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I purchased 2 Bonnie tomato plants in roughly 6" pots on an impulse, and should have looked at the variety, they are Black Prince.
Transplanted them to E-buckets with some Basil also, that did not look as large in their pots, but seem to be crowding now. Anyway, one plant is going very strong, the other looks like it will be dead soon being wilted and droopy. The bad one had 3 small tomatoes on it when purchased, and a squirrel took them. It has not flowered since whereas the other plant has two small recent tomatoes and about 6 flowers. Both purchased pots had a few bugs in them and I squished all the ones I could see.
I followed the E-bucket instructions, used Fafard potting mix with the following added along the outside in a ring and transplanted them in early July:
4 tbsp of garden lime
2 tbsp of Epsom Salt
2 tbsp of Osmocote
They both looked wilted after I transplanted them and I was probably over watering them. Then I switched to an automatic drip system that watered once then skipped 2 days. One perked up and is doing fine the other started a comeback, but now looks as if it is dying.
I added some blood meal per the instructions on the bag after the squirrel came and I read that it might keep them away.
Then I saw some half inch, small white worms on the top of the soil in the sick plant, none in the other. I didn't do anything but they seem to be gone, or are they down there eating the roots?
I read that there are a few diseases that basically kill the plant but is there anything I should try?
The leaves do not have any obvious spots or issues that I can see but they are completely droopy and wilted - still green.
I'm very tempted to dig it out and see what happened or if the worms are down there.
Any hope for salvaging it?
Worms are there or in the tomato- I'd probably burn the bad bush and treat the other before it sets fruits. Dunno what your worms were- sometimes 'already been used-or new dirt' comes with hitchhikers. Sounds like the squirrels are looking for water- and/or food is scarce.
Thanks for the advice, do you mean that the worms are deep in the soil eating the roots most likely?
I'd guess that they came along with the Bonnie plants which were outdoors when I purchased them. The Fafard potting mix showed no signs of life. I forgot that we've been having a serious heat wave here and it was very hot when I transplanted them, 95+ then it cooled down into the 80s during the day, 70s at night, we are back into the 90s this weekend.
The Basil that is in the same pot looks OK, is it safe to eat - just curious I probably will not anyway?
A few leaves look like they have a bit of black mildew on the Basil, but not a lot.
O heavens! Basil will be fine, but try them in a diff pot. Maybe when u do that u will find something more in the dirt...I am not an expert! Trust your judgement on what to do- instinctive reactions are there to protect us- can you access any other forums? Beginning vegetable - or beginning gardening has a few oldtimers that keep track and are much better than I at this
Ok. From what I see, my first thought is that the basil is crowding out your tomato seedling -- or will in a minute, and competing for nutrients in the soil.
When you added the Bloodmeal, you added nitrogen, correct? Tomato plants don't need a lot of nitrogen, or you'll end up with lush greenery and few fruits. Tomato plants general do not set fruit in temps higher than around 82 degrees, but if you're heading into cooler weather, if you can keep them alive, they might bounce back.
Please visit my tutorial on constructing an eBucket, and compare your amendments to what's on the tutorial. Something is off on the amounts, and I can't put my finger on it just yet.
And, yes, after you review the tutorial to make sure your construction is sound, and the amendment ratios are correct, I'd pull everything out, and start all over with some NEW potting mix...
if you're not opposed to MG potting MIX, I believe it's cheaper that the Fafard...
P.S. Your soil looks quite moist. Even if you're on an automatic drip system, that small plant should not be taking up that much water, at least not yet! Check to see that your soil bed hasn't collapsed into the reservoir. If it has, your soil will eventually become anaerobic for lack of oxygen exchange space between the soil line and the reservoir line.
If you decide to uproot the plant and repot it, flush it well. Then, remove all the leaves up to about the last 2-4 below the growing tip. Sink the plant all the way down into the eBucket up to those leaves. If it recovers, it'll form roots all along the buried stem, giving you a stronger plant.
Also, remove any blooms and fruits. The plant needs to establish a strong root system, before it tries to expend energy making fruits.
Hope this helps. Keep us posted. I'll be watching this thread on your progress.
It looks to me like the first pot is way too overcrowded - perhaps too much competition for too few nutrients? I agree that you should try removing some "stuff", and while you are in there, you might be able to determine the problem. That first tomatoe plant is decidedly NOT a happy camper, though I have no idea if the situation is terminal! (Some help, huh?)
Linda, one plant is doing well I'd say and I treated both the same way. I do agree that it would be a good idea to remove most of the Basil. I added the blood meal to both plants and did not water it in since I put it on to keep squirrels away so just the scent is needed, right? I will remove the Basil soon and take a look at the roots and construction of the bucket when I have a chance.
I was not up on tomato plants when I purchased them and I probably should have gotten a determinate variety - just my preference since I want a more compact plant. And actually, I use more cherries than anything so that is the type I'll get next time around.
I could not use a lid due to all the crowding, perhaps I should mulch the top?
Wondering, is the intention to always have water there or is it good to go empty or near empty for a short while?
