Tom's in-ground pot-in-pot model for growing veggies

tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)January 29, 2009

So, last year after being frustrated with nematode problems I covered my raised beds with cypress mulch and moved into nursery containers set above the cypress mulch. I had significantly improved success over my diseased soil but noted that the container potting mixes were hotter than optimal. I though about using the post-hole method but didn't really want to be digging new postholes every season so I decided to stay with the containers but use an in-ground pot-in-pot model like some of the professional nurseries do. Hopefully, this will overcome the summer heat and keep my potting mixes cooler. Also, to discourage nematodes from migrating through the bottom holes in the larger containers I spread a layer of oak leaves at the bottom of the containers since nematodes don't like organic material much...so far it's worked.

I'm posting these pictures since several folks have requested better pictures of the setup.

Early fall picture

Early fall picture

Late fall picture, cukes are history!

I just set this cut-back Baby Bubba okra in the 10 gallon bunker for perspective, 7 gallon container, 10 gallon bunker, used for indeterminate tomatoes.

Beefmaster tomato, 7 gallon container, 10 gallon bunker.

Just started super sugar snap peas after pulling out the cukes. 5 gallon containers, 7 gallon bunkers.

The row of sugar snaps....

Just set this Indian Stripe after pulling out a Jetsetter. Yes, I successfully grew large indeterminate's in 5 gallon containers.... 5 gallon container, 7 gallon bunker.

I used the smaller containers in the narrow beds on the north side of the boardwalk.

I hope these pictures answer your questions, if not drop me a line.

Tom

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trinigemini(10 Jupiter)

Absolutely gorgeous...it looks so nice and neat. It also looks like it will be very easy for you to harvest your goodies:-) What are you using as the trellis? Did you make it? Can you take some pics of them? I've already saved your pics for future reference.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 6:34PM
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whgille(FL 9b)

Tom
You get the award for neatness, creativity, and production.
Great looking garden!
Willy

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 7:23AM
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an_ill-mannered_ache

yeah, i agree. very orderly, neat... things my garden can never be accused of. how did you make the bends in the cattle fence so neatly?

i've got a sunny spot along a privacy fence where i'm planning on sinking pots and trying this out with some of the crazy squashed you gave me, tom.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 7:30AM
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flyingfish2(9b w stuart)

Tom, told you are going to need to go A-Z of how to do it.

How you bent the cattle grate, what was the mix, how do you water, feed, fight disease and bugs, etc, etc :>) You have opened pandora's box now! But we all wish for a garden like your's.

bernie

_

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 8:52AM
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olyagrove(z9 Tampa, FL)

Beautiful set up :)
Olya

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 9:36AM
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annafl(z9b/10a Sarasota)

Tom, thank-you so much for posting this! I didn't think I had any more questions, but now that I see your setup in greater detail, I realize that I assumed your pots were a bit closer. I am glad we have only done four so far. I was going to put others between, but now I might not. I think I also put them in an inch or two lower than you, and I'm thinking I may bring them up a little now. I used cardboard/newspaper instead of leaves. Yes, please give us as many details as you can. I enjoy learning so much from everyone here!

Anna

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 10:02AM
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jeff-npr(9b)

Nice garden very neat (tidy). I started using plastic cat litter containers (with the bottom cut off) and burying them more for temperature stability and to save money on amending an entire areas soil. so far so good on the cold snaps and the weeds have not been bad around the containers where i put the sandy soil from the holes. As for the nemotodes i put some mostly finished compost at the bottom. hope it works.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 10:56AM
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nativemel

Tom, first of all: WOW! That is one amazing set up you have going for your veggies. Very precise. I have to wonder if you are a semi-retired engineer. A lot of planning and measuring went into your garden, and I am envious. Thank you for taking the time to post the pictures.

My guess is that the bends in the cattle fence could be made by cutting it to the desired width and then bending that piece around a length of PVC pipe that is about 1 inch in diameter. Just my hypothesis.

