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compost - tomatoes

Posted by sonnyside 7 Md (My Page) on
Tue, Apr 29, 14 at 9:52

I have a lot of compost left over is it a good idea to put some in my 5 gal buckets for my maters. In other words growing in all compost.


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RE: compost - tomatoes

I just put some links in the other thread, below.

"Compost is like snowflakes" :-), but I would guess you need 20 percent sand, or [oops, perlite], rice hulls, etc to improve drainage.

But hey, you could test water a pot full ...

Here is a link that might be useful: Toms in Smart Pots

This post was edited by johns.coastal.patio on Tue, Apr 29, 14 at 12:44


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RE: compost - tomatoes

Some people do grow in all compost. What they don't say is what their compost consists of. Everyone says "compost compost compost" but hardly ever go into detail of what their compost is. For example, I use a product that is advertised as compost but it looks like topsoil. There is manure somewhere in there. Another product, also called compost, has twigs and wood and looks like another brand's potting soil. It's defined as being humus with other organic materials.

So give it a try and let us know how the tomato will grow in your compost.


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RE: compost - tomatoes

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 29, 14 at 16:16

It is not recommended in containers. What many fail to understand despite all the research is for compost and similar additives to work, to feed the plants, there must be an active soil food web of bacteria and microorganisms to convert/digest the compost to a form usable by plants. Without that active micro herd the compost is not a source of nutrients.

In gardens and raised beds that herd develops naturally and can thrive so compost works great. In containers, especially small containers like 5 gallon buckets, it doesn't exist. And even if one adds beneficial bacteria to the mix they cannot survive for long in the contained, rapidly heating, frequently flushed with water environment.

The need for this active soil bacteria in gardens has been a well known concept for many decades but when some switched to containers from in-ground or raised beds that incorporate soil somehow the way-it-works got lost in the shuffle.

Just as gardening in a container is unique, is totally different from gardening in ground, organic gardening in containers is totally different from organic gardening in the ground. For best success it is important to understand the differences. You can find much more detailed info on all this in the many discussions about it on the Organic Gardening and the Container gardening forums here. But the bottom line is it is your choice to make and comparing the results in your own containers is a great way to learn what works best.

Dave


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compost - tomatoes

I have a lot of compost left over is it a good idea to put some in my 5 gal buckets for my maters. In other words growing in all compost.

Once the junk has been "composted" there remains not much for the very active bacs to munch on. They apparently do not prefer inorganic forms of N and stuff. But many plants do and contrariwise, are unable to use some organic forms of nutrients... cannot met urea but bacs can break it progressively into simpler salts of N which plants can use. Won't find much bacterial growth in a soln infused with Miracle Grow stuff, but maybe a lot of algae. No fear in using it (compost) in containers I think even tho I have never grown in them.

Reggie


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RE: compost - tomatoes

"It is not recommended" by some, but it is recommended as an option by some trustworthy authorities as well.

Here is an excerpt from a 2001 Factsheet by Ohio State University:

"Use either a soilless mix or soil mix for your container. Soilless mixes are readily available commercially, and include Jiffy Mix®, Bacto®, Promix® and Jiffy Pro®. These mixes are made up of peat moss, vermiculite, and either coarse sand or wood products. Vermiculite holds several times its weight in water and nutrients, and keeps container mixes moist. The soilless mixes are lightweight and may be the best choice if the container is to be moved frequently. A soil mix is often made up of one part sphagnum peat moss or compost, one part pasteurized soil, one part vermiculite or perlite, and some composted cow manure. Soil mixes tend to hold water better than soilless mixes."

Here is a link that might be useful: Container Vegetable Gardening


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RE: compost - tomatoes

Dig, explained nicely and very informative!


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RE: compost - tomatoes

I look at compost as a soil amendment first then source of some nutrients. In small container compost will have little or no advantage, other than being JUST A MEDIUM. Plants can thrive in various media if they get what they need (moisture + nutrients)

You can solve compaction problem ( causing bad drainage ?) by mixing in pine bark nuggets (1/8"+ to 1/2"). Perlite is another option but it is more expensive.

