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Self-contained Box Gardens: BER problem

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Forum: Self-contained Box GardensReplies: 20, Views: 173
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joy112854
Crestview, FL

June 2, 2011
7:10 PM

Post #8605117

I have a real problem with BER right now on almost all my tomatoes except the cherry ones. The footer on my pump went out and I was without water for 3 days, so, friends, relatives and neighbors brought over water in 50 gallon drums, and we siphoned the water into empty 18 gallon totes, then I filled a 2 gallon pitcher and used a funnel to pour the water into the water fill tubes on my EBs and Hebs, until all the water was gone. I did this every day til I got water, so don't understand what the problem is. I know it's not a calcium deficiency, as I used the proper amount of dolomite lime. It's been extemely hot here, and before my footer in my pump and well went out I was watering twice daily with the drip irrigation. There are lots of big tomatoes that are green, and I'm hoping that they don't wind up with BER too when they ripen up, it will break my heart. Any suggestions? I cannot pay my renewal on Dave's garden club as when my brother and a friend's husband were trying to get my pump to prime, the freind's husband decided to let some of the air out of my tank, and when he did I was afraid it would get waterlogged, so had him add the air back into the tank, and when he did, it blew up the bladder the tank, so had to replace that, the footer and it wasn't cheap ya'll. This will be my last post til I get financially better.
joy

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

June 3, 2011
7:37 AM

Post #8605994

Joy,

Add two cups of dolomite lime to each one of your EB water reservoirs. Mix 2 cups of the lime with enough water to make it easy to pour into the tubes.

This should help the BER.



joy112854
Crestview, FL

June 3, 2011
8:52 AM

Post #8606090

Gymgirl: Thanks sweetie, will do.
joy

Ray_Der_Phan

Ray_Der_Phan
Oceanside, CA
(Zone 10a)

June 3, 2011
9:09 AM

Post #8606105

"The footer on my pump went out and I was without water for 3 days"

Sounds like the problem right there. If the soil gets dry in any container, expect BER in result. Calcium uptake is nonexistent in a dry container. Same thing could happen if the soil is waterlogged. Sounds like the soil went from 3 days of no water to a lot of water. Perfect recipe for BER. Stabilize the moisture and it will fix itself in a week or so.

Since you added dolomite lime at planting, it should have more than enough calcium. I would be leery about adding anymore. It probably would sweeten the soil too much and lockout other essential nutrients.

You could add a tablespoon of calcium nitrate to a gallon of water and dump that into the reservoir but I still think it was the inconsistent watering that triggered the BER.

Kindlekat
Washington, DC
(Zone 7a)

June 3, 2011
3:33 PM

Post #8606716

Just a note Joy, that this particular forum does not require a DG membership to access. I don't have one because of budget restraints, so this is one of the few forums I post in. Sorry to hear about your troubles, but hopefully you don't have to lose all the things that give you joy, Joy.
joy112854
Crestview, FL

June 3, 2011
5:51 PM

Post #8606959

Ray Der Phan: I had drums of water brought in by friends and family and siphoned the water into totes, used a funnel running into the water fill tubes and then used a 2 gallon pitcher to water each EB and bucket until the water came out the dranhole. I did add the dolomite like Gymgirl said this evening, followed by a good water fill on the reservoirs. It's been so hot, I've lost 3 GP boxes of cukes and only have one producing, the crook neck yellow squash is fine, lost all okra plants except two plants. It's been 100 degree weather and my poor plants went from being pampered morning and night to having to be satisfied with one watering a day. I hope the BER passes too, and I hope I didn't lock up any nutrients by adding watered down dolomite to the reservoir, time will tell of course.

Ray_Der_Phan

Ray_Der_Phan
Oceanside, CA
(Zone 10a)

June 3, 2011
6:25 PM

Post #8607021

You should be alright. But that is an awful lot of lime for an EB. You added 2 cups at planting and 2 more to the reservoir, correct? Do you have a pH meter? I'm curious to see what the pH is after the 2 addition cups. IMO, BER is more of a calcium uptake problem(moisture fluctuations) than a lack of calcium in the soil/mix.

Sorry to hear about you losing plants but in that heat, it's almost inevitable. Especially with less water. I think you are doing as best as you can do at this point. Hoping for the best.
joy112854
Crestview, FL

June 4, 2011
10:33 AM

Post #8608339

Ray: I'm hoping for the best also, and I used a ratio of 1 lb of the dolomite to 1 full 18 gallon tote of water and then mixed it really well, to dissolve the lime. I then poured a few funnels into each and every EB and ebucket; but you to understand, I have 38 ebuckets and about 24 EBs. It was really only equivalent to about 1 cup of watered down lime; so, I'm hopefully there won't be any harm done. I heard from others that have done the same though, and their roots of the plants got burnt, I don't think I put enough in it to do that though, hopefully. This is my last day so anyone wants to contact me will have to do so via my email address, which is joy112854@yahoo.com and put in the subject line from DG garden ok? Bye ya'll happy gardening.
Love ya
joy

Ray_Der_Phan

Ray_Der_Phan
Oceanside, CA
(Zone 10a)

June 4, 2011
10:48 AM

Post #8608372

Joy, take a look at what Kindlekat posted above. This forum is free, along with a few others on DG.