I, too, would remove the wilted plant. Sequee, did you notice this is a Black Prince? It seems from my experience sthat the blacks are more susceptible to the wilt. Two out of three of mine that wilted were black. And I remember you having some problems also. The weather has not been kind so trying to save the wilted one sounds like an exercise in futility. But if you plan to try then Gymgirl's advice is excellent. I use coir in my Coirbags or Promix. Fafard is an excellent potting mix so I question if that was the cause. The only addition to your supplements for me might have been some bone meal or gypsum. Spraying them with a liquid kelp might help the ones still doing OK. Good Luck! I also agree that your soil sounds too wet. It is good for tomatoes to dry out a little in between waterings - not bone dry but not sopping either. I usually add water when the top of the soil dries out but it is slightly damp underneath. I add straw to the top or wood chips to keep them moist when there is little rain in sight. Good luck!!
Thank you everyone for the advice! I think it is late to try to salvage this plant and if the Black Prince is prone to it then I'm happy if one plant does well. The weather has not been helping either so I really cannot complain. I will plant a more hardy variety next time. I'm getting lots of Basil also. I was amazed with how fast the leaves grew after I harvested the big ones. Everything is set up for next season so I'm all set and will pick a better variety next time. I am going to take a close look at the roots, soil, and e-bucket condition when I remove the plant and will report back here.
The wet soil - I had just top watered the sick plant after I had let it go a bit dry hoping that would help.
Wondering about the gypsum, I read about using it to improve the quality of clay soil but why use it in potting mix for minerals?
I'm going to let the healthy plant go into the fall, but I'm wondering if I transplant it into the ground will it likely survive the winter and produce tomatoes next season? I really don't want this large plant in the e-bucket, but it would be nice in the front bed.
I use the gypsum for the calcium in it but the lime should add that as well. Don't give up on Black tomatoes - they can be fabulous. Last year I lost my Amazon Chocolate to wilt right away but this year it is one of the first to ripen and scrumptious!!! and a very healthy plant to boot!! This year I lost the Black Seaman and Cherokee Chocolate to wilt yet I will plant them again because Black Seaman is one of my favorites. Hopefully the remaining Black Prince will reward you with tasty tomatoes. I have not tried that one yet! Tomatoes are variable depending on variety and the season's climate. So it is good to plant different varieties as something will do well. Next summer these could be your best ones - you never can tell!!
I cannot state categorically that Black ones are more prone to wilt than others. It is just something I have observed the last couple of summers and may be a fluke. When conversing with others it does seem that the Black ones tended to be affected first but I have never read this anywhere as fact!!
Good luck and I hope you find these are a good variety after all!!
As an afterthought I googled Black Prince on DG. You might find it interesting what others think of this tomato - pretty positive!
Thanks again everyone, very helpful. I've been reading about them and people seem to really love them. It is an heirloom from Siberia Russia! I thought I read somewhere that heirlooms are not as disease resistant as some of the newer varieties. This is interesting and there are a few comments about how they do better in cooler temps: http://myfolia.com/plants/10-tomato-solanum-lycopersicum/varieties/2688-black-prince
We've been having cooler nights but very hot days.
Also interesting that they suggest a soil pH of 5.0 to 6.0; quite low for tomatoes.
I'm wondering if I should do anything more for the healthy plant. Used 2 tblsp of Osmocote when they were transplanted in a ring around the outside, but I don't think the Fafard potting mix has any built in fertilizer.
They can be hvy feeders, but no nitrogen, I like the premixed tomato fertilizers because I am home so rarely, but our tomatoes like soaked and then allowed to drain so the roots don't stay wet, it was cool up in Chicago last week- I was grabbing sweat pants in the morning, so I am betting in your coolness they need less water where we have dry, dry heat still soaking the ground- your air circulation may be low around them as well if crowded too closely.
Hi, tomatoes can take a light fertilizing every couple of weeks. Like kittriana sain heavy feeders. I have never added gypsum, only lime or a chicken fertilizer that has calcium. Your plant won't survive the winter. As for the plant that's not looking too happy, get rid of it. And make sure you always replace soil when you plant next year. Your basil looks good. Make pesto and freeze it!
I've been busy digging holes and trying to figure out how to drain them for roses and blueberry plants, so no I have not removed them as much as I know I should. I've also been trying to remove wild grape vines, Virginia Creeper, and what I think is Oriental Bittersweet at least from the landscaping beds here - what a mess. Whereever I put the Basil it has to auto water because I'm not good about it. I was going to see if the cool weather brings back that tomato plant - I know a very long shot but it gives me more time to do other work. When the tomato plant is completely dead perhaps I should re-pot all the Basil into the other pot. I'm also nervous about touching the good pot, I'll just try to scoop out each Basil plant and minimize the disturbance of the tomato - really I'd be more comfortable just feeding it more to make up for the crowding.
I did try giving the almost dead plant a watering with vinegar and peroxide as DoGooder mentioned in his thread - he seems to be getting outstanding results so I figured why not but it has not helped.