Could some GWer jump in here and explain to me what is actually going on with the pot in pot set? What allows the plant to survive better than direct planting? I get part of it - no one wants to plant in possibly nematode infested soil. It's just the rest of it that I want to have a better understanding of.

Tell me more, tell me more...

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 12:32PM
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flanative_sunshine(9b)

Wow! My mind is spinning...

Lisa B.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 1:20PM
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flyingfish2(9b w stuart)

I'll jump in here and say look at the thread under "Hey TomnCath" that I just bumped up to the head of this forum to see Tom's earlier posting on how he bends the grate.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 1:35PM
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littlelizard(z9 FL)

I am totally inspired. What a great garden. I want to plant a small veggie garden using containers and this really gives me great ideas. If you can post any more details about what you have growing in what size pot, I would love to hear it. I'm trying to plan what will work in containers. Also, what kind of pots are you using? Thanks for sharing.
D.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 5:44PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Hi folks, I've been writing a long version of this setup but felt it was taking too long to finish so I though I'd post some pictures in the interim.

Trini - It's Cattle Panel and 8' T-posts

Willy - Thanks, always nice to see pictures of your amazing garden too!

Ill-man - I take bolt cutters and cut the entire 16' length of CP just below the third section (3 x 6" = 18"). I then lay the 16' x 18" section on the driveway, place a 2' long 4x4 horizontally just after the #10 sections, put my weight on the 4x4 and pull up on one side to about 70 degrees, then get up and use my feet to finish bending to 90 degrees. Repeat on other side. Cut horizontal ends off so you have prongs on each end to stick in the ground for stabilization and you end up with a cage that is 72" tall (9 x 8"), 32" wide (4 x 8") and 18" deep (3 x 6").

Bernie - Guess I'd better get to work finishing the long post ;-)

Olya - I LOVE your flowers, and you're no slouch when it comes to veggies either!

Anna - Give your indeterminates some space, at least FOUR feet, that's something I've learned from Bill.

Jeff - Nice to see you're using buckets this way too, gives the folks here more options.... I've been giving lots of veggies to the deli folks at my SweetBay and in turn they've been saving me the 2, 4, and 5 gallon icing buckets. I'm planning on trying SWCs in some of my bunkers to see if I can reduce the water waste. If successful I may move that way to be more efficient, only time will tell.

Mel - I'm not an engineer, I'm in the medical field and currently working fifty hours a week...let's play What's my Line, OOPS, just gave my age away ;-) Bravo on figuring out how I made the tomato cages, just used a 4x4 instead of PVC so I could put my weight on the 4x4 to keep it from moving.

Well draining soil, cooler soil temperatures than traditional container gardening and lack of pest all equal better production and less work....

Lisa - Nice to see another cracker ;-)

Liz - I'll finish my semi-journal version this weekend and post it by Sunday night...gonna be too cold to plant the stuff I wanted to this weekend anyway :-(

Everybody stay WARM color>this weekend!

Tom

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 7:46PM
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happy_fl_gardener

Tom ~ I can't tell you enough how much I have enjoyed your pictures and tutorial. My garden is too big for your method, but I have to say I did get an idea to make my garden look neater. I am going to buy some of those cattle panels for my pole beans. You are using exactly what I want but I never knew what it was called or where to get it. Tracker Supply said that they keep those panels in stock so they are not a special order item. I WILL have some before planting time.

Christine

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 8:13PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Hi Christine,

I love Cattle Panel! Now, getting it home was another thing....

    Bookmark   January 31, 2009 at 6:40AM
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tclynx

I like Cattle panels too, I built a shade structure over my Aquaponics system using them. (Aquaponics happens to be a great way to avoid nematodes too as well as conserving water.)
[img]http://backyardaquaponics.com/forum/download/file.php?id=9895[/img]
[img]http://backyardaquaponics.com/forum/download/file.php?id=11420[/img]

    Bookmark   January 31, 2009 at 9:13AM
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tclynx

Sorry about that I had to re-teach myself how to post pictures.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2009 at 9:25AM
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horse_chick(Sunset 26)

Thank you for those photos!! I've been looking for something better then the GRW many tomato growers use. I just don't like the rust. There is a TSC down the road from me in Plant City. It looks like a trip is coming up for me soon.

