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Beginner Vegetables: Tomato and Bell Pepper Plants in Containers

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Chillybean

Chillybean
Near Central, IA
(Zone 4a)

May 16, 2012
8:44 AM

Post #9125953

We are not going to have enough space in our gardens this year for the toms and peps. I went a little over board at SeedSavers. So... I have heard these grow well in containers, but I am going to need a bit of help. What size containers? And cheapest option for containers? I'll need 32 if I have my counting correct. Potting or other type of soil? Best location for pots, around the garden alright? What type of fertilizer is best for these? Avoiding use of Miracle grow, but have bone, blood and corn gluten meals. OH and how to stake toms? Last year one of our varieties grew as tall as I, over 5 feet.

Sorry this is not detailed, and I need to get back out planting. Still have two beans, cukes, corn, sunflowers...

Thank you very much.

idealpeggy
Lexington, KY
(Zone 6b)

May 16, 2012
9:30 AM

Post #9126004

I attended a class @ our extension agency last night on tomatoes. The instructor suggested those plastic garden totes with holes drilled in the bottom of them. He said about 20-30 gallons!!! The largest I've found so far is 11 gallons. You can plant them in just about anything-just be sure you have adequate drainage and use the largest containers you can. As far as fertilizing, they like phophorous (the 2nd #). He said no more than once/month-too much and you'll have foliage and no fruit. As far as staking, there are numerous options. I went on YouTube and found tons of videos about it. I had an heirloom last year that was over 6 feet!!!
yardener
Greenfield, OH
(Zone 6a)

May 16, 2012
9:45 AM

Post #9126015

I've had great success with a plain 5 gallon bucket and letting them drape over the side. Other than for good air circulation to prevent disease, I've heard that tomatoes do best sprawling on the ground. But I personally can not confirm this.
My soil preference is the cheapest potting mix with slow release fertilizer already added. I water with one tbsp to the gallon of epsom salts every other week and splash on some fish emulsion a couple times a month.
I put them where they get a minimum of 6 hours of direct sun and good air circulation.
The indeterminate tomatoes don't seem to do as well for the long haul, but they are still worth growing in a pot if thats all you have.
I've grown cukes and zukes in pot too, but never peppers. I'm guessing they would do well.

Gymgirl

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

May 16, 2012
11:11 AM

Post #9126084

eBuckets.

This link will take you to part III. The links for parts l and ll are at the top. Start at the beginning, where lots of questions were answered about the system...

http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1188608/

Godspeed, and Good Harvest.

Linda

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

May 16, 2012
4:38 PM

Post #9126479

>> My soil preference is the cheapest potting mix with slow release fertilizer already added.

The cost of most potting mixs can be decreased by "cutting" them with screened pine bark. A 2 cubic foot bag of medium-coarse confier bark mulch can be had for $3.50 - 8$.

Start with medium or med-coarse mulch.
Screen it with 1/4" mesh to get rid of as many fines as you can.
Discard chunks too big to pass a 1/2" screen (or use them as mulch, or chop them up).

I think most potting mixes benefit from being made faster-draining and more airy - try to get rid of the smaller bits even if youi have to use a 1/2" screen on a slope and let the bark roll down the screen so only a little passes through (you can use mutliple passes).

If you buy the cheapest mulch, it may have ben stored damp and sealed away from air. In that case, you want to flush it and air it before using in potting mix.

(This idea comes originally from Al / Tapla in the Containers forum - he has a much better potting mix if you can get all the ingredients.)
yardener
Greenfield, OH
(Zone 6a)

May 17, 2012
6:06 AM

Post #9126964

RickCorey_WA
cutting with bark sounds like a sweet idea. I've added pearlite in the past but the bark idea would definately be cheaper.
I'll have to give that a try next year

Gymgirl

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

May 17, 2012
6:46 AM

Post #9127000

I filled 50+ 5- and 6.5-gallon buckets for about $75 this past season! Sure beat filling them with twenty large bags of straight MG Potting Mix at $13/bag!
idealpeggy
Lexington, KY
(Zone 6b)

May 17, 2012
7:30 AM

Post #9127043

eBuckets.

This link will take you to part III. The links for parts l and ll are at the top. Start at the beginning, where lots of questions were answered about the system...

http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1188608/

Linda,
I've just discovered this...had never heard of it before!! How interesting! Do you still do these? I have a question-I keep hearing about crop rotation, and how important it is not to replant the same vegetable (or one in the same family, even) in the same spot any more often than every 4 yrs. With that in mind, do you rotate what you plant in these each year, or don't you hold with that theory? I haven't had time to read all of this yet, so maybe that is addressed somewhere in here. I'm also trying to see how these are staked. All my tomatoes are indeterminate. Also, I'm going to use a galvanized horse trough for 2 of my tomatoes. I don't know if I could incorporate this idea in one of those or not? Any thoughts?