I have no idea how long to let them dry out when I remove the Basil, good chance I'd kill them. How would you suggest letting them dry out, any tips you might offer? What I have done is gone back to letting it all water on the drip system so that I don't over water.
There are a few more tomatoes on the good plant, I give the flowers a flick every now and then since I read that it helps them polinate. Now I'm worried about the squirrel coming back - perhaps I should hurry up and make a cage.
These seem to be late but Black Prince are from Siberia and they like the cold so I might be getting tomatoes very late into the season. Some say the first light frost doesn't even phase them.
They aren't ones I grow, basil is a weed, can take abuse, but needs room, umm, in ground we water deep every 3rd to 4th day- depends on the weather, but it took a raised bed to get a tomato taller than 2' hi with fruit in this stuff. I don't know about the Black tomatoes, not a variety I see me trying, I am more fond of the plants we grew in the 70's - now heirlooms- I know they are less resistant, could cause you heartaches from the work they cost ya, but they were satisfying all around. I think circulation is a key- try feeding your squirrel and he's more apt to leave the groceries alone- they are little piggies and like to grab more food than they need, but it works at my house- I still see circulation as an issue, and it's possible the basil cost you that mater- that's why I said remove those bad leaves and watch for newly bad ones, good luck
Hi PeteB7, the black toms can be the hardiest. My son is growing Black Krim and it's one of his best so far this season. I'm growing Japanese Black Trifele which originates from Russia, oddly enough.
If you remove the basil, chances are their roots aren't too deep. Just be careful , maybe remove some of the lower leaves and bad ones like kittriana said. I agree, the plant probably needs better air circulation.
I read that if you leave a bowl of water outside for the squirrels they are less likely to eat the tomatoes. No idea if that's true.
Thanks everyone for the info on the Blacks and various tomatoes. It is true that selection can be for disease resistance I suppose.
I removed the Basil from the sick bucket and noticed that I had 3 stalks of the large leaf Basil in this pot and 2 of the smaller. The other pot has 3 of the smaller leaf type and only one of the large leaf. I think that the large leaf type might have a bigger root system and so everything was very crowed as far as roots go in the sick pot. All the Basil plants had very thick and healthy looking root sytems; I was surprised by how large the root systems are. Its possible that the large leaf type are very heavy feeders because none of them were thriving the way the one plant in the other bucket is.
The tomato had very little room for the roots and it was sort of root bound with the roots limited to about a 5" diameter due to the Basil taking so much space. I wet the root system to remove the soil then sort of teased out the roots which now nearly reach to the edge of the bucket. There were no bugs and the soil seemed farily moist. The roots were white and looked healthy as far as I can tell.
By the way, all this Basil came in two 6" pots, they looked like multiple plants so I divided them up and spread them out. I didn't really think it was that much. Lesson is not to crowd e-buckets.
"I did try giving the almost dead plant a watering with vinegar and peroxide as DoGooder mentioned in his thread - he seems to be getting outstanding results so I figured why not but it has not helped."
PeteB7, I'm actually a woman! Regarding the vinegar and peroxide, I haven't added that solution in months. I just added it to the young plant when it was growing indoors.
As for the soil, when I transplanted my tomato plant after it had been outdoors for many weeks, I added mostly Schultz Professional Potting Soil Plus which I got from a local supermarket for about $6.50 per big bag, 20 or 16 quarts I can't remember exactly. Last year I used mostly organic Moo Mix but I noticed my plants performed better with the mass-market, inexpensive Schultz which has fertilizers, etc. I also supplement the potting mix with Miracle-Gro or Epsom salt every few weeks. As a last word I find that my cherry tomato plant performs best if it's watered every day, preferably at night or in the morning.
I apologize, we have no obvious way of knowing with a screen name like yours. I should not have assumed. Thanks very much for the tips and clarification. I stumbled across one info sheet that says these Black Prince type prefer a fairly low pH so I do add vinegar usually when I hand water. I was also doing it for some Blueberry plants that also require a very low pH. They are now on an automatic timer so they are getting straight town water. The pH is too high, perhaps next year I'll add an automatic mixer for acid and fertilizer: http://hozon.com/
Just read that in more detail and it does not look like it will work since it requires a high flow rate - I'll have to look for an alternative.
I've been reading Al's (screen name tapla) posts and he talks about perched water level depending on the mix of the potting soil: http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1226030/
I'm going to use Miracle Grow potting mix as Linda suggests since that is the proven soil to use in the e-buckets where proper wicking is important. I really think that the crowding was the main issue but I want to keep it simple and try to get the best results next time. Thanks also for your potting soil suggestions since for any other pots they might be an excellent choice. I'm always curious about watering because I'm not very good at reading the plant so I think I tend to overwater.
My one plant is going strong and has about 10 green tomatoes on it and more blossoms. They prefer the cold so I'm hoping for fruit very late in the season. We are supposed to get down to 64 degrees tonight.