I do something similar with mine but I use 15g. pots for my tomatoes and I've never thought to double pot them.

How flexable is that wire? Can it be cut? I prefer surrounds for my tomatoes that are 6'-7' tall. I'd make triangular cages out of it and join the sides with zip ties.

You have a very nice set up!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2009 at 12:29PM
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trinigemini(10 Jupiter)

Very cool you guys have me drooling.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2009 at 1:50PM
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tclynx

Yes the cattle panels can be cut but you need some really heavy duty cutters and some one strong enough to operate them.

Be sure to get the cattle panels as the other kinds of panels are more costly and have wires closer together.

I rather like the pot in pot idea there and if I grow more in pots, I'm likely to try a bit of that.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2009 at 3:34PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Tclynx - nice setup, what do you grow?

horse chick - Cattle Panel is rather inflexible! That's what I like about it, it's really sturdy. You need a good set of bolt cutters to cut it. I have a set of bolt cutters that will work but prefer to use my neighbors heavy duty set, better leverage with longer handles means less body fatigue and less strength needed to make the cuts. I use to make triangular cages out of field fence but being right off Tampa Bay they never lasted very long, however, these things should outlast me. Also, I love the fact that they are only two-sided, makes picking maters a snap. There is the cost factor though, I've only constructed thirteen cages but some folks would find making even that few cages cost-prohibitive.

BTW, I live in St.Pete and travel to your Tractor Supply in Plant City when I need panels because for the most part the whole trip is via the Interstate.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2009 at 5:42PM
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natives_and_veggies(10b)

Very, very cool pics Tom. You've got me wondering about finding a cheap source of pots. I don't have nematodes, as far as I can tell. Is it possible that I have the only plot of garden space in South Florida without them? As long as my plants don't get white fly and I don't accidentally mutilate them with Murphy's Oil Soap, they're pretty hardy. But I like the idea of saving water, less weeding and only amending a limited amount of soil, instead of my whole sprawling garden.

Then again, my main soil amendment _ compost _ seems to be sprouting squash, which I'm happy with. :)

And on the Murphy's Oil Soap assault... the mystery red that I thought was a green zebra, and the Legend, Sungold cherry, unknown yellow and Roma VF have all survived the mutilation and are back to making tomatoes, putting out new growth, flowering and setting fruit, all happy as can be. And we just ate our first fabulous cuke last week (marketmore.) We lost one cuke plant to either neglect while I was out of town, or to a cold snap, I'm not sure. Both plants are in pots on the deck and the one that survived is shaded a bit at midday, and planted with hyacinth beans around it. Happiest cuke I've ever had. (I always lost them to downy mildew or something that looks like it in the ground.)

I've also been surprised by the Dombito (tomato seeds I got free for ordering something else), which I put in a 5-gallon pot on the deck just because it outgrew its starter pot. It seems to like it's little pot and is making yummy tomatoes! Maybe it's just happy to have avoided the Murphy's Oil soap incident.

Susannah

    Bookmark   January 31, 2009 at 7:27PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Too funny Susannah, I'm glad you're doing well. I wish I had cukes right now, was going to start a new batch this weekend but shifted gears due to the cold weather...next weekend maybe. I was going to pull most of my maters and set the new plants this weekend too but with this crazy weather I've moved all my babies back inside to prevent leaf burn :-( Sugar snaps seem to be happy though :-)

Tom

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 8:58AM
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corrie22

Tom, when you pull pots of tomatoes to do them over, have you noticed tomato roots growing through the bottom of the pots?

I want to use my potting soil over as many times as I can, and roots are the main highway for nematodes getting into the potting soil.

Corrie

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 12:37PM
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trinigemini(10 Jupiter)

Doesn't potting soil lose nutrients over time?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 1:04PM
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danay74

hi all, dumb question... Is it a good idea to plant sugar snap and/or onions in the same containers as tomatoes?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 4:25PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Tom, when you pull pots of tomatoes to do them over, have you noticed tomato roots growing through the bottom of the pots?
I want to use my potting soil over as many times as I can, and roots are the main highway for nematodes getting into the potting soil.

