What will you grow tomatoes in this year?

solstice98(9b/Orlando)January 26, 2010

In the ground?

In containers?

In bags or soft-sided containers?

I received my Tomato Growers Supply catalog today. OMG there are so many, many choices! Seriously, I don't know how you would ever decide unless you had a farm and unlimited time to tend them. I know there's another thread or two going on which tomatoes you'll all plant, but after looking through the catalog I'm interested to know how you will plant them.

Someone (is it you, Tom?) has the amazing method of the planter within the planter sunk in the ground. That looks great but I'm not going to get to that project this year.

Some of you have raised beds and I know that's been very successful.

I am interested in the bags I saw in the catalog. Has anyone used those? Did you purchase the expensive ones they sell or make your own? I'm thinking heavy contractor trash bags with some big holes punched in the bottom and a layer of weed cloth in the bottom would work just as well. If the outside gets too hot in the sun you could mulch up around the sides for some protection. Is that reasonable? They use them for potatoes too.

Kate

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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Hi Kate, yes the in ground pot-in-pot setup is mine. I'll still use the in-ground method as it keeps the containers cooler, but I'm moving on to the bottom watering reservoir concept using two 5 gallon buckets in each in-ground container to conserve on water.

Tom

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 6:33AM
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whgille(FL 9b)

Hi Kate

I always grow my tomatoes in containers. In Phoenix with over 100 degree weather I used grow bags because they were cheap and easy to lift them to the shade if needed. The only problem is that unless they are full they don't hold in strong winds. It is also an issue when tomatoes get large and you have to hold them. What I did was to put a strong stick in the ground and put the bag next to it. I also had them leaning on a fence or wall for protection from strong winds.

Because tomatoes are only going to last you a season, some people have used anything, including the bag of potting soil, white color is better if you can find it, also burlap material and there are always those white plastic buckets that you can get them for free in a bakery or a fast food place that use pickle buckets. Or empty cat litter buckets. Then you can put a tepee of bamboo sticks to hold them.

I am using a material black bag to grow my potatoes, the good thing is that it breathes, potatoes don't like to be wet. And I was afraid that I lost the potatoes with the freeze, but no they are up and growing. For support I have them growing against the fence. When we had the freeze I cover them with a lightweight material. As they grow I filled with more hay and they should be full soon.

The decision on what kind of tomatoes should be easy for you, just have to think which ones do you use for salads and cooking. Then the next year you can try something different, later on you can have them rotating from the ones you liked. Most tomatoes are good if homegrown.

And if you don't have time to start seedlings, you can always get them at the nursery, you can not go wrong with Sweet 100 for cherry, Better Boy or Celebrity for medium and Beefmaster or Big Beef for large.

Let us know how the project is going, we like to hear veggie stories.:o)

Silvia

    Bookmark   January 27, 2010 at 1:36PM
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dds_sugarfoot

When you said material, did you mean like black canvas or something plastic, or lighter fabric?

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 12:27PM
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solstice98(9b/Orlando)

Great information! Thank you!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 12:57PM
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whgille(FL 9b)

dds

I guess that you are asking about the potato bags? Here is the info.

Kate, you are welcome, I would not use this big bags for tomatoes, they can grow in a smaller bags like about 5 gallons.

Silvia

Here is a link that might be useful: potato grow bag

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 1:26PM
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SusieQsie_Fla

Hi Kate
I've got some humongous pots that cattle molasses comes in and I'm thinking of putting 2 or 3 plants in each. First I've gotta find a source of dirt!

In the meantime I'm putting plants into various spots in the flower garden; although I will take care to not use the same places as last years' tomatoes. Finding a good sunny spot here is difficult and the containers are the best way for me. My neighbor uses Tumbling Tomatoes for some of his and then he gets all my extra 5-gallon paint buckets and fills 'em up with dirt and a cage. I'll probably try the paint buckets if I can't use the molasses buckets.

I'm glad to learn about the potato grow bag. Thanks Sylvia - that is really cool!

Susie

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 3:59PM
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whgille(FL 9b)

Susie

Last year I grew the potatoes in plastic buckets, hopefully this year they will do better with the potato bags, also have different varieties of potatoes.