Every now and then I scratch my head wondering if my memory is failing me, lol. I mentioned a few posts back that the sick pot had three large leaf Basil plants and only one in the good one. I've also said that only the sick pot had fruit when I planted them in the e-buckets. I just looked at pictures from right after planting them in the e-buckets and both plants had fruit and both had two large Basil plants. I do remember that my intention was to be consistent between the two buckets. Something ate the fruit early on from the healthy plant and probably pulled out one of the Basil plants. I know it happened early on because that is how I remember it for most of the time - only one plant having fruit from the start then the squirrel ate it and there was none on either for some time. Then the healthy plant produced buds, then fruit. Still nothing from the sick plant, but it is still green and looking slightly better today.
I removed the Basil from the healthy e-bucket also and will plant them in the ground where I can drip water them. The tomato plant wilted for a few days but looks a bit better today.
Turns out that I pruned a fairly large branch off the healthy plant and thought I'd try rooting it. Put it in a pot, watered it for a week or so and it just looked very wilted and nearly dead for a few weeks so I stopped watering. Then we had a rainstorm and within a few days it perked up, very much and produced a new bud. I'm planning to plant this in the sick plants e-bucket. I will use all new MG soil and clean the bucket with 10% clorox solution.
PeteB7, many people think I'm a man because of my gender-neutral name. I don't care if people think I'm a man or a woman as long as conversation is polite, which is one of the reasons I like Dave's Garden because the tone of conversation here is almost always friendly.
As for the cause of the tomato wilt I agree with your diagnosis that the Black Prince tomato was overcrowded. I read tomatoes need big pots so I guess the strong Basil roots were preventing the tomato roots from growing and/or obtaining nutrition. Some plants have an advantage in taking nutrients from the soil and maybe Basil is one of those plants. I'm glad that the Black Prince is doing better after the changes.
Hi DG and Pete and Linda and all... I think I am going for the epots next year as they are larger than mine and now I am wondering about putting basil in with the tomatoes. I always put in one but it's probably too much competition and sucks up too much moisture.
I never thought about a vinegar solution for toms. You learn so much on these threads. I also was told that if container planting, we should be using a synthetic fertilizer like a Miracle Grow that you dissolve in water because the organic fertilizers do not work well in containers. I am now starting to understand why sometimes my plants start out great then struggle or disappoint. I do fertilize much more often in the container. and I use a container mix with added lime and compost.
Hi Sharon, Linda has very specific instructions about putting the fertilizer in a ring around the outside of the e-buckets but she also uses MG potting mix which has fertilizer included. I put the fertilizer around the outside but I don't think I used her exact formula. What I think went very wrong was that the Basil root system grew much faster, perhaps because they were closer to the fertilizer, or it might just be the nature of the plant. The very large root system pushed the fertilizer ring right out to the edge of the pot and this combined with the very large root mass blocked the tomato plant roots from getting to it. I also used an excellent quality potting mix from Fafard rather than MG, but I don't think it had fertilizer included which also contibuted to the problem. I'm going to use MG next time, and after I get more experience with e-buckets I might try Fafard again with some slow release fertilizer mixed in, in addition to the ring.
The Basil that I purchased in two 6" pots turned out to be about 8-10 stalks which was far too much for just two e-buckets. I think you could get away with one stalk in each bucket along with one tomato plant and I'd probably put them in line with the fill tube so that a slot is just needed in the lid to go inline with the tube and plant stems. But it is safer to just follow the established formula rather than risk it again.
I am also tempted to use liquid fertilizer since it is what Al (screen name tapla) suggests and he makes a lot of sense. He uses a brand, Foliage-Pro 9-3-6, that includes all the necessary minerals also, see Nov 1, 2011 post: http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1226030/
I'd probably use it later in the season when/if it looks like the built in fertilizer is getting weak. I think MG is rated for 4 months so not sure if the liquid is really needed. I'm new to this so just throwing out some ideas. I'm still not sure how to tell from the plant when/if it needs more feeding.
Sharon, Hi! Thanks for the information about the possible dangers of organic fertilizers for potted plants. I was window shopping this week and I saw some Jobe's organic tomato spikes which I was considering getting for next year, but I'm wary because they might not work as well as liquid synthetic fertilizer which produced a fine crop for me this year.
PeteB7, thanks for mentioning how the Basil prevented the tomato plant from accessing the fertilizer ring. The Miracle-Gro fertilized media seems like an excellent idea. If I use that next year I won't have to keep mixing Miracle-Gro solution and it's spread around the plant rather than being in one place like a fertilizer spike.
Hi guys, I find the potting mix still needs compost and lime. Even if it had fertilizer in it, toms are heavy feeders so I fertilize almost weekly a few weeks after the initial planting. But for sure I add the lime and compost. I'm going to look at Linda' s instructions. Actually MG makes an organic fertilizer that gave me good results in the past especially in the ground. Container planting is more challenging. There are also the new dwarf varieties that are geared for containers.
To tell you the truth, the basil that I grow with the toms never does that well and I do think it competes for the space.