Then, it should be realized that container planting of garden veggies (matoes, pepps, eggps. ) are just for short time. (mid May to late Sept = 4 to 5 months. To me it is not that critical if the soil gets slightly compacted toward the end of season.
So YMMV


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RE: compost - tomatoes

You know, I think there is a parallel between "micro-herds" and the microbiomes we are only beginning to understand. We barely know what is in our bodies, let alone our homes, let alone our large outdoor containers.

No one has sequenced the biome in an end of season tomato pot, but you know there is one. No matter how "isolated" the pot or how "sterile" the medium.

My instinct would be to think that compost is good for large pots for the same reason that yogurt is good for us - not because everything will survive, but because some will.


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RE: compost - tomatoes

Also for what it's worth, the tomatoes in the other picture, that grew from 6 to 40 inches in 35 days only got one teaspoon of 15-30-15 in that time. The rest of the nutrients came from the years-old aged soil and compost.


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RE: compost - tomatoes

Learned a lot here today, thanks all


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RE: compost - tomatoes

I think the key is what gardenerper said above - what is the composition of your compost? Not all compost is created equal, but ideally it has enough organic matter not to compact greatly when used in pots. I am way too cheap to buy expensive soilless mix to use in many large pots. I mix what leaf compost I have, with well rotted manure and throw in a shovel of my sandy garden dirt. I may or may not dig in a little slow-release fertilizer at potting time. While it may compact in the pot more than soilless mix, I have not had any trouble growing tomatoes. When you think about it, your garden soil gets pretty compacted as the season wears on, especially if you grow in clay. My pots are set on the ground, and I often find worms and worm tunnels in them when I dump the soil out.
The main problem is keeping them watered in hot weather. the soil will shrink away from the pot wall and your water may dribble down the sides and not get to the central area. To avoid this, be sure to run your fingers along the edge of the pot, jamming the soil back down into the crevice so the water has time to soak in more slowly. I give added mild liquid fertilizer as needed, depending on how the plant is doing, the size of the pot, and the production point in the season. Most of my growing is in the ground, but I usually have at least 20 plants in pots as well. If all you have are a few plants, then soilless mix is the best way to go. But it's not the only way.


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RE: compost - tomatoes

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 30, 14 at 14:07

Excellent points ddsack. Not all 'compost' is even close to being equal and that disparity can makes a big difference in if it works or not.

We also need to keep in mind that compost, even high quality compost, works very differently in different environments. Weather, humidity, amount of rain, ambient air temps, and not just the existence of an adequate soil food web mentioned above can all have a marked impact on how well it may or may not work.

And of course one can't not just assume equal levels of care of the plant container with the compost in it - consistent soil moisture levels rather than the extremes of dry/wet/dry/wet, sun exposure, size of container, experience and knowledge of the gardener, etc. can all impact its ability to work or not work.

Of course one can eliminate all these variables, all this disparity that cause problems for so many gardeners by simply using a well-balanced soil-less mix in containers to begin with. :)

If it has proven to work for a specific gardener in their location and conditions that's great. But we can't extrapolate from that instance that means it will work for all or even for most container growers. There is simply too much evidence to the contrary.

Dave

PS: and John most of that early green growth is N based readily available to the plant from the air not just the years-old aged soil and compost. Not to mention that even a tablespoon of 15-30-15 in a container is some highly powerful fertilizer. It is over 5x the commonly recommended dosage.


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RE: compost - tomatoes

A teaspoon (not tablespoon) per gallon is recommended on the box for house plants, every two weeks.

I figured that a teaspoon in a month was more conservative, for an outdoor plant in a 10 gallon pot.

You are right though that it had to help.


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RE: compost - tomatoes

It depends on what your compost is.


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RE: compost - tomatoes

My compost is made of grass , leaves, kitchen scrapes, shreadded tall grasses , old plants and lots veggy plants old tomatoes thats all I can think of right now.