Last year potatoes

Silvia

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 5:22PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Silvia, how long do you think the bags will last? Their statement said "can be used a second year". Does that mean that's it? Probably does, no?

Tom

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 4:05PM
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whgille(FL 9b)

Tom, I think the bags are going to last me a long time. The material is lightweight but strong at the same time, and I am using a very little potting soil mix with pine bark fines, and I am adding only hay on top.

After all the bad weather we just went through, they look like new, what I like about them is that they breathe. If we can find a similar material, making the bags should be easy and cheap. Half the size would be perfect for tomatoes and peppers.:o)

My guess is that with care they can last a long time, they are easy to clean and store them flat after the season is over. I am also interested on the harvest, I will post results. I have 6 different kinds of potatoes.

After the potato season is done I can do the sweets in the same bag, just change the soil.

Silvia

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 6:28PM
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johnjsr(9A DeLand)

I'm eyeing my wifes collection of shopping bags from Publix, she won't miss a few, ;>) but I wonder if they are big enough. Last spring I tried one of those upside down hanging bags. It was a gift. It fell apart after one season, but that plant produced a lot of medium size tomatoes. It only held about 4 gal of mix. The shopping bags only cost about a buck.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 7:36PM
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amberroses(10a)

I have a few large pots (7-10 gallons), but found out pretty quickly they were too expensive to grow the number of tomatoes I wanted to grow in my dreams.

Last year I went to the Dollar Store and bought some laundry baskets. They had holes on the sides and the bottom. I used some clear packing tape to cover the sides and put some porch screen material on the bottom. Bad weather aside, the plants did pretty well. They weren't so pretty but not as much an eyesore as you would think. I also got a large 15 gallon laundry basket from Target and put holes in the bottom for drainage. The only shade they had was bright orange (it was Halloween time) so I sprayed some white Krylon paint on the outside of the container.

I grew a icebox size watermelon in the 7 gallon pot. Cucumbers and peppers did ok in 5 gallon pots.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 9:39PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

I've been growing my cukes, zukes and cherry tomatoes in 3.5 gallon buckets, the rest in 5 gallon buckets. I'm eying those potato bags, if they hold up that would be a great way to go.

I'm also thinking about what Sylvia said about potatoes not wanting to be wet. I could use some of my current SWC buckets with the setup to use the wicking cup to wick water out of the top bucket instead of into it...probably too late for me to try some now, maybe next year.

Tom

    Bookmark   January 30, 2010 at 7:48AM
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tcanora

I'll be planting my tomatoes in Earthboxes. Last year was my first year using them and I had pretty good luck. Not doing seeds yet as I am a newbie. Want to plant seedlings soon. Is it too early?

    Bookmark   January 30, 2010 at 8:48AM
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msmarion(9aPort St Lucie)

If you SEARCH grow bags there are numerous sources and sizes. There is a nursery in Palm City that sells them as well.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2010 at 8:54AM
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amberroses(10a)

tcanora- don't be afraid to grow from seeds. It is super easy and rewarding. You don't have to use fancy grow lights and all of that. I just put mine outside on nice days. It is a little early to plant transplants but in my personal opinion it is not too soon to plant your transplants IF you are willing and able to move the Earthboxes inside in the event of cold weather. There may be a lot of cold days and nights ahead.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2010 at 9:15AM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

IF you are willing and able to move the Earthboxes inside in the event of cold weather. There may be a lot of cold days and nights ahead.

That's the beauty of the double 5 gallon "Earth-buckets", although they sure aren't as aesthetic, but easy to move. Funny thing though, I had five golden/yellow mater plants in them and five HRCs in them and while moving them into the garage did save them so far five have succumbed to TYLCV and I may lose another three...who says it's only transmitted by the white fly, definitely NONE in site...I think ANY stress may do it :-(

Tom

    Bookmark   January 30, 2010 at 6:28PM
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amberroses(10a)

tomncath:
I had a tomato get TYLCV last year. Maybe they get infected by the whitefly but the virus is dormant until something stresses the plant? Sorta the way viruses can act in humans. Sorry about the lost plants. It sure seems harder to me to grow things here in Florida than it was in my native Ohio. At least we have several growing seasons to try again:)

    Bookmark   January 30, 2010 at 6:52PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Amber, I grew these plants from seed, in the house for the two weeks, on the side potting bench near the front of the house for the next four weeks. I the garden for the last month with nary a white fly in site at any time....