Sharon, thanks for mentioning that the dwarf varieties thrive in containers. I was considering adding one to our West garden next to our porch because it would look more attractive than the vine monster that's growing there this year. The Super Sweet 100 I planted there has completely taken over the little garden space and it looks terrible. I keep asking myself what do I like more: eating fresh tomatoes or looking at a pretty garden, and so far my taste buds have decided for me so the tomato plant stays for another week at least.
I did a good amount of reading over the last year before doing the e-buckets and for regular containers I remember suggestions of 15 gal containers and their was mention of containers that "breath" similar to the Smart Pots but that's all I know.
I think Fafard 52 was mentioned in that other thread as similar to 3B, these are commercial mixes that I don't think our local place has. I just noticed that he says in that thread do not use the retail Fafard mixes which is what I did. I have to drive about 30 miles to find a place that has 3B and 52.
A couple posts back I guessed that there were 10 tomatoes on the good plant. I counted yesterday and there were actually 19, now today there are 17. They were in groups of 3 or more and there is one lone tomato so I'm fairly sure I didn't miscount. I see the deer eating leaves at the far edge of our yard and noticed that several Virginia Creeper vines close to the house have the leaves eaten off. I'm fairly sure that the deer come close to the house at night. They seem to be feeding much more than usual probably due to the temp drop and getting ready for winter?
Seems I'll have to look for deer repellant tomorrow or make up a cage.
The sick plant is looking much better but it is so far behind that I don't think it will have time to produce fruit, there are not even any buds on it. I noticed that first frost is predicted as Oct. 15 for zones 5,6,7, We're fairly close to the shore between 6b and 7a. Our weather varies a lot so if we have a mild fall there is a good chance that it will be late October.
I'm starting to top off my toms the Cherries would go on and on. But I don't want to risk it, Nd besides they're getting too tall. It's going to be mild for a while,but I just don't think it'll give enough time for new fruit to form. I'm also removing some of the older, nasty liking leaves. As for the mixes, there are so many types it's enough to drive you nuts. Fafard's is quite expensive here, as is Biosol, Promix, ... I'll just have to figure it out for next year.
If you're not opposed to using some plain old Miracle Grow potting mix, here's the link to recipe I used last season to stretch the gardening budget. I saved a TON of $$$ on container mix. This is the container recipe I got from Tapla (Al) over on the soils and compost thread. It was a long time in the making, but well worth it for me. Hope you can benefit from it, as well.
Regarding the mix formula below, I started out with the 3:1:1 in eBuckets with built-in reservoirs. Over time, I moved to free-draining buckets with holes drilled in the bottoms, because watering wasn't an issue for me. The mix also has evolved, once I observed which plants required different watering needs. My mix eventually ended up being something like a 4:2:1 ratio of pine bark fines, peat, perlite. Some buckets even got a 3:2:1 ratio which gave me slower drainage and more water holding capacity (the peaty stuff). In every case, I used either fresh or recycled MG potting mix as my peat component. I NEVER use potting soil of any kind in a container, as it will eventually compact hard as cement.
I don't think I'm following you, you say that you saved by following the recipe given in the first link which as I read it is straight MG mix plus ammendments. How is this saving? Do you mean over a larger bucket such as 15 gal or more? Am I misreading the link because I don't see any of Al's mixes in the first link; I think you just mention MG mix and ammendments.
About the Fafard price, I paid $11 and change for 2 cuft of retail Fafard (not 3B) potting mix and about the same for the same size MG. I did not look for sales or shop around.
Here is the supplier in my area for Fafard 3B and it provides the ratios for the various components. It mentions a starter nutrient, whatever that means. We could mix our own but from what I've read here there is some work involved to strain the pine bark fines to the ideal size and these mixes save that work/time: http://www.griffins.com/products/product_info.asp?pl=SOILMD&pn=65-1548
Fafard 52 is also there under soils.
I was quoted $18.50 for 2.8cuft of Fafard 3B from that place so that is rather expensive - probably not contractor's price.
The first link was posted as an eBucket construction tutorial only. It was posted before I started using Al's mixes.
Last season I spent approximately $137 on the container mix, filled about 60 buckets, and still have 1/2 of the original pine bark fines (PBFs) order. One yard of PBFs was $30. I only used half that yard. Our big bags of MG (2.65cf) cost $13, and fill approximately 2.5 five-gallon buckets. Using a ratio of 3-4 parts pine bark fines to 1-2 parts MG potting mix, there's no way I could've afforded to buy enough straight MG potting mix to fill 60 buckets.
I calculate 60 buckets divided by 2.5 bags/bucket = 24 bags x $13/bag + 8.25% tax = $338 worth of MG to fill 60 5-gallon buckets...that doesn't include the fert and lime.
And most of my buckets were 6.5 gallons...
One yard of PBFs = $30
3 large bags of MG potting mix @ $13/bag + tax = $42.