Gymgirl

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

May 17, 2012
8:12 AM

Post #9127102

Peggy,
Here's my 2011 fall/wtr crop..in eBuckets! I had about 50+ going...

As an efficient, small-space gardening system, eBuckets are tops! And, if you find the components for Tapla's Container Formula, you can fill 'em for a fraction of the cost of using straight Miracle Grow Potting Mix. I filled approximately 60 buckets (cat litter, 5-gallon, & 6.5- gallons) for $75. It would have cost me 20 bags of straight MG potting mix @ $13/bag otherwise.

I only grow indeterminate tomatoes. This past tomato season, using Tapla's formula, I grew my best crop of tomatoes EVER in eBuckets.

LMK.

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idealpeggy
Lexington, KY
(Zone 6b)

May 17, 2012
9:30 AM

Post #9127206

What about crop rotation ?
vgates81
Wildwood Lake, TN

May 17, 2012
9:44 AM

Post #9127223

Wow Gymgirl that's a nice looking set of tomatoes. :) OP... Why do you avoid miracle grow? I have not used it but I hear to avoid it a lot and wondered why.

Gymgirl

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

May 17, 2012
10:16 AM

Post #9127253

Peggy,
I have not found refreshing my planting mix, and replanting in it, to have any ill effects on my veggies.

Just a note, I'm moving forward in my yard with raised beds, so my eBucket gardening will be scaled down, dramatically. I still believe in them, especially for growing the water hogs that like to drink all day. It helps with not having to water EVERY day early on in the season, although, toward the end, we have to water everything almost every day, anyway!

Here's the most recent pic of my 2011 Fall/Winter garden. I grow mostly brassicas, and I LOVE the fall/wtr season. Gearing up now to start seedlings for staggered planting out beginning in mid-August through December.

P.S. I use MG Water Soluble plant food for Veggies in a hose end sprayer, once a week...

"Feeding the world, one eBucket at a time!"

Linda

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Gymgirl

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

May 17, 2012
10:23 AM

Post #9127261

Oops!

I forgot to make ya'lls lives better with my EZ button

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idealpeggy
Lexington, KY
(Zone 6b)

May 17, 2012
11:54 AM

Post #9127318

Wow...your's make mine look sick!! There's something wrong with my broccoli, I think.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

May 17, 2012
1:50 PM

Post #9127436



yardener,

Perlite definitely decreases the water-holding capacity by taking up space that water might otherewise have been able to occupy. So replacing Perlite with bark will hold more water, and you could water more heavily and less often.

Bark chips and shreds MIGHT be bigger than coarse Perlite IF you screen out the fines. It takes very little fine stuff to "clog up the pores" in a soiless mix - like 15% might be too much! Cheap mulch might have a lot of fines.

If you're patient enough to screen thoroughly with 1/4" screen and only keep what won't go through at all, you'll have pretty fast-draining bark. I try to use 1/2" screen to quickly remove even more "fine stuff" (or maybe I should call it "medium fine").

It seems to me that keeping some grit or coarse Perlite in the mix opens up the bark sheds even more, and helps compensate for left-over fines. I found a 50 pound bag of #2 chciken grit which was almost perfect (around 1-2 mm). I would have liked 2-3 mm grit or crushed rock even more.

Peggy:
>> how important it is not to replant the same vegetable (or one in the same family, even) in the same spot any more often than every 4 yrs

I like what Dr. carolyn sxaid: if yopu don't HAVE a particular disease in yourt rfegion, don't worry abolut avoiding it. Only worry about rotation if you discover a need for it where YOU live, the way YOU garden.

I've been growing Bok Choy annd Snow Peas in the same spot for 3-4 years, and see no disease. Last year they didn't do as well as in the pazstg, but I think that was becuase they got off to slow start and the soil was less organic (I haven't been adding enough compost each year).

Gymgirl

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

May 17, 2012
2:07 PM

Post #9127452

Peggy,
Jump on board, and we'll figure out what's going on with your broccoli! Keep in mind we're in different growing Zones. You're doing cool/cold weather now, right? I'm doing spring/summer, and gearing up for fall/wtr beginning in mid-August. If we can keep up with each other on the thermometer, I'm game if you are!

Here's my latest tomato trellis -- and I'm never going back to a cage or a stake or a prison!!!

This is a seriously EZ system for anything you can grow in a straight line!

I used old 7' galvanized fence posts (set down 24" into the ground), 18" PVC pipe extensions (to bring the height back up to 7') and pipe joiner couplers (to attach the 18" section of the PVC pipe to the top of the fence posts) and elbow couplers (to run the overhead across).

