too stressed about the start of deliveries, because we will run 20 weeks regardless of when we start. Not worried about having asparagus available the first few weeks. These strawberries worry me, because they will be done in a couple of weeks. But I'm going to order some everbearers today and they will be ready in 5-6 weeks after planting.
Don you must have been holding out on us. How did you get those peppers so quick? Did you winter over some plants from last year? All I have is buds. I WILL start earlier next year and pray for a mild winter. That picture makes me think about salsa, with some sweet onion...yum.
I think you and yolie are doing a lot of good in showing people this easy way to grow stuff. You're helping your friends and neighbors and having your own reward. Hard to beat. I just had a dmail from someone wanting to try buckets in a kiddie pool. I told her to come on over here and join us.
Msrobin it sounds like you will be sure to look out for your members. My crystal ball says they'll tell their friends and you'll sign up a bunch more for the next round.
I've got 3 more lettuces which are going fast now that the tomatoes are coming in. Have any of you ever had success with lettuce in the summer? My shade cloth came in today and I'm going to try it.
Here's what greets everyone entering my driveway. I crack up when people first start checking it out. You can see where I really chopped back the old azaleas to give the cushaws running space. Well I didn't do much hacking, a friend from MD was visiting and did most of the hard work. Heck, eveybody knows I'm a cushaw nut and I'll let them have the whole front yard if they want it. I'm picking squash, cutting collards and drying dill and basil from this area. Somewhere in this jungle is an orchid tree, several marigolds and even some sunflowers.
The tomatoes are loving the water! The squirrels have left me a total of 4 Black Krim out of 20 and they have good sized fruit now.
The Brandywines are blooming, they've done fairly decent in pots for me in the past. I'll let you know how the water affects them. The Beefsteaks and Patios are loaded and it looks like I'll soon be drying cherry tomatoes around the clock. I messed up with my seeds and now have 56 cherry tomato plants.
My peppers are planted everywhere; some are in the back Twiggy bed, some are in the square foot garden beds. I have some in pots and buckets and lots are planted in my flower beds. When hubby discovered half a dozen extra cayenne seedlings in 4" pots, he stuck them in a cactus bed out front where they seem to be right at home.
Yep, I'm married to a major pepper head from TX and he want's his peppers every meal. I can peppers, freeze peppers, dry peppers. I make my own Tabasco sauce, flavored vinegars and chili powders, make a version of pepper oil that will fry your tongue and honestly by August I'm fairly sick of hot peppers. I have the standard jalapenos, the old fashioned long twisty cayennes, tabascos (two are 10' tall trees in pots that are about 15 years old and have traveled from TX to FL and I have pics of DH standing on a ladder picking peppers to prove their size) I grow the teensy weensy bird's eye and the hot hungarian wax, pimento, poblanos, and a couple of wee little ones I don't even know the name of. This year I'm trying the Holy Mole. My sweet peppers are the sweet bananas and I've had really good luck with the Big Bertha and California Wonders bell peppers. I could never have too many bell peppers! AND if I should be so lucky, they can be shared with neighbors and friends as well as our local food pantries and soup kitchens.
I have friends who have no place to raise a garden and like you, I enjoy sharing. I also have several blueberry bushes and citrus trees that I gladly share the bounty from. Grandmother taught me to always leave enough food for the critters and birds which I do and still get plenty for my own use. My only peeve about sharing is the large number of healthy well-bodied folks who could garden and won't; then expect me to grow, harvest and deliver veggies and fruits to them.
I see lots more veggies and a dozen more Twiggy beds in my future. Oh yeah, now you're being copied in MD and VA.
Yolie I'd have to walk over and look too. You've got it packed and with such an assortment that it just begs attention. I bet that is as intensive as your square foot beds. That wood strip dresses it up nice. Waterbeds in MD and VA pleases me. I think anyone that sees it in practice is sure to be impressed.
I think you've got more cherry toms and peppers than some of the market gardeners. I've finally got enough tomatoes coming in that I'm already slacking eating them and it's only been a week. I've got some sacked up to give my feeble aunt and uncle tomorrow. They'll be surprised.
I also get aggravated with people that don't try to help themselves. If they don't want to garden for whatever reason I can accept that. But I know people with yards full of grass that get food stamps and they're able bodied. Those are the ones that I get extremely upset over. Too much poverty that we're always hearing about is self inflicted/perpetuated and therefore mis-labeled.
I enjoy sharing but it burns me up when people have the audacity to ask for something such as my finest green tomatoes to fry. Those same people have no use for my extra tomato plants. I guess they think I'll take it as a compliment when they inquire whether the plums are ripe yet or the tomatoes. Just because I gave them some once doesn't mean I have surplus forever. Grrr.