Kindlekat wrote:Just a note Joy, that this particular forum does not require a DG membership to access. I don't have one because of budget restraints, so this is one of the few forums I post in. Sorry to hear about your troubles, but hopefully you don't have to lose all the things that give you joy, Joy.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

June 4, 2011
1:11 PM

Post #8608610

I just sent Joy a shout out. She should be back directly.

And, since I'm suffering the same BER, I followed the same advice I gave Joy. I mixed one cup Dolomite lime to 10 cups water and poured in 5 cups per
tomato container. Then I watered each one in.

Trying to bring in the last and largest tomatoes.

Linda

This message was edited Jun 4, 2011 10:25 PM
joy112854
Crestview, FL

June 4, 2011
5:52 PM

Post #8609096

Gymgirl: us who live in FL are experiencing 100 degree weather, with zero wind speed and a high humidity factor, then add to that I have all my tomatoes in full sun, I really never thought I'd see the day when a tomato plant would holler "take me outta the sun" but that day has come. A friend of mine is spraying her plants in the evening with water to cool them off, I know that's a good way to get disease from wet leaves but the plants are recovering because of it, the sun is just so hot and it doesn't matter how full the reservoir is, it's the heat above that's doing it.
joy
podster
Deep East Texas, TX
(Zone 8a)

June 5, 2011
11:56 AM

Post #8610759

Thanks for the information Ray_Der_Phan. I had always understood it to be a calcium problem causing BER. Your explanation makes far more logical sense to me. Thank you.

Joy ~ we are seeing similar temps all through TX. For that reason, I have always tried to place the plants in morning sun, afternoon shade. It gives them (and me) less stress.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

June 5, 2011
2:44 PM

Post #8611066

It's 101 degrees out now, and I just watered all the tomatoes and okras, leaves and all. There's plenty enough time for the leaves to dry before night, and the plants seem to perk up from the cooling off.

I realize everyone can't or doesn't do this. I'm just reporting in on my individual strategy...

As for adding the extra Dolomite to the tomato plants, with my own plants suffering BER, I got that tip from a trusted, successful EB tomato grower, with years of healthy harvests brought in.

I realize everyone doesn't do this. I'm just reporting in on my individual strategy...

I was also told I didn't need to add any more fertilizer to my EBs and ebuckets after the initial plantout. And I watched the fertilizing schedule of another DGer whose tomato crop this season is one of the most beautiful and bountiful. So, I started feeding my crop on that schedule, and I have more tomatoes and the healthiest vines I have ever had in all my growing seasons since 2008, combined.

I realize everyone doesn't do this. I'm just reporting in on my individual strategy...

It was one 'a my favorite Ubers who said that, "being a successful gardener is more about finding what works for you, where you are". And, "there's no 'cookie cutter' method," or "one size fits all," that works across the board, and for everyone.

I realize everyone doesn't necessarily get this. I'm just reporting in on my individual strategies, and offering options for others seeking help with their gardening problems. I'm still in my own learning curve. I'll succeed with some strategies, and fail with some others.

But, finding my way is part of my gardening journey. And, I am truly enjoying the trip so far! ^:-)^

Linda

Ray_Der_Phan

Ray_Der_Phan
Oceanside, CA
(Zone 10a)

June 5, 2011
5:03 PM

Post #8611339


Gymgirl wrote:As for adding the extra Dolomite to the tomato plants, with my own plants suffering BER, I got that tip from a trusted, successful EB tomato grower, with years of healthy harvests brought in.

I realize everyone doesn't do this. I'm just reporting in on my individual strategy...


Dolomite Lime is a pH adjuster while adding calcium and magnesium. There's other ways of giving a plant calcium without Dolomite. Sounds like it worked for them because they had a lockup from acidic mix, not necessarily a lack of calcium.

Quoting:I was also told I didn't need to add any more fertilizer to my EBs and ebuckets after the initial plantout. And I watched the fertilizing schedule of another DGer whose tomato crop this season is one of the most beautiful and bountiful. So, I started feeding my crop on that schedule, and I have more tomatoes and the healthiest vines I have ever had in all my growing seasons since 2008, combined.

I realize everyone doesn't do this. I'm just reporting in on my individual strategy...


The plants will tell you when they need food. Reason why I never listen to what is "recommended" by EB or other SWC companies. The plants burn out and are hard to jump start again when they get high doses early IMO. Start slow and low. Half the fertilizer they recommend is a good place to start for me. Then add a bit when they ask for it or start fruiting. Plant life seems to be longer. But in 100+ heat there's no method to keeping them well unless you shade them.