The indeterminate tomatoes are being held up on a single line suspended from the overhead bar of the frame. A slip knot is placed around the base of each tomato seedling, and then the plant is just wound loosely around the line every 12" or so in height, keeping enough slack so the line doesn't cut through or damage the stem. Piece 'a cake! The key is to keep each plant to either one or two main stems. Any more stems going all over the place will stress you (and the plant) out!

I've let several get out of hand. One plant branched off into a 'VEE" and I tethered those two, but now it has about 3 additional thick stems that are NOT tethered. It's a bit tricky to install a line once the plant gets as bushy as mine are now. But, I managed to get several other stems tethered "after-the-fact" so, I'll patiently (VERY PATIENTLY) try to get at least two more of these stems tethered this weekend, before the weight of any fruits causes them to snap.

So, if you've got somewhere to line up your eBuckets, build a frame of some sort over them, and tethered them!

This is a pic of the tomatoes at 4'. As of today, they are almost 6' in height.



This message was edited May 17, 2012 4:12 PM

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idealpeggy
Lexington, KY
(Zone 6b)

May 18, 2012
6:42 AM

Post #9128207

Linda, I chose Arcadia Broccoli and I think that was a bad choice for Summer-looks like it's a cool season variety. It's been hot, cold, and now it's getting hot again. Our weather has been crazy. Anyway, my broccoli leaves have some mottling on the lower leaves. I just transplanted them a few weeks ago-they were slow growers. They are still growing, but I don't see any buds on them-just leaves. My plan is to just leave them be for now and probably reseed for fall in that same raised bed. Sound like a plan? Should I remove the mottled leaves or spray something on them?
Rick, Thanks for the input on crop rotation. In reading a lot of old posts it seems everyone agrees with you. It's fine if you have tons of room, but I only have a few raised beds and some containers going. I did move my tomatoes this year though. They had been in the same place for about 3 yrs. and didn't do so hot last year.

Gymgirl

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

May 18, 2012
7:52 AM

Post #9128349

Peggy,
Arcadia is now at the top of my list. Grew it for the first time last season and would grow it just for those gorgeous blue-green leaves. Here are a few observations:

It does seem to be a slow grower in the beginning, but when it takes off it keeps on producing until YOU take it down. I harvested almost 4 huge popcorn bowls of side shoots for months after the head.

Keep it moderately moist, and don't let it dry out. It is a water HOG! Give it a fast-draining, well-aerated soil, and it'll reward you.

Keep it fed. Most of the brassicas like a nice organic soil, so I add a good dose of composted Black Kow Manure to my planting medium. Afterward, I water with MG water soluble plant food for veggies (24-8-16). I've found that when the plant stalls and I've been diligent with watering needs, it means the baby is HUNGRY! Maybe side dress with something with a balanced fert.

They can take direct sun, but they truly love a cooler/colder area with BRiGHT light. When it started getting warm here I had a line of buckets alone a cool, breezy fenceline that was mostly shady until the afternoon. Those Arcadias cranked out HUGE sideshoots until I just gor tired and ran out of freezer room!

Hope this helps.

Linda

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idealpeggy
Lexington, KY
(Zone 6b)

May 21, 2012
5:22 AM

Post #9131522

Hey Linda, I was describing these E-buckets to my hubby this weekend, and he is game to try. One question, I remember reading on that string that someone said not to use PVC piping because it might leach into the soil. What do you use for the pipe part?

Gymgirl

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

May 21, 2012
9:50 AM

Post #9131961

PVC piping...

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

May 21, 2012
6:15 PM

Post #9132634

>> I did move my tomatoes this year though. They had been in the same place for about 3 yrs. and didn't do so hot last year.

That might be smart, but don't bet the farm that doi9ng poorly was due to soil-borne diseases or anything soilo related. Last year was very cool for many, and very dry for others. If your weather was unusual, that may be why they did poorly.

Did they look sickly, or just grew slowly and bear lightly?

idealpeggy
Lexington, KY
(Zone 6b)

May 22, 2012
8:45 AM

Post #9133411

>>Did they look sickly, or just grew slowly and bear lightly?

Bore lightly. . .the heirloom grew really tall, the leaves yellowed and fell off, but the ones we did harvest were delicious! The tomatoes on the Sweet 100 were tiny. . some like BB's, but again, tasted good. The Early Girl wasn't much. All in all, they just weren't up to snuff. You may be right though, maybe it was the weather.

Linda, you're a scream! Has all that plastic affected you adversely? Funny...!

Gymgirl

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

May 22, 2012
8:48 AM

Post #9133418

Uh, most people would say "No," but some people would say I'm losing my mind!

All in all, for the small scale planting I'm doing, I'm not worried about using brand new PVC piping for 24" fill tubes...
idealpeggy
Lexington, KY
(Zone 6b)

May 22, 2012
9:13 AM

Post #9133460

I'm relieved. . .that makes it a lot easier, thanks!

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