I'm really green, need help!

kitchen_phoenixMarch 3, 2006

Hi, I really love reading this forum, and have found that you all are such helpful and knowledgeable people. It's time that I de-lurk, introduce myself and BEG for help :~)!

My name is Elaine and I've been known to have a brown thumb. Until recently, because I live in a condo, I thought the only way to get fresh veggies was to pay the high prices at my grocery store or farmers market. Then I noticed one of my neighbors had a container garden gone jungle on her patio. It was a thing of beauty; she even gave me seeds from her tomato plants. She was going to help me this year, but instead she moved.......dang it!

I need help and I need it fast! I'm so totally clueless as for what to do next. Here's what I've done so far:

I've started seedlings for yellow pear, red pear and tiny tim tomatoes, space master cucumbers, early California wonder peppers, black beauty zucchini (not looking too good!) and Kentucky wonder pole beans. I also have an assortment of herbs (they were SUPER easy!). I started everything in Jiffy-7 peat pots, committed seedling murder and thinned everything down to two plants each pot and have put a couple of the larger seedlings into a more spacious accommodation (tomatoes and herbs).

I'm concerned with a couple of things. First, my condo faces due west so we get tons of sunlight with NO shade. Have I picked the appropriate plants? They all say abundant sunshine, but I have to wonder if we get too much SS? Also, when do I commit the plants into their large pots and what size pot do I put them in. When watering, how do I know the difference between under watering and over watering? How do I know I've given them the exact amount they need? I suddenly feel like a new mother that has to check to make sure her kids breathing in the middle of the night.

Sorry about the long read, I'm just very anxious yet very excited as well!


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wolfe15136(z6 PA)

No, you can't get too much sunlight for those plants.

Pot size! Well, for the tomatoes, 12 to 18 inches in diameter. Some people grow them in bags of soil, some in 5 gallon buckets.

Watering can be as often as twice a day, depending upon the heat. You must be sure you have drainage in any container you use, which will prevent any over watering.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2006 at 12:18PM
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Thanks, I heard that wooden wine crates are excellent for tomato plants and I can get them pretty easily from a beverage store across the street. Does anyone know if in fact wine crates work an if they're treated with anything?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2006 at 12:56PM
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wolfe15136(z6 PA)

I have never seen a wine crate, but you can line wooden boxes with landscape fabric to prevent soil from seeping out the holes. I bet that would work for you.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2006 at 4:03PM
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romando(9b/10a , sunset 17)

Yes! For my larger containers, I usually stick with the large large large sized (like 5 gallon or larger) black, super plain (just like the gallon sized plastic sleeves you'd buy a plant in at the nursery) containers. You can get them for around $5 at Home Depot and the like. I use coffee filters (even used ones work fine-- some plants like the acid from the coffee grounds, but you can use clean ones too) to block the drainage holes so the soil doesn't run out all over the place. But the filters let water drain away just fine. I do have a wine barrel also, though. I didn't treat it or line it with anything-- I just got it home from the do-it-yourself wine place and filled it with potting soil and started planting. I did, though, drill some drainage holes along the bottom perimeter. But that's it. It's held up just fine for the 5 years I've had it.

Amanda 'romando'

    Bookmark   March 3, 2006 at 5:37PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

If you can find a place, like a landscaper who gets lots of tree pots, scoop those up. Those are the 'really large" containers Amanda is talking about. I sometimes get people just dumping them on my driveway now they know I like them (I use them as trugs). So many uses! I got my first tree pots by driving by a landscaping companies lot and seeing them all stacked up. I asked for a few and they were more than happy to get rid of them.


    Bookmark   March 5, 2006 at 10:51PM
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OK, it looks like I'm going to be overun in tomato plants as the seedlings REALLY like my window sill at work! how big a container would you need for two (2) tomato plants each and how big do the plants have to be when I put them in their final pot and take them outside? Thanks for all of your help, I think the "kids" will make it after all!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2006 at 1:23PM
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fliptx(Houston 9)

If you get lots of sun, I would suggest using light-colored containers when the weather starts to warm. If the containers are black, they can be wrapped with white plastic or painted with the right kind of spray paint. I used to use those dark green or black nursery style pots in my garden but around April or May, the containers got so hot that it was bad for the roots.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2006 at 11:35AM
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CPeters(z5 Chicago)

I've had really good luck using wine crates in the past:

I mostly use them for herbs now, but I've successfully grown beans, peppers, and even corn in wine crates. I'd say one tomato plant per box should do fine.
Prep the crate by lining it with plastic, drill some holes in the bottom, and line it with mesh. If you want the crate to last longer than one season use wood glue to on all joints and seal them. Line it with plastic so the soil never comes in direct contact with the sealed surfaces.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2006 at 2:34AM
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fliptx(Houston 9)

cpeters, where do you get wine crates? They look great!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2006 at 8:31AM
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CPeters(z5 Chicago)

I get mine from a large liquor store in Chicago that sells a lot of wine (Sam's) - they leave them out front for people to take home.

Any store that sells a large selection of wine should have them if you ask, I have a friend in Indiana who found about 50 behind a Meijer's one day.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2006 at 10:27AM
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wolfe15136(z6 PA)

So that's a wine crate. In Pennsylvania, the only the State is allowed to sell wine and liquor, so they have a monopoly.

They don't give anything away!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2006 at 4:36PM
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