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RE: compost - tomatoes

Quote"In gardens and raised beds that herd develops naturally and can thrive so compost works great. In containers, especially small containers like 5 gallon buckets, it doesn't exist. And even if one adds beneficial bacteria to the mix they cannot survive for long in the contained, rapidly heating, frequently flushed with water environment."Quote

The truth of the matter is if you grow in containers whether the aggregate is soilless or soil based Mycorrhiza fungi inoculation is a must especially if growing in 5 Gal Containers. Once the plant roots are colonized by the fungi and simbioses has started, watering the plant will not disturb the process of nutrient uptake and transfer to the plant by the fungi. Naturally ferts will have to applied to the plant periodically
due to the increased uptake of nutrients by the plant due to the fungus association and will lesson the affect caused by leaching.

As far as root zone temperature is concerned most folks know that the container should be of a color that reflects sunlight and not absorbs it. Here is a quote from a study done at Texas A&M on container grown plants under high production temperatures in 7.6 liter pots with an substrate of sand and bark.

"Considering the high average air and container root ball temperatures (average maximum container temperatures were 44.8 deg C =112.64 deg F), plant growth and colonization levels were exceptional. AMF (Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi) are known to enhance nursery crop resistance to high temperatures."

Growing tomatoes in 5 gal containers I would stick to a soilless aggregate. Drainage is important for the air exchange in the aggregate it creates.


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RE: compost - tomatoes

Wow, 113 is hot. And mycorrhizal "levels were exceptional?" Amazing.

Yesterday with ambient 94 my outdoor black nursery pots were about 85, cooled by evaporation no doubt. (The _surface_ of an exposed pot with just a chilli seedling varied, 97 in the damp part near the emitter and plant, and 134(!) out on the dry edge. (All temps from my roughly accurate Harbor Freight point and shoot thermometer.)

I had thought that at container temperatures we'd risk "extremophile" environments, but maybe it isn't that extreme after all.


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RE: compost - tomatoes

BTW, reading the original paper I see that they pasteurize and then inoculate. That's what you'd have to do of course, for a repeatable experiment.

Let's do a mental experiment though. Imagine that you bought a sterile medium, put it in a pot, set it outdoors and put it on an irrigation schedule. How long would it remain sterile?

I'd think that if you are like me, and live surrounded by coastal wetlands, it would not remain sterile for long, and would pick up all sorts of interesting fungi. (The same stuff I suck into my lungs when I go for a run!)

An alternative experiment might be to skip the sterile stage, and use some local dirt and compost, with of course additions to ensure proper drainage.


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RE: compost - tomatoes

Interesting:

"Atmospheric spores of ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi are a potential source of contamination when mycorrhizal studies are performed in the greenhouse, and techniques for minimizing such contamination have rarely been tested. We grew loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) from seed in a greenhouse and inside a high-efficiency particulate air-filtered chamber (HFC) constructed within the same greenhouse. Seedlings were germinated in seven different sand- or soil-based and artificially based growth media. Seedlings grown in the HFC had fewer mycorrhizal short roots than those grown in the open greenhouse atmosphere."

Basically, mycorrhizal fungi blow in.

Here is a link that might be useful: PubMed


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RE: compost - tomatoes

Sorry to keep going, but again related to the thread, Rhodale Institute talks about how to grow AM fungi for farm use:

"The on-farm system starts by planting “host plant” seedlings into black plastic bags filled with a mix of compost, vermiculite and local field soil. AM fungi present in the field soil colonize the root of the host plants and over the growing season, the mycorrhizae proliferate as the host plants grow. "

So basically, anyone who starts sterile and innoculates is really piggy-backign off someone who started with a soil-based mix.

Here is a link that might be useful: On-farm AM fungus inoculum production


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RE: compost - tomatoes

And I thought I was going to get a quick and easy answer.


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RE: compost - tomatoes

It's just as bad as politics.

;-)


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RE: compost - tomatoes

Or religion.


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RE: compost - tomatoes

And I thought I was going to get a quick and easy answer.

You did. :) What you accept is always your choice.

Dave

PS: John, in case you didn't know, all your posts can be combined into one. Just click on the edit button. No need for subsequent posts minutes apart. There used to be a lock on the system that wouldn't let you do that but when they added the edit button they removed the block.


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