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Container Gardening: 5 gallon ebucket 1st-timer

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JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 18, 2012
3:37 PM

Post #9047693

I finally rounded up the main supplies over the weekend and my major concern is with the collander. What do you guys think (it's 4 qt)? Is it big enough? I bought the blue bowl just in case but would have to drill holes all over it, and even then I would have to trim it in order to get it to fit inside the bucket. I got these from the $ store.

This message was edited Mar 18, 2012 9:28 PM

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TX_gardener
Brady, TX
(Zone 8a)

March 19, 2012
6:05 AM

Post #9048330

I'm sure GymGirl will be along about this, but I think she's opted for buckets without reservoirs at least in some cases. I know I have because the colanders, like you observed, always have to be 'sized' to fit and I find they take up space that my plant roots can utilize. If you do use a reservoir, go with the colander -- it's big enough.
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 19, 2012
8:40 AM

Post #9048595

So, no reservoirs, huh? (In some cases.) Does this mean you forego the self-watering benefit? Silly question, I know, but I want to use the ebucket design to help me survive the hot months here. I am not able to water everyday, unfortunately.

I know there are some handy step-by-step threads here so I need to find them. Thanks for the info TX_gardener!

TX_gardener
Brady, TX
(Zone 8a)

March 20, 2012
5:55 AM

Post #9049892

Here's Part III which gives links for Parts I and II --

http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1188608/?hl=bucket

Gymgirl

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

March 26, 2012
10:22 AM

Post #9057660

Next time, just send me a dmail if you can't find me!

Hey, John and Tx_g!

First off, what're you planning on growing in the bucket? The white colander would be my choice.

Tx_g is correct that this past season I grew my brassicas in free-draining buckets as an experiment. They worked fine, just had to monitor the watering closer to harvest as those big babies got thirsty when all the heading started!

This season, I've got my FIRST RB constructed, and thought I'd move away from eBuckets with reservoirs. Not gonna happen, because I have come to depend on those reservoirs for certain veggies that are total WATER-HOGS.

For some reason, my eggplants love growing in the eBuckets -- access to water, at-will. The adjustment that I will be making in the fall is to go with the taller 6.5 gallon pool chemical buckets, and find a colander that I can place HIGHER up in the bottom, thereby giving me a deeper reservoir. The 5 gallon bucket reservoirs are fine for smaller veggies like peppers, or compact container plants that don't take up so much water, so fast.

I just did a demo on eBucket construction yesterday with a group of my church ladies. Sent home at least 8 tomato-planted, colander eBuckets!

How's that for promoting the cause?

Hope this helps!

Linda
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 26, 2012
11:02 AM

Post #9057738

As always, thanks for your advice Linda.

You said that you built your first RB-- RB = raised bed, correct?

Yes, I ended up going with the white colander. I built my 1st ebucket on Saturday and planted a tomato plant in it! I was excited, and it was pretty easy to do I just needed to stop putting if off. I had to tweak the colander a bit in order to get it to fit the bucket but aside from that, smooth sailing.

I would like to grow peppers & tomatoes in these ebuckets, not sure what else at this time. Maybe cucumbers? Definitely cabbage, this coming fall.

Is there a particular soil recipe you use for the ebuckets? I used potting soil from Lowe's, I forget the brand. I put a couple of tbsp's of bone meal at the bottom of the planting hole.

Gymgirl

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

March 26, 2012
11:36 AM

Post #9057780

John,
Never fill a container with potting soil...it will eventually compact hard as concrete...in the future, use either pine bark fines (and I see a trip to Houston in your very near future...), or potting MIX, MIX, MIX...in a container...

Last season, I used a container formula that Tapla customized for my veggie containers. It saved me a BOATload of $$$, because I didn't end up using 100% MG potting mix. I'd have had to buy almost 15+ of the BIG bags of MG potting mix, at what? $13/bag? The pine bark fines go a LONG way, and on the cheap! I used 1/2 yard at $18 and cut in about 2 large bags of MG potting mix, and 6 cu. ft. of Perlite. I spent $95, and filled 48 buckets! This season, I cut the old bucket mix with new unsifted pine bark (1/2 of what I had remaining from last season), vermiculite, some fresh peat (I went with sphagnum) and sharp sand, to fill the raised bed. Not a bad trade off!

I'm about to grow the tomatoes in a RB (raised bed) for the very first time. It's been challenging growing my HUGE heirloom tomatoes in buckets, although last season I made two adjustments: one was Al's mix; the second was using a larger bucket. I have a friend who collects those tall, 6.5 gallon pool chlorine buckets for me. I went with free-draining instead of the reservoirs this time, and grew the best crop of tomatoes ever.

So, depending on the variety of tomato you're growing, we'll need to talk, maybe.

eBuckets are EXCELLENT for growing your cabbages in! So, stock up for the fall. In fact, I'll probably still use a few buckets for some of my water-hogging brassicas in the fall.