Corrie

Yes, but for the 7 gallon containers it has only been in the leaf material at the bottom of the larger pot. I did have two Jetsetters and two Brandy Boys in 5 gallon containers on the narrow side of the boardwalk and they did grow through ALL the pots and into the ground but showed no signs of nematodes. If you're wondering why I say ALL the pots, look at my last post here.

Doesn't potting soil lose nutrients over time?

Sure, I add some supplemental garden lime each time, but since the Nutricoat CRF is a 180 day product I don't add additional fertilizer for the second season as we all know what too much nitrogen will do...I just use a little liquid boost if necessary occasionally with Foliage Pro 9-3-6.

Is it a good idea to plant sugar snap and/or onions in the same containers as tomatoes?

I don't know the answer to that one, I'm still learning too. I know a lot of stuff doesn't want to go in soil where a nightshade family plant has been but I'll defer to those here with a better perspective on this issue. I do know that I planted the Sugar Snaps where the cukes had been and they seem to be doing fine.

Tom

    Bookmark   February 3, 2009 at 6:09AM
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linchat(10b)

What kind of soil are you using? You used 7-10 gallon containers, are these 7-10 gallon containers what the plant stores call them or by volume? What is size in inches?

Thanks, I love seeing these photos.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 7:59AM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

What kind of soil are you using?

Al's mix

You used 7-10 gallon containers....

Typical nursery containers, which are never truly 10 gallons or seven gallons, that's just what they call them. I got them at Prosource One in Plant City.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 12:26PM
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sunithapillai

Oh wow that is an amazing garden. I am trying a raised vegetable beds with manure/soil mixture ( my previous attempts were a pretty much a disaster). Ohh and the cattle fence is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you so much for the pictures ; if the raised beds dont work, containers it is.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 2:48AM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Suni,

What the heck you doing up so late? Or was that early for you? I'm not sure if you're a night owl or a night shift but I get up an hour after you posted this message :-) Glad you liked it....

Tom

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 6:57PM
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Violet_Z6(6a)

Fabulous thread, thanks for sharing all this info!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 7:33AM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Update - well, after five days of rain some of my bunkers are flooded, and of course the water-logged plants in those bunkers are showing signs of water intoxication...I really didn't mean to water-board them :-( It also doesn't help that the garden is downhill from the house such that the downspouts drain all the water off the roof right into the garden.... Sure happy for the rain though.

Tom

    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 6:26PM
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whgille(FL 9b)

Tom

This rain reminds of a book that I read a long time ago "Hundred years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In the book it rain, and rain, and rain.

Today when we went shopping, we had zero visibility, we are lucky we made it back!

Sorry about your gardening setbacks, you will figure it out the solution and comeback stronger.

Silvia

    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 7:01PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Sorry about your gardening setbacks, you will figure it out the solution and comeback stronger.

Hi Silvia,

I post, therefore, I am :-) It's important to post the problems too, all part of the process of improvement for everyone. I've already got the next step figured out, time for more experiments :-)

Tom

    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 7:14PM
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carolynbinder

Hey Tom:

Thanks for posting the link to this thread. Very helpful indeed, and your garden is gorgeous, healthy and thriving. I must get some cattle panel--wonder how I'm going to fit it in my Mini Cooper!

I've also had good luck making our Serious Tomato Cages using cow fencing. Finally, we have mater cages that are tall enough and strong enough to actually support the heirloom tomatoes that get over 8 feet tall.

It's fun to think of and share creative ways to use products like cattle panel for the garden, isn't it? What else have folks used that works well?

Carolyn

Here is a link that might be useful: Cowlick Cottage Farm

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 6:16PM
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zamzow(4b/5a)

I use the pot-in-pot method to landscape with palms and other tropicals in Minnesota - I have included a link below that has a video:

Here is a link that might be useful: Tropical Plants in Minnesota

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 6:45AM
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