Post by sphinxeyes on Apr 30, 2009 23:27:34 GMT -5
I'm getting ready to transplant my tomatoes and peppers. Some will go in the ground, but I'll have lots of extras that will need to be planted in containers. What's a good soil mix for tomatoes and peppers that will be in containers. Is regular potting soil good enough to be used with the occassional compost tea, or do I need to mix the potting soil with something else? Last year I just used potting soil and the plants I had in containers grew plenty big, but produced almost no fruit.
Commercial potting mix is almost always based on peat moss with a little chemical fertilizer added, a brand name added and then the price marked up. If this is what you want to use for your plants, mixing your own potting soil with chemical fertilizer can be a little tricky, so you're probably best off using the commercial stuff.
As far as I'm concerned, I don't really want the chemical stuff in my potting soil, so when I can I make my own potting soil by mixing plain peat moss with compost. Generally, the more compost the better, all the way up to 100%, and you probably need at least 25% compost. One of the ways this works better than commercial potting soils is it releases the nutrients more slowly over time, so you don't generally need to add more fertilizer later in the season.
Getting good quality compost is key here. No problem if you have enough home made stuff. Purchased compost is generally of poorer quality, and is sometimes contaminated with trash. If you do need to buy it, it's best to look for compost made from wood or other 'known' waste, otherwise you may end up getting something made from household waste which can be a lot less clean. Of course some cities offer free or cheap compost made from household waste, and perhaps you'll decide to use this, but I personally avoid it.
Also, heirloom tomatoes generally need a lot larger container than you might expect. Different tomatoes are different sizes and have different needs, but I normally think of 30 liters of dirt as being the minimum. You probably measure volume in other ways. This is about 8 gallons. If you like I'll measure the dimensions of one of my pots.
If the pots are too small, one of the biggest problems you'll have is keeping them watered, because they will dry out too quickly. If you don't have large enough pots, you probably won't get much of a harvest.
Post by bluelacedredhead on May 1, 2009 19:01:48 GMT -5
I used 5 gallon buckets for tomatoes and peppers, and 2 gallon or larger for eggplants. I filled them with black earth mixed with a bit of my own garden soil. I used the same fertilizing schedule with the containers as I did with my own garden. Of course, I had to water the containers often. When temps hit in the 80's and 90's, I watered the containers daily.
I wouldn't say that I had bumper crops of fruit from container plants. However, it certainly provided opportunity to give us isolation distances for peppers and eggplant when required. And to try a few different varieties, one plant at a time.
Ooops, forgot. I grew what I thought was a dwarf variety of tomato in a one gallon in 2007. The fruit was tiny and very sweet! In 2008, I grew it in a 3 gallon tub and if it didn't grow to be much larger fruit! Still sweet, but not as much? So you never know, lol
I got some composted manure from the garden center today. It's called Bumpercrop and is all organic with shellfish and other natural goodies. I have some regular potting soil left so I'll probably mix that in with the compost and maybe get an additional bag of perlite.
Now that all my seedlings are getting big and need their own containers (and I've realized that there's no way that my tiny side yard will house even half of them!), I've been adopting them out by the dozen to good homes. It's sad to see them go, but my friends and co-workers are thrilled beyond belief to have them, so it's all good. I have about 30 tomatoes left and 7 peppers and maybe 15 containers gathered so far. (With two cats I've also accumulated a nice supply of 30 lbs kitty litter buckets to use as well.)
Most of my tomatoes are smaller varieties and I don't think any will get above 8 oz, so hopefully they will do well in 5 gallon containers. I've also heard that drilling the holes on the sides instead of in the bottom will retain more water, but I wonder if this would also cause root rot because they'd be too wet. Any ideas on that?
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Holes about 1" up from the bottom will leave a bit of a reservoir, and the plants will self prune their roots out of the area that is too wet for them, but you have to be consistent in your watering practices, or they will continue wasting roots by growing down after moisture if you let it get too dry.
Always pay it forward. grungysgarden.blogspot.com/ I am located about 10 miles. north of the Idaho panhandle and just below Kootenay Lake. The property lies in a small microclimate that gives me a zone 5/6 Canadian version or 6/7 US version. One acre of land at an elevation of 1770', just off the edge of a flood plain. Sandy loam soil, hot days and cool nights (55F).
Tomatoes really like a wet/dry cycle, especially in containers. While some tomatoes are more tolerant than others, I find the optimal situation is watering early in the morning, with just enough water so the plants stay wet through the day but dry out right before they get watered again the next morning. I find the only way I can maintain this kind of precision is with a drip water system on a timer, and sometimes during hot weather there's no getting around watering them twice or more per day. Of course when it rains, there's not a lot you can do about that.
If the tomatoes get too much water, you water them at the wrong times or too irregularly they will split. If you don't water them enough, or the containers are too small meaning the roots can't efficiently absorb enough water, you will get blossom end rot (BER). In general, having more potting soil helps even out the changes in moisture and makes it easier to maintain. Especially if the plants become very root bound, when you give them water it will pour straight through.
If the tomatoes split, it's irritating, but you can still eat them. If they get BER you generally can't eat them. What this means is a container that's too small will normally lead to not getting any tomatoes, rather than just a reduced harvest.
Tomatoes hate having wet feet, but there is a place for catching water at the bottom of the container, if it helps to maintain the proper wet/dry cycle I mentioned. You could do this by putting holes 1"from the bottom, but an easier way may be with a saucer under the pot where you would be able to see the water and dump out the excess if necessary.
Most of this applies to peppers too, but they are much less picky. I haven't successfully grown eggplants in containers.
I normally get just as good a harvest from containers as I do tomatoes planted in the ground, but containers are more work and require a lot more attention.
Over fertilizing tomatoes is a very common problem. If you are growing them in pure compost, my advice would be to not give them any more fertilizer. If you give them too much fertilizer, they will get big and green but not produce many tomatoes, and will be a lot more prone to diseases. If you really must give them fertilizer, it's best to do it only after a lot of fruit has already set on the plant, perhaps in August or so.
I'm getting ready to transplant my tomatoes and peppers. ... Last year I just used potting soil and the plants I had in containers grew plenty big, but produced almost no fruit.
I can't speak for the Tomatoes, but in the case of the Peppers it sounds like too much Nitrogen in the soil-mix you used. Don't feed Peppers too well! It just makes them grow foliage at the expense of fruit. Also, around flowering time, they like some humidity to help them set fruit -- mist them with a sprayer if your climate doesn't oblige.