NOTE: (I reused all the old MG potting mix from the previous season's ebuckets, cutting in some old with some new for each bucket)
2 bags of perlite (4cf) @ $20 + tax = $43
50 lb bag 13-13-13 or 10-10-10 fert (when I can find it...) @ $23
50 lb bag Dolomitic limestone pellets $14
The closest that I've found to pine bark fines in my area, and I asked at several places not finding any, is Nature's Choice "bark with the best" Premium Pine Bark Mulch - Red bag in this picture: http://www.barkwiththebest.com/natchoice_prod.pdf
All I can say is that it mostly looks like small bark chips with the largest about 1/2 to 3/4" which is about twice the correct size. It could be sifted I suppose. I have no idea if this would work well as I bought it to actually use as mulch and then was surprised by the small size. I paid $5.99 for a 3cuft bag which I think is a decent price.
Has anyone tried this product, sifted or not, for making potting mixes?
Tryina' go home. But, when you said CHIPS! I got excited. It took me almost 5 months to find the right stuff here, and it was right under my nose! But, it took Al to find it for me.
What you want is a pine bark that goes from what seems to be "dust" all the way up to about dime or quarter sized pieces. If it does contain slivers larger than a quarter, you should be able to hit em with the side of your shovel and the pieces flake apart into flat slivers you can snap between your fingers. Stay away from chunky nuggets, stringy bark, trashy bark without a good amount of "dust" and dirtlike particles. You'll use that dust and dirtlike medium in your mix!
Here're some quick pics of THE RIGHT STUFF, as best as I could capture. It should not be overly dry, even when it appears to be, cause it will/should hold moisture.
Pic #1 Is the pile at my supplier
Pic #2 is what I took home in the truck bed
Pic #3 is some of the larger chunks you might get. If I hit 'em with the shovel, they make pieces like slivered almonds that I can further snap down to smaller pieces
Pic #4 shows how moist it is, and how it looks after you sift out the larger pieces. Also, you can see a good ratio of dust/dirt pieces to nickel & dime size pieces.
Pic #5 is like #4. The RIGHT STUFF almost reminds you of nice MG potting mix before they started putting all the trash in it and it had some umph to it!
You want as much of the outter tree bark as you can find. Not the shreddy, stringy pieces from the pulp of the tree. The outter bark will sliver, snap and even crush down into dust particles.
Here're some pics of THE WRONG STUFF, and why it's not suitable:
Pic #1 Not enough bark or dust particles; too shreddy
Pic #2 slices too thick and not from the bark of the tree. Won't sliver; no dust
Pic #3 too many stick pieces; not enough bark or dust
Pic #4 is to shreddy; not enough dust
Pic #5 is way too chunky, with not enough dust to small pieces ratio. After sifting, you wouldn't have much usable material, and it wouldn't be cost effective.
You need a good ratio of small particles to dust particles and less large chunks. But, if it's the right stuff, you can run the large sifted out pieces through a chipper and it should give you more slivers & dust.
Gymgirl, thanks for the informative pictures about pine bark fines! The best I could do this year was get a few cubic yards from a local rock and mulch distributor. They gave me a variety they say that a greenhouse also orders, however, the greenhouse must sift it because some of the pieces are about 2 inches. I remove the large chunks by hand when I create potting media, and I've had mixed results with different formulas and plants.
Here is the Nature's Choice "bark with the best" Premium Pine Bark Mulch,
this was a handful taken from the top of the bag and generally the smaller
pieces fall to the bottom. What do the experts think, I'm going to compare
to your pics once these are up:
I have a feeling that putting say 2-4 gal at a time in a heafty garbage bag and
then pounding it with a cinder block might split some of those larger pieces.
I had one almost fully ripe tomato and it is GONE!
Down to 16 lol!
I don't mind sharing but I have a feeling that they'll all be gone soon.
They are picky now taking the ripe ones.
Might be a racoon, not sure.
My cell phone fell in the test hole for the blueberry plant luckily it was dry,
took me a while to find it. Knew I had it outside.
Wow, who knew! Thanks Linda. Honestly, I never even thought or had any idea about using pine bark mulch. You're so right, the MG mix is very expensive here too. Thanks so much for the links and all the info. Pete, put some mesh around those tomatoes!!!
I guess I have my work cut out for me. Linda, my God! How do you keep up with all those containers!!!!
Honestly thanks for all the information.
I'm not seeing enough "dust" in your sample. Honestly, when I hit my pile to get a shovel, I have to hold my breath cause a dust cloud come up at me! Once you sift and moistened "THE RIGHT STUFF" all those dust and dirtlike particles come together just like artificial "soil". Once I saw this happen, I really understood the difference and what I was looking for.
Try another source. Contact Al over on the Soils and Composting thread. He can help you locate a source in your area. I just remembered something. My supplier sells it as "double grind pine bark". Try asking for that.
I'll try Al and using the "double grind" reference.
I think that the bag acts as a sieve and the fine stuff goes to the bottom
so let me look and take some from the bottom to see what is there. What
do you think of the max size?
I can get by with Fafard as my source since 2 to 4 cuft is often all I need
for now. If I need large quantities I'll look for the "double grind" etc.
I suppose I might need some if I want to try a special mix but that would
probably be next season. I am looking for suggestions on what type of soil
or mix to put in the ground after I dig a hole for a new plant. Did I miss a
thread on here covering it?