Something has stepped up to start pollinating just in the past couple days. Ants are all I see. I've got lots of yellow squash and cukes growing normally. The zukes just started blooming yesterday and it's too soon to tell. Lots of blooms open on peppers today. I fed everything their spoon full and now it's raining. It's been 2 weeks since the last it always does a lot of good.
I set out 5 eggplants today. I've never grown them before because the only recipe that I know of that I like is parmigiana. I don't know yet what I'm going to do with them but they're so pretty growing that I felt like giving it a go.
I agree and think the key to it is ever giving them away for free. I get aggravated when I give away extra tomato plants. Nine times out of ten ~ they profess to want them and then let them die. Had they paid for them, they would feel obligated to plant them.
Yolie ~ glad to see you join us. Sounds like the Twiggybuds waterbeds have another convert. On my second year and can't believe how labor free they are. No weeding, digging, no daily watering ~ it is wonderful.
I see my pumpkin blooms opened this a.m. Off to play in the waterbeds...
I'm trapped in the house for a VERY rainy day. Msrobin I know you're proud you pushed yourself to get most of it planted ahead of the rain. Great timing and maybe divine intervention.
Pod I saw you mention waterbeds on another forum (tomato?). You better watch out. You'll be perceived as a nut case and lose all credibility. This is about the only place/thread I feel comfortable talking about it. Raised beds rule. Everybody knows plants can't possibly grow in standing water. If anybody is on dial up or wants a new thread, speak up. I've certainly enjoyed this thread. It reaffirms my sanity which feels good. I learn plenty of good things here on DG and it feels good to give something back even though our numbers are small.
I am laughing at what you just said since I have had the same reaction when I mention it. I think they would easier believe that I had seen a UFO. Honestly, I would not have tried this if I had not been familiar with roots being constantly wet in hydroponics systems.
You are so right about giving people plants. Now I germinate only 10% above my needs and only give plants to friends that I know will use them. In the past I have had people beg for plants and later found out that they had given them to their friends.
Shush, mum is the word. This growing system will be our little secret! Smile!!
I have strived for the past 60 years to be thought of as different after all who wants to be like everyone else? If I am thought of as a "nut case", I will smile and say thank you. After all, if they are talking about me, they are giving someone else a much needed break! LOL
Podster, I read and reread this thread before actually trying it because this goes against everything I thought I knew about gardening. I raised gardens in VA, TX and FL with FL being my biggest challenge and I am just thrilled and bragging to everyone about my first FL squash in 10 years.
The only plants most of my acquaintances want me to give them are the flowering plants, the veggies are just too much work.
Here's a couple of the peppers that will NOT grow in standing water. OOPS.
That pumpkin flower does it. Now I find it necessary to build one more water bed this year and pick up some pumpkin seeds at Lowes. All I have growing in that family is crook and straight neck yellow squash, zucchini and two varieties of cushaw. I can already see the cushaw is taking over the driveway side of my front yard. I'm hoping to provide lots of "pumpkin" pie filling around my little community but hadn't thought about raising real pumpkins.
Twiggy, please keep your thread going. It's been an inspiration for me and I really would like to keep up with how others are faring with their water gardens.
LOL Yolie ~ I have lots of seed for this pumpkin and will gladly share? If you are interested, this is the description for these seeds.
"Small Sugar pumpkin
115 days. This variety is famous for the making of pies. Small handy size but good producer. Fruits round 6 to 8 pounds, flattened at ends, rind hard, smooth, deep orange, somewhat ribbed. Flesh thick, sweet and dry, bright orange color and high quality. Sometimes called New England Pie."
Just dmail and let me know if interested.
Twiggybuds ~ I will echo the sentiment to keep this thread going... but maybe a part two? Getting slow to receive it here in the deep east TX pineywoods.
Pod that flower is gorgeous. I haven't started mine yet and will put some in when I trash the early tomatoes. Winter squash too. I had some birdhouse gourds go crazy here one year and they reminded me of white moon flowers. Very pretty.
If that patty pan tastes like garlic please let me know. It would save a step in making the tom sauce. My cats and dogs love garlic. At least I think they do because they scarf up my cooking at every opportunity. It took me awhile but I finally figured out that my net gain for following the herd was dust.