Tom

    Bookmark   January 31, 2010 at 8:38AM
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whgille(FL 9b)

Tom

Sorry to hear about your plants, are you sure it was TYLCV?
My seedlings looked yellow at the top, but that was from frost bite from the weather that we had. After they were foliar fed they are back to the green color they are suppose to have. When the growing media is cold they don't absorb the nutrients.

On the tomatoes that you have left try to do some foliar feeding, maybe that helps.

I got some Principe Borguese seeds from another 10 zone very experienced gardener, she said they are small cherry tomatoes that she let them dry in the vine, and use them as a sun dried tomatoes. I am growing a couple to see how they are going to do.

When we had the freeze I had some plants in the garage and I noticed they were doing bad, I had to transfer them to the open porch that at least was getting some sun and everything survived. I would not put plants in the garage again it is too cold and dark.

Silvia

    Bookmark   January 31, 2010 at 11:16AM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Thanks Silvia, it's clearly TYLCV, no mistaking it.... The Cuban Yellow Grape and Galina are doing well, jury's out on the Aliana but the Lemon Boy and Livingston Golden Queen succumbed to the virus. Can't tell about the five Husky Cherry Red's yet but they sure look like they might have it, I'll know in about a week.

Tom

    Bookmark   January 31, 2010 at 12:32PM
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imagardener2(9-10)

Tom
I'm sorry for your losses and worrying to me that whiteflies could survive a freeze.
I was hoping the cold would clear them from my garden for at least this season.

Denise

    Bookmark   February 1, 2010 at 12:55PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Hi Denise, I started these plants 11/1 so they did get potted up 11/15 and spent a month at the front side of the house and then into their buckets mid-December, several weeks before the really-cold snap so it's definitely possible a few flies got to them before the big chill. This was my first attempt and a mid-season succession between fall and spring....

Tom

    Bookmark   February 1, 2010 at 7:00PM
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steveb3(9a-LOL)

Tom-Geez Tom I hope some make it, you sure had a good jump start on the season. Did you go with the 3:2:1 or the 3:1:1 mix ratio and a 4" wide 4" tall PVC pipe for the wicking area ? I got my 5 gallon buckets and need to start putting a test double bucket set up together. The more I read the more questions come up.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2010 at 10:25PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Hi Steve, this is actually another reverse bucket experiment. No fill tube because I'm wicking water out of the buckets instead of into them. With all the predictions for a wet winter I thought it would not be necessary to cover the buckets and use a bottom reservoir. So, the mix is 5:1:1, top watering and feeding, using the wicking cup at the bottom to wick water out of the mix. So far it has worked, no wilt and until this week no yellow leaves that would indicate too much water. The last few days I've noted some yellow bottom leaves on my first row of Super Sugar Snap peas, middle-right in the picture above.

Tom

    Bookmark   February 2, 2010 at 12:24PM
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steveb3(9a-LOL)

Tom- There you go case in point-LOL. why the need of the wicking basket in the bottom of the top bucket, wouldn't just drilling the holes in the bottom of the top bucket and let the water drip into the bottom insulating bucket do the same ?
Or if the growing mix gets dry then the water will wick back up to the plant ?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2010 at 8:39PM
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redeemed07

First post here and I want to thank all those who contribute. I've been an infrequent lurker for months and appreciate the info!

I started seeds almost 2 weeks ago. I think about 5 or 6 heirloom varieties and I'll be building elevated gardens to do square-foot gardening. It will be my first attempt. The soil is so horrible and I'm just starting with a compost pile and vermiculture bin this weekend so isolated and controlled gardens are my friend until I can build up the soil to decent nutrient levels.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2010 at 9:57PM
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graficow

I have a neighbor who used to have a nursery and now I can have all the big pots I want. Its costly to fill them with decent planting mix but once Ive done it I can keep them topped with compost. Should I be planting seeds yet? Im anxious to get my garden started.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2010 at 10:21AM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Tom- There you go case in point-LOL. why the need of the wicking basket in the bottom of the top bucket, wouldn't just drilling the holes in the bottom of the top bucket and let the water drip into the bottom insulating bucket do the same ?
Or if the growing mix gets dry then the water will wick back up to the plant ?