I mix of a handful of Epsom Salts,
1 handful of dolomite lime,
1 handful of worm castings, and
1 handful of Bone meal into a large ziplok bag.
Once I have my hole dug, I fill it with water and let it drain. I grab a handful of the mix and loosely sprinkle it around the sides of the hole. Then, I mix a bit more of it with some of the backfill soil on the bottom of the hole, set the plant, and water in just a bit more.
speaking of dwarfs, I'm hoping to get my hands on Tasmanian Chocolate from Tatiana's tomatobase. I ordered seeds too and I know I ordered a dwarf, but can't remember which one, LOL! ( I ordered so much, I can't keep it straight)
I have to confess that I keep my cooking fairly simple and mainly use cherries since I don't have to cut up larger tomatoes, just smash the cherries. They are also good in a bowl to pick from. I don't mind making a tomato salad with the larger ones but I just don't do it often. So I'm mainly interested in cherries. Here are a few more small fruit types: http://www.tomatogrowers.com/Small-Fruited/products/8/
Hi Pete, thanks for the link. I love Rachel Ray. Here's a recipe from Fine Cooking using cherries. I was trying to find another one, but of course I can't! You can access new recipes for free with Fine Cooking, but the older ones you have to be a paid member!!!!
I'm just hoping no critters attack my plants. Im pretty sure they have gone after some of the cherries, but at this point, it's too late!
For the Vinaigrette
1-1/2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh, finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
3 Tbs. red- or white-wine vinegar
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. finely chopped garlic
1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
For the Salad
3/4 lb. green beans or wax beans (or a mix), trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/2 lb. dried campanelle, cavatappi, or other short, chunky pasta shape
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
3 Tbs. pine nuts, toasted
Freshly ground pepper
Make the vinaigrette:
Put the basil, olive oil, Parmigiano, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and lemon zest in a blender. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste
Make the salad:
Put 4 to 6 quarts of salted water in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
Drop the green beans and/or wax beans into the boiling water and cook until the beans are just crisp-tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the beans from the water with a slotted spoon, and transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain and cool. Drop the peas in the water and cook until just tender, about 2 to 3 minutes for fresh peas (frozen peas only need a minute or so to thaw them). Remove the peas from the water with a slotted spoon and transfer to the paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Gently blot the peas and beans dry.
Return the water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook just until al dente, following package instructions. Drain the pasta thoroughly by shaking it in a colander and immediately pouring it out onto a rimmed baking sheet. Toss the pasta with the olive oil to prevent sticking.
Transfer the cooled pasta to a large serving bowl. Add the beans, peas, and cherry tomatoes and toss. Add just enough vinaigrette to moisten the pasta, taking care not to overdress it (you may not need it all). Add the pine nuts and toss again. Let the salad rest for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld and then taste the salad again. If necessary, add a little viniagrette and salt and pepper. Serve as soon as possible.
About two weeks ago, when I last counted we had 30 tomatoes on the healthy plant and we've eaten about 7 from it so far, better than zero I suppose.
The sick plant got a little better, but never really took off. I removed it from the e-bucket, completely washed everything and planted the very healthy clipping in it with MG mix. It has really taken off and is probably 3-4' tall almost caught up with the healthy plant. It has about 5 tomatoes on it.
I tossed the sick plant in a bucket with the original potting mix with the thought of planting it in the ground. Didn't pay too much attention to it and then with the cold weather it flowered and has about 3 small tomatoes, lol! I don't think it was ever really sick, just choked off by the Basil.
I've mentioned that we're in Connecticut very close to the shoreline and always noticed how we can have some very mild winters - my mom often mentions this. I've been paying closer attention to the weather and just last week it was in the low 40s at night inland, but the mid 50s along the shore. I was talking to my Barber and he said he had a cherry tomato plant that lasted 5 years making it through the winter! We probably had several mild winters in a row. He knows and I learned on here that this is not expected at all - for a tomato plant to survive the winter. I'm thinking of trying it with these plants since they are from Siberia, lol! Completely out of curiosity.
I have a feeling that we might not have a heavy frost until mid November so I'm hoping that many of our remaining tomatoes have time to ripen. Mid October for the first frost is the average but it is often late October and very light.
I'm finding top to bottom cracks in the almost ripe tomatoes and read on here that they can ripen off the vine so I picked two of the largest with cracks but they were not close enough to ripe and never did fully ripen. I waited for the rest to get nearly completely red and that has worked much better - they taste quite good after a few days ripening the rest of the way off the vine.
I am aware that the cracks are due to too much water but I don't know how to control it with the e-buckets since it is mainly controlled by wicking. I suppose keeping a lower level in the bucket might help.
I was doing fine with the cage keeping the animals away until the last few days, it is colder and I think they are hungry. The cage is open on top, and the mesh is about 2X3" and something, probably a squirrel is getting in there since I've found 2 inside the cage on the ground with about 1/4 eaten and 2 in the yard. Whatever it is it goes for the red tomatoes!
