Container gardening in SC

jknh9(7b)February 18, 2014

Hi all (or y'all :) ),

I'm a fairly new gardener, been at it for a couple of years now. I expand my garden a little bit each year, but I have terrible soil here in central SC. My yard is pretty much solid clay, so I've been trying to stick to containers mostly. I did build a raised bed last year for pole beans and cukes, and they did very well. I was wondering about other types of containers, though. I have a lot of the resin-type pots you get at large garden centers and have had mixed success with them. I've had eggplants do quite well, but the tomatoes have had mixed results. I'm wondering if the container type is not appropriate for my zone since it gets so blasted hot here in the summer. I'm also wondering if I'm putting in the right kind of mix. I have a compost barrel and get good compost from that by tossing in kitchen scraps and some leaves every now and then, so I usually mix that, bagged topsoil, and a bit of bagged organic garden soil. This mix did great in the raised bed, but do containers require something different? I also have partial shade in my yard, so that might also have something to do with it.

Additionally, has anyone had success (or lack thereof) with Smart Pots? I saw those at a local garden center lately and was intrigued.

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lucille(Houston)

Check out the amazing explanations of container gardening from Al.

Here is a link that might be useful: Container gardening explanations

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 4:31PM
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jknh9(7b)

Ooo, great link, lucille. Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 4:34PM
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butterfly4u

Jkn,
Your soil, if it is clay, really needs ALOT of organic stuff in it to improve drainage. You can plant in the soil, clay isn't bad to garden in, it needs tons of compost and composted cow manure in it to grow anything.
Container growing is TOTALLY different than raised bed OR ground growing, raised beds are growing in the ground.
ONLY in closed containers do you use POTTING soil.
Potting soil is for POTS.
Everything else is for the ground.
THink of it this way, when you plant in the ground, wether it is raised bed or ground level, the plants have the drainage from the soil in either case, they can spread their roots out nicely, it's totally different, there is lots of organic things in ground soil.
FOr rasied beds, use GARDEN SOIL and natural compost that you make. Same as ground, only better because the soil is rich where you added it.
FOR containers, or pots. you use INORGANIC soil, or potting soil, it is a closed system. Never use anything else, unless you will make your own.
I buy really good potting soil at the garden centers for my pots.
Because you are potting them here in the heat, you really have to keep an eye on them and not forget to water them in our dry hot summers.
Watering will become a chore, so do it really early, as early as you can so your plants don't burn.
You don't have to do this with raised bed and the ground, but pots are totally different.
Remember, garden soil for the ground and rasied beds.
POTTING soil for pots.
Pots restrict your plant, both growth and searching for nutrients, so you have to keep up with proper watering and feeding.
Hope I could help a little bit.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 9:20PM
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nandina(8b)

Moved to SC. Had problems growing in containers until closely following Tapla's directions given in the link above. However, I found that the most important part of his directions is to 'wick' around the inside of the pot bottom with a piece of clothesline (not the plastic type) which extends through a drainage hole a bit, then set the pot up on pot feet or bricks so it can drain well. Also, if possible...best set-up is morning sun and dappled afternoon shade

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 11:36AM
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charlieboring

I am in Virginia and my soild is also clay. When I moved here, In the areas that I wanted to grow things, I added humas and manure purchased on sale from HD and leaf compost either composted myself or obtained freee from the county transfer center. I mulched everything with either shredded limbs/hardwood (for landscaped areas)or leaf compost for the garden. Each year I add more compost and humas/manure. I also put in several raised gardens. Everything now grows well in the soil mixture.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 11:49AM
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charlieboring

I am in Virginia and my soild is also clay. When I moved here, In the areas that I wanted to grow things, I added humas and manure purchased on sale from HD and leaf compost either composted myself or obtained freee from the county transfer center. I mulched everything with either shredded limbs/hardwood (for landscaped areas)or leaf compost for the garden. Each year I add more compost and humas/manure. I also put in several raised gardens. Everything now grows well in the soil mixture.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 11:50AM
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nocdavis(7a)

I grow outside of Charlotte in containers very easily. Everyone says you can't grow tomatoes in 5 Gallon buckets but I find that is not true. I had great success with Black Krim, Roma, Big Beef, and Mortgage lifter last year.

The key is to not use the natural soil and get a potting mix (has to be soilless) and do it in a sub irrigated planter. Two five gallon buckets, and away you go. My plants got over 8 feet tall and I had to use a ladder. This year I'm building a 3 x 6 sub irrigated bed.

Let me know if you want more info.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sub Irrigated Planter Box

    Bookmark   February 20, 2014 at 12:50PM
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lorabell NC(8)

Nocdavis

Those tomatoes look great! I do containers for my peppers and cherry tomatoes and they do very well....but not my regular tomatoes. So, tell me more of this double decker white bucket. Top bucket with soiless mix, holes in bottom, plant, then lid with hole on top... Bottom bucket no holes in bottom, water in it all the time? How do you control too much water during our downfalls? What am I missing..

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 8:11AM
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lorabell NC(8)

Ahhh..that's why the lid's in place... Brain in not working this morning.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 8:13AM
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nocdavis(7a)

Lorabell,
Yes you are partially correct - the lids help keep out the rainfall as well as prevent evaporation. I think some stat shows it uses 80% less water this way. To prevent over filling you drill a small 1/4 inch hole in the exterior bucket right below where the interior bucket sits when it is nested. Then when you are watering you fill until water starts shooting out of the overflow hole.

There are a couple of different thoughts on how you get the water to wick up to the roots. Some people cut a big hole in the bottom of the interior bucket and use a solo-cup/yogurt cup filled with mix that sits in the bottom water reservoir. Personally I didn't like this approach so I actually used 2 long strips of fleece about 3-4 inches wide and about two feet long placed in an "x" pattern across the bottom of the interior bucket.

I've included a link at the bottom that talks about how to use that method. If you browse that site you'll find all kinds of useful info on sub-irrigated planters.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wicking Strategy for Sub-Irrigated Plantersv

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 8:30AM
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lorabell NC(8)

Can I ask your fertilizing choice. I have been using slow release organic pellets that I include when first planting.... Is that enough?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 12:35PM
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nocdavis(7a)

I use espoma "garden-tone" which I picked up from one of the big box stores. I don't think it's the best but it worked for me. I also used Miracle Gro potting-mix (Not potting soil and not moisture control)...it worked okay but I'm going to switch to Pro-Mix HP this year for the big 3x6 wood sub-irrigated planter. I plan to re-use the MG in the buckets though.

I'm planning on creating a thread to chronicle the success/failure of the wooden planter box.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 1:56PM
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lorabell NC(8)

I've been using faford the last couple years. First year I sifted the pine fines,perlite, peat....never again. I did 50 fiive gallon containers ...took me over a month to fill.

Last year had 200 in containers.... I'm allotted a pellet of faford a year...that makes up my valentines day, anniversary and mothers day present from my husband. Ha. I don't reuse the soil. It becomes the top layer of mulch for my flower habit.

This year sticking with the 200 in white buckets but will be doing that double thing ...sounds worth a try.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 3:08PM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

I made some self watering containers from the plans at Mother Earth News to get a jump start on the season, they work great.

Here is a link that might be useful: MEN self watering container

This post was edited by wertach on Sun, Feb 23, 14 at 11:17

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 11:15AM
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