Steve, NO, NO, NO! You need to understand PWT...read THIS post.

Tom

    Bookmark   February 3, 2010 at 7:19PM
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steveb3(9a-LOL)

Tom- Will you go back to the SWC(bottom) reservoir double 5 gallon buckets in the summer ? If so will you go with a 4" pvc pipe for the wicking area and a 3-1-1 mix. Like I said the more I read the more confused I get plus on the Container forum a lot of folks are in other parts of the country with different summer weather conditions. I know this is a trial by errors but I would like to learn from other people's errors (LOL)in-lieu wasting a growing season plus dead plants and money wasted. And I know every growing season is different I just need a good starting point for my own experiments.
Anyone else please chime in.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 10:05PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Steve, I do use a double bucket system, but I use a hole-saw blade to cut a 3.5" hole in the bottom of the top bucket and then drop a Solo cup through that for wicking....I'm at work now, I'll post some pictures tonight.

Tom

    Bookmark   February 11, 2010 at 7:50AM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Hey Steve, I'm using 3.5 gallon top buckets because the height mimics the EB height, and 5 gallon bottom buckets as the extra depth provides a very ample reservoir. I've been using a 5:1:1 mix when I want to wick water out of the mix, and the jury is still out on a 5:2:1 vs 4:2:1 mix for wicking water into the mix...won't know until the end of this SPRING season. I noted you mentioned summer, but in Zone 10 it's too hot to grow much in the way of veggies during the summer.

Here's a few pictures of bucket building.

Tom

    Bookmark   February 11, 2010 at 5:13PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

And, in case it's still not clear what I'm doing here's my benchmark, and a new site that's popped up recently.

Tom

    Bookmark   February 11, 2010 at 5:46PM
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annafl(z9b/10a Sarasota)

Oh my goodness, Tom, what a production you've got going there! They look very professional. You are sure to have beaucoup tomatoes this year!

Anna

    Bookmark   February 11, 2010 at 7:42PM
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whgille(FL 9b)

Tom, I second what Anna said. You put a lot of work on your project! The good thing is that once it is all done, you will be reusing the same already made buckets and the watering issues will be solved, nothing will dry out on you. Great job!

I had a homemade ice cream store and the flavorings came in different size of those buckets smaller and bigger, we had them by the hundreds, nobody was looking for them then, lol.

Silvia

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 7:38AM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Thanks girls, I'm working on it. Next comes the automatic watering system, got it designed in my mind and half the necessary parts already purchased :-)

Tom

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 2:53PM
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sharbear50(6a Bella Vista)

Ummm, Tom, are you a scientist? Great info at all the links you posted. No, really I am not being a smart as*, you have obviously researched the "Container Gardening" subject in great depth. Very impressive. Thank you.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 9:21AM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Ummm, Tom, are you a scientist?

Actually, yes :-)

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 9:28AM
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chara2(9)

Tom, your buckets look very neat!
I have almost finished my 10 double buckets (both 5 gal.)automatic watering system. The next week I will put it on trial without the plants and if it runs fine - I plan to get my tomatoes set in by the first week of March. The next line will be for the eggplants and Silvia's ancient peppers. I couldn't find the type of float valve they use in the Global buckets - so, I went with the Korky Fill Valve for the toilets from Lowes; it is perfect size and only $7 or $8. This is very interesting experiment and I hope it works for us. Sure, it will be very convenient to go on vacation and not to worry about plants! :)

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 6:02PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Hi C2,

I'm not using float valves, too expensive for me since at times I'll have seventy buckets going....the next link is a 14 minute U-Tube video that will give you and idea of what I intend to do. I'll be using this drip system into the fill tube with a battery operated timer.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2010 at 9:39AM
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sharbear50(6a Bella Vista)

Tom, loved the drip irrigation video. Cool dogs too, they look like my GirlieGirl. Unfortunately my well and pump are a long way from my garden (on the opposite side of my house).

    Bookmark   February 15, 2010 at 9:55AM
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