Pete, btw, I had severe cracking with the Better Boys. apparently with the heat and then the water they can crack, they grow too fast. It's funny because the ones I planted in a pot did better than the one I planted in ground and near a sprinkler, which only came on every other day. The one in the pot often was exposed to really dry conditions because it doesn't retain the water and it was so hot. So I can't figure it out.
And I dont know about you but we've had some cool weather so I am not sure when the first frost is coming!
PeteB7, thanks for telling us the inspiring story about the tomato plant that lasted five years in New England weather! Makes me wonder if I cover my tomato plant whether it might last through the winter. Also, thanks for the tip about ripening tomatoes off the vine. My tomatoes aren't as tasty in the cold weather so maybe I will leave a bowl in a sunny window and let them ripen a few days.
Nancy most of what I brought in had either just started the first blush or had just started to lighten out. I've been told the risk of leaving them on the vine is they can crack and split or get devoured by things not human. Flavor is not affected. So due the ever evolving temps, I'm opting for bringing them in. Obviously ripening g on the vine has its advantage, but sometimes we have to make some tough choices. For th dwarfs, check out the dwarf project on the tomatoville forum. Tatianas tomato base will be listing soon which ones she will carry. There are other seed companies that will have them. Don't know if the list is complete. I can keep you up to date.
Sharon, I will check out Tatiana's site. As for the less tasty tomatoes, I think I know what caused that. In the beginning I would let my tomatoes sit on the vine for several days after they turned red, but after they started cracking due to the rain I started picking them immediately so the ones that were picked earlier don't taste as rich. I almost always eat tomatoes within a few hours after they're picked so if I left them to ripen a few days in my kitchen then maybe they will taste as great as they used to.
We had a freeze but just a very brief one, it is back to 72 today, and nighttime temps are expected to be in the 40s and 50s. The plants had been turning black and even fuzzy black on the stems. Is it mold? Then a few of the fruit turned blackish brown on top of the green with a sort of marble texture. Not sure what this was but I didn't eat it. The freeze killed most if not all of the leaves.
The leaves were looking leathery after the heat waves with it being proportional to how old the leaves were, new ones looked fresh. I'm wondering if this is a hint that those wilted leathery ones should be pruned off. I've read that once the plant is established and producing fruit that far fewer leaves are needed but I have no idea if this is true, or how much to take off.
The 3 tomato plants are still alive and I'm thinking of planting them in the ground with a lot of mulch for insulation. If I chop the stem to the ground or within an inch is that better than leaving a foot or two? Will it sprout new stems in the spring if it lives? I realize that they probably will not survive but I just want to do the experiment out of curiousity.
Pete, I'm not familiar with your zone, but if anything turns black, I would suspect rot and I would toss them. Tomato plants won't survive the winter. The seeds will but not the plant. I'm fairly certain that they are too fragile and like anything that produces that much fruit it has a cycle. Tomatoes are annuals not perennials as far as I know. I have actually started throwing out the tomatoes that I brought in to ripen because color, texture was all getting leathery and black. So it wasn't worth taking a chance. But hey go for it. And if you get volunteer plants next year unless they were heirlooms, you won't know exactly which plant it came from because it will revert to one of the parent plants. I just ordered lots of seeds for next year to make life interesting! Besides, you want to clean up because tomato plants can carry a lot of bacteria that you don't to stay in the soil...
Tomatoes are short lived perennials. I've had them survive overwinter when I lived in Ca. but the production was way down. I'm with Hugobee toss them. That black is probably a fungus that you don't want hanging around in your soil. So throw away or burn the debris.
Any volunteers will be a toss up because they could have crossed with others in your garden. It also depends if they are Open pollinated or hybrids.
These are Black Prince heirlooms. I mentioned in another thread
that my barber had a cherry that came back 5 years in a row, lol,
we both knew that it shouldn't happen. He probably should have
saved seeds from it. He didn't mention how well it produced, if at
all, in the later years.
I understand that you are both correct about the theory, just
wondering why this happened and thanks very much for commenting.
My guess is it got infected with some type of fungus.i have found that some tomatoes get this at the end of the season, it's hard to know. We had such a hot summer and then temps changed, it could be a number of things. I threw out out my better boys because they got all black spots plus most of them cracked. I'm impressed that someone had a cherry tomato plant for that long! Not in Montreal, that's for sure. Personally, this was a hard summer for tomatoes. Besides the cherries the Japanese black trifele did the best for me. I had a huge volunteer cherry this year, produced a fair amount of cherries, but flavour was so so. I think it was from a sweet 100, but it developed so much mildew I tossed it.
His example is 8 x 2.5 feet or 20 sq ft. and he suggests:
Fall: Manure 100lbs/20 or 5 lbs/sq ft
Spring: Compost 100lbs/20 also 5 lbs/sq ft
1lb of Kelp meal
1lb of Fish meal
1lb of Cotton Seed meal
2lb of Bone meal
1 cup of Gypsum per plant
I'm wondering what people think of this? Do all the "meals" really help? The concentrations are quite low per pound.