Quoting:It was one 'a my favorite Ubers who said that, "being a successful gardener is more about finding what works for you, where you are". And, "there's no 'cookie cutter' method," or "one size fits all," that works across the board, and for everyone.


Of course, very true, who doesn't agree with that? But SWC gardening is a lot different from in ground farming. It even differs a bit from regular container gardening too.

Quoting:I realize everyone doesn't necessarily get this. I'm just reporting in on my individual strategies, and offering options for others seeking help with their gardening problems. I'm still in my own learning curve. I'll succeed with some strategies, and fail with some others.

But, finding my way is part of my gardening journey. And, I am truly enjoying the trip so far! ^:-)^

Linda


Linda, I didn't mean to stifle your tips in any way. My apologies if I came across that way. My main point was that there's other options than adding more dolomite, which can cause more trouble if the pH was normal. BTW, we all will be learning about gardening until the day we die. That's the fun part...something new all the time.




Ray_Der_Phan

Ray_Der_Phan
Oceanside, CA
(Zone 10a)

June 5, 2011
5:06 PM

Post #8611349

podster wrote:Thanks for the information Ray_Der_Phan. I had always understood it to be a calcium problem causing BER. Your explanation makes far more logical sense to me. Thank you.


Hey Pod, no problem. It is a calcium problem but it's generally more of an uptake problem than lack there of. Especially in Self Watering Containers. There's no substantial leeching of nutrients. 2 cups of dolomite lime is more than enough for 2 tomato plants unless there is a lockup somewhere. IMO, It's about keeping an even moisture level and the pH(reservoir & mix) in the right zone. Over time the pH does get out of whack from tap water, summertime heat, rain, fertilizer, etc. A water & soil pH tester is a useful tool to have with SWCs.



This message was edited Jun 5, 2011 5:41 PM

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

June 6, 2011
8:47 AM

Post #8612611

Gymgirl - I have seen the word "UBER" used here on DG before, but haven't a clue as to what it means. Enlighten me, please!

Ray_Der_Phan - I agree with you about feeding plants when they need it. I use a "less-is-best" approach to fertilizing.

I've been gardening for 60 years and still have things to learn!
Tigerlily09
West Des Moines, IA
(Zone 5a)

August 2, 2011
1:59 PM

Post #8732380

I'm also having problems with BER this year. It's been exceptionally hot and humid in Iowa this year. Even my citrus isn't growing as well as usual, although my figs are doing great - strange, huh?

In any case, I did an experiment this year. I planted tomatoes in an EB(tm) and an HEB. Even though I have a full-size tomato plant and a Roma in my HEB, I have minimal BER even though the Romas in my EB are having massive problems. I guess my HEB has a larger reservoir and the water levels are steadier. Now I know I need to water more often when it gets this hot, but it's interesting nonetheless.

I'm really disappointed with the flavor of tomatoes in both. I guess it's just not a good year for them.
Tplant
Pembroke Pines, FL
(Zone 10a)

August 8, 2011
11:01 AM

Post #8744436

Sounds like I missed out on everything because of my surgery, however, thanks to Joy for coming down to help me I was able to plant my melons in three EBs but with all the heat and rain we had it was for naught. BER got to my melon plants and they just dried up. This is the first time this has happened to me so ya'll aren't alone with your problems and Ray is correct about individual demography. What works for me may not work for you.
It is to hot down here for tomatos in the summer as they will not pollinate because of the 90+ heat index but melons thrive in it and I've always grown real beauties and never had problems as the plants died off naturally after bearing fruit but as stated previously - not this season..
joy112854
Crestview, FL

August 8, 2011
10:04 PM

Post #8745788

TPlant I thin everyone has had problems with the weather this year, it's been hot everywhere and here right now we are really hot during the day and then get soaked in the evening with nonstop thunerstorms. My daughter tried a small yellow seedless watermelon this year around the 4th of July and said it was delicious, she doesn't grow them, she buys hers from fresh produce stands. I gave up on them after the bugs ate them from the inside out and decided not to grow blueberries. They have a U pick your own blueberry farm close by that was really reasonable. Ann and I went and picked 4 empty milk gallon jugfuls, each gallon milk jug held about 5 lbs of blueberries and we only had to pay about $5 for each jugful. We washed them and then put them in freezer bags, I got 3 gallon freezer bags with plenty left over to snack on for my entire family and then gave 2 of the 3 to my 2 daughters, leaving me one for this winter, hello blueberry pie, blueberry buckle and blueberry cobbler.
joy
Tplant
Pembroke Pines, FL
(Zone 10a)

August 9, 2011
2:00 PM

Post #8746947

I just love the cobbler family. YUMMM
joy112854
Crestview, FL

August 13, 2011
7:20 AM

Post #8753550

TPlant: It's one way to heat up the house in the winter and have some tasty to munch on at the same time. LOL I've been putting up a lot of my summer veggies in the freezer too and plan to put up a lot of winter ones, as I love spinach and tomatoes together. All that is left in my summer garden now is my okra, it hasn't done that well this year.
joy

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