Peppers will do very well in the taller eBuckets with a reservoir.

Never have grown cukes, although, toying with growing a couple this season...

Al's Container Mix:
3 parts pine bark fines (sifted through 1/2" hardware cloth to remove the very large chunks)
2 parts peat (I used MG potting mix as my peat component). Al prefers using reed/sedge peat...
1 part coarse Perlite

The mix is fast draining, and very oxygenated, yet holds enough moisture to give you a few days between waterings (at least in the beginning). I believe the oxygen is what made my tomatoes grow so successfully.

Next time, I'll have my Automatic Watering System in place so they'll have a constant drip over a longer period of the day. I think I mentioned these were free-draining buckets with holes in the bottoms...

Lemme know when you're gonna make that trip down here to get your pine bark fines!

Linda

P.S. Dmail me for my phone number...

Gymgirl

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

March 26, 2012
11:38 AM

Post #9057782

Meant to post this!

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JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

March 26, 2012
3:39 PM

Post #9058097

Wow, those are great pictures! Those look like happy plants.

Oh dear...so there's a difference between potting soil and potting mix?? How did I not know that? :) Well, there's a 50/50 chance that I used potting mix (albeit inadvertently) so fingers crossed until I get home and check the bag. Good grief, can't believe I did that but at least it's only one ebucket.

Yeah, I have seen Tapla's recipe but I am not certain I can buy pine bark fines unless they are already bagged. So, I may have to make-do with potting mix in the meantime.
TX_gardener
Brady, TX
(Zone 8a)

March 27, 2012
4:59 AM

Post #9058766

Linda, just out of curiosity -- 'tidy cat' buckets: a little smaller than 5 gal?

Gymgirl

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

March 27, 2012
5:54 AM

Post #9058814

I think so. I used several small TC buuckets for some small varieties of cabbages, and the larger ones for larger cabbages. The larger ones didn't dry out as fast. But the smaller ones served their purpose.
You don't need beyond a five gallon bucket for a cabbage. To grow well. It just depends on how much time you wanna spend watering after they take off. Put a simple automatic watering system in place and no worries at all!
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 25, 2012
6:11 PM

Post #9097802

Here's an update on some of my progress so far. Well, I can't say enough about eBuckets right now!!! I am so thrilled about the results I have seen so far and I am only watering maybe every 4 days or so. Of course, we are not yet into the dog days of summer so I probably shouldn't get too excited just yet!

Anyway, I planted a "Diamant" cucumber plant, which I believe is a bush variety of a pickling type cucumber. I planted a 6" transplant about a month ago and it had one tiny fruit that was set, and you can see it in these pics. Does anyone know how you can tell when it is time to harvest? Should the cuke just "snap off" the vine with a gentle twist? I don't know, but it looks good and the DTM is 47 days.

Also, how would you feed this plant from now on? There are about five more fruit that are growing right now. Thanks everyone.

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JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 25, 2012
6:14 PM

Post #9097804

P.S Sorry that the pics are a bit out of focus.

Also, the cucumber does have a slight prickly-ness to it.

Gymgirl

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

April 25, 2012
6:42 PM

Post #9097846

John,
You ROCK!!
gessieviolet
Saluda, SC
(Zone 8a)

April 26, 2012
8:20 AM

Post #9098500

John and Linda, just checking out of curiosity this morning since I am able once more to piddle with my garden and am excited to see there is still enthusiasm for the eBucket.

Linda, you are some grower! I, too, have decided to grow using several different methods, just to see what happens.

Have planted tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers in RB, eBucket, strawbales and straight buckets.

So far want to make any guess as to which is WAY AHEAD of the game with tomatoes planted 3/27 (that's just 1 month ago!).

The ebucket--by far! Already have a tomato bigger than the end of my thumb dispite the fact that we have had terrible weather (first spring, next day hot summer, next week 2 nites of frost warning).

Good to "see" you again.
Lane
JohnCrichton75
League City, TX
(Zone 9a)

April 26, 2012
9:00 AM

Post #9098530

Hey Lane, good to hear from you. Yes, my veggie plants are doing well for the most part using eBuckets. One small issue, though, is this bell pepper plant. It looks healthy and very green, but it is so small! Maybe a foot tall right now. The thing is, I planted it about a month ago when it was maybe a 6" transplant.

What do you guys think? Is it "operator error" on my part for not feeding it properly? I mixed in some slow release fertilizer for tomatoes and peppers- you may have seen the plastic cylinder cans with the red top at the garden center, I forget the name brand though. Anyway, it's13-13-13, and I mixed it into the soil prior to planting. I added a tbsp or so of bone meal at the bottom of the planting hole as well.

Anyway, after a month in the eBucket I figured the pepper plant would have been much bigger. Thoughts, Linda? Our weather has been pretty good for the most part- a very warm March and so on.

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