Dude the UFO analogy is perfectly true. You were the first respondent when I started this thread and I took it for encouragement to keep going with it. I notice that I've ran off all the other hydro people. They probably figured the forum has been corrupted and bailed. I really don't understand why real hydro isn't more popular. If I lived in snow country I think I'd at least try to have some hydro lettuce growing in the house. With the prices going up it will soon be economical. I'm still trying to figure out a simple drip arrangement for several strawberry towers.
Some of us are older if not retired already and it gets a little scary sometimes with all the funny business going on with our economics. I really believe it will become increasingly helpful to increase our food production and thereby stretch our $ and to know what we're really eating. So if any of you come up with an idea that compares with sighting a UFO, please feel free to post it here or direct me to it.
It stopped raining about an hour ago and I made a quick pass by the cukes. I've got some Asian types that I never grew before. Yesterday I couldn't figure out if they'd been pollinated or not so I was surprised to find one about 1 1/4 X12" . I'm sure it's supposed to get bigger than that but I pulled it anyway. It's so prickly that it was like holding a handful of briars. I couldn't find one on my regulars so I guess I'll take it and be grateful. Maybe it'll taste better than it looks.
RE: MOSQUITO DUNKS: if you put these in the water where your veggies have their roots...this does not sound very healthy.
I am not an organic gardener, but I try to avoid necessary chemicals. Can anyone tell me if these are safe?
I tried something similar, just plunking two pots of Brussels Sprouts in an 11x22" grow tray filled with water when I ran out of Earthboxes. I mentioned this on another forum and got some warnings that the roots might rot or they might not be getting enough oxygen. But then someone pointed me to this thread where I find out that lots of others have tried a similar technique with some success, so I think I'll continue the experiment and perhaps try the same thing with some late germinating peppers that are about ready to be put out.
I suppose this really isn't true hydroponic gardening, but if the roots extend into the water trough I suppose it could be called semi-hydroponic agriculture or SHAG for short!
Wanted to let you know that you are NOT crazy and that I worked at a native wetland plant nursery in MD using this "method" to grow wetland plants. Raised beds were lined with 10 mil black plastic and anchored with staples (they change the plastic every season). Plants were placed into the beds and then filled with water to a certain level depending on the preference of the species, i.e. obligate, facultative upland, etc.
Our media was soil-less - 2 parts pinebark fines to1 part sand. We also used Osmocote.
I think if you find something that works for you then you should go with it. Apparently you have. :)
Amanda, that's what I do with many of my perennial potted plants. It is SO much easier to keep them watered and healthy that way. Sure cuts down on my watering time as well as using up my well water, too.
I have a table my BF's father made that was essentially a box on legs with a glass top. They had sand and shells in it - was very lovely, but it had its day and he gave up on it last year. I draped a blue tarp over it (glass top is long gone) and some old windows over it this spring. Sort of a standing cold frame/greenhouse. now I am also soaking plants in it. I have seen some folks self-watering vegetable tables. I am thinking about growing lettuce there. Cut it down when it's nice and short and tender. What do you think?
I"m sure it would work up to a point. If the water heats up too much the lettuce won't do so well but if you're in semi-shade that will help a little. Or change the water daily to help keep it cool.
I used to grow letting in a 6" pvc pipe, lengthwise. I cut holes in the side every 8" or so, filled it with perlite, stuck in lettuce plants, and would water at one end filling the pipe. Once it was filled I'd let the water out the other end from time to time. Although I did that to grow Romaine and loose-leaf types I'm sure you could grow cut-and-come-again lettuce using your water table in a similar way.
After several months, everything I've tried in standing water trays has grown well. My picture shows peppers in the foreground, hotter ornamental peppers behind them, and a glimpse of some Brussels Sprouts that the bugs got to before I could dust them. My method worked ok as an emergency measure, but if I continue this in future years, I want to find some sturdier water trays. I found that the flimsy seed trays don't survive if you step on them!
Heyyy Twiggybud...hits me agin!!! I built some waterbeds 5 or 6 years ago and am just now starting to use them. Yep, moving right along. I removed the stacked container grow poles from the four corners of these 3 platforms and set them up to be mini greenhouses in winter or for shade cloth in the summer. Also covered the platform beds with doubled up black plastic sheeting so that the beds can hold up to 11/2 inches of water. I have an adjustable relief gate so I can vary the amount of water the beds will hold depending on how many and what kind and size of plants I have on the platform. I dont wont standing water in the beds so I can adjust them so the plants will suck them dry and eliminate the possibility of mosquito's. The beds are on the same automatic watering system as the grow poles were before I removed them...four quarter inch water lines for each platform but I have goof plugged two of each platforms quarter inch lines at present. So with the adjustable relief gate and adjustable water lines I can adjust the amount of water each bed gets individually. I am a-fixing to load them suckers up with containers and see what happens. Wish me luck!
Twiggybuds, Ive done what you suggest for a long time. It's so hot in my area that I would be watering twice a day the "normal" way. Ive found if the saucer (whatever that happens to be) is of the right depth, not too deep, the roots dont rot. I just keep the pots sitting in about 1 to 2 inches of water and the plants never have to do without. It's a great solution, I think to the watering problem. Ive used a kid's wading pool, an under-the-bed storage box, kitty litter pans and various "saucers" that hold many pots at once. I think that thing of never allowing pots to sit in water, got started with house plants where the light is almost always low which would encourage rot. With outdoor light, sun, etc it has always worked well for me. you go girl!!!
Someone left a link in another post, so I came here out of curiosity. I didn't take the time to read the whole thread, only scanned it quickly, so don't know if anyone ever took the time to explain WHY this is working for you, based on physiology. I did see a lot of suppositions upthread about why it might work or 'what's going on' that were incorrect. If you already figured it out, or someone explained it, I won't bother. I'll watch the thread to see what you think.
The roots produced under hypoxic conditions or under water are quite different from those produced in container soils or other well-aerated medium (perlite - screened Turface - calcined DE - seed starting mix, e.g.). These 'water roots' are much more brittle than their counterparts growing in soil; this, due to a much higher percentage of aerenchyma (a tissue with a greater percentage of intercellular air spaces than normal parenchyma), and their construction is different as well.
Aerenchyma tissue is filled with airy compartments. It usually forms in already rooted plants as a result of highly selective cell death and dissolution in the root cortex in response to hypoxic conditions in the rhizosphere (root zone). There are 2 types of aerenchymous tissue. One type is formed by cell differentiation and subsequent collapse, and the other type is formed by cell separation without collapse ( as in water-rooted plants). In both cases, the long continuous air spaces allow diffusion of oxygen (and probably ethylene) from shoots to roots that would normally be unavailable to plants with roots growing in hypoxic media. In fresh cuttings placed in water, aerenchymous tissue forms due to the same hypoxic conditions w/o cell death & dissolution.
Note too, that under hypoxic (airless - low O2 levels) conditions, ethylene is necessary for aerenchyma to form. This parallels the fact that low oxygen concentrations, as found in water rooting, generally stimulate plants to produce ethylene. For a long while it was believed that high levels of ethylene stimulate adventitious root formation, but lots of recent research proves the reverse to be true. Under hypoxic conditions, like submergence in water, ethylene actually slows down adventitious root formation and elongation.
In essence, the structural variation of roots that forms in aqua culture allows the roots of the plant to get oxygen needed for root metabolism from plant parts above the ground instead of from the soil, as they normally would. The reason saturated soils in conventional container culture are so limiting is because roots cannot make the transition from a media that is hypoxic part of the time and well-aerated the rest of the time. The roots, when deprived of oxygen, simply die or are significantly impaired in function until aeration returns to the soil, a condition that is often seriously limiting.
Open water beds and earthboxes (self watering containers) are very similiar with plant roots able to reach directly into water or highly saturated grow mix. Do you see any advantage, one over the other?
Al, glad to see you lending your expertise to this thread! What do you think of the following summary. Does it make sense?
I put plants in containers about 12 inches high with holes in the bottom. These sat in troughs containing at most 1 inch of water. (I watered from the top once or twice a week and added water to the trough if it ran out.) Thus I believe that the bottom inch of soil mix in the containers was saturated, with capillary action raising the "perched" water level (your phrase in another thread) another 1 or 2 inches at most. (This is a guess from how the soil appears when I empty the container.) Thus, the roots, which start perhaps 1 inch below the surface, can reach down 8 inches through normal soil until they reach the two inches of damp soil and the bottom inch of saturated soil (your hypoxic condition?). I don't see any cause for concern, here. When I removed the plants at the end of the season, there appeared to be plenty of healthy roots in the 8 inches of normal soil. If they reach further into the damp or saturated region and form what you call aerenchymous tissue, wouldn't that still collect water and food for the plant?
I'm also confused by the etymology of "hypoxia". Hyper comes from a greek root meaning "too much" not "lack of". Shouldn't the lack of oxygen be "dysoxia"?
I have a question for Tapla.
How high will water wick in a medium? I want to wick water 48". What kind of medium would I use?
I am looking at building some 48" tall tower gardens. I would like to be able to water these from a standing water source.
I want to thank you again for your very informative posts. Each one is an education.
We are so lucky to have you spend your time writing for our edification.