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Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

Posted by railroader 6 (My Page) on
Sun, Aug 3, 14 at 17:14

I have had a garden of sorts for several years, and I think my garden has tomato disease problems, and also my being 70 years old, thought I would try container gardening.
I plan to use white food safe 5 gallon buckets to start, and Miracle-Gro Flower and Vegetable Garden Soil. Any suggestions on how to prepare the bucket, including but not limited to, as to where to put the holes, size and how many, is invited. Thanks


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

If you're transplanting a smaller tomato plant into the bucket, make sure and break the rootball just before putting it in the bucket to help "free the roots." A transplant solution to prevent transplant shock isn't necessary, but probably wouldn't hurt. I've always been told it's best to transplant in early evening after the sun has gone down.

Miracle-Gro is good, but I suggest that after about a month that you also use liquid plant food/fertilizer once a week. Miracle-Gro will fertilize plants for a while, but when they're in containers the nutrients drain out quicker. If you have left over potting soil, you could add that to the plant every few weeks and it helps fertilize as well.

One thing I've found is that tomatoes turn out smaller if grown in containers, possibly due to a limited root system. So I don't recommend cherry tomatoes in containers because they'll turn out mega-tiny. I've grown beef steak tomatoes in pots and they turn out a little bigger than cherry tomatoes, but they're still very tasty.

I'm not an expert on drilling, but if you're using a small drill, I'd say put about a dozen holes in the bottom in various places. Spread them out. Maybe someone else on here has some more wisdom that issue. When I've container gardened, I usually buy the containers with holes already in them.

Good luck to you.


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RE: Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

Miracle-Gro Flower and Vegetable Garden Soil

No to that. Numerous reports of problems and it says right on the bag "Not for Use in Containers". Use Potting mix, not potting soil in containers for proper drainage. Miracle Grow make a container potting mix.

You don't need to pay extra for 'food safe' plastics unless you feel you must. Many folks grow plants in everyday plastic flower pots and buckets like those from Walmart, Lowe's and Home Depot. Using 5 gallon buckets rather than larger containers is a whole other issue but assuming you accept their limitations that that choice is yours.

I'd suggest some time spent reading over on the Container gardening forum here. Lots of good info on the best mixes to use, the best containers and sizes (if at all possible go bigger), best varieties for containers, wicking, how to fertilize, how to use drip irrigation, etc.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Container Gardening


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RE: Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

well, I have several larger containers, they are used mineral tubs farmers use for cattle, I bored holes about 4 or 5 inches off the bottom and filled them with cow manure, but for some reason, that was not successful, I had hoped the water would wick up, but it did not, I think a different mixture is needed.


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RE: Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

Agree with Dave on soil and bucket grade. I wouldn't spend extra money on food grade. You need food grade when, like, you pickle, store food item, brew beer, wine etc.A $2.75 Lowes 5 gallon bucket is good enough for bush and determinant varieties. For indets consider bigger container for more root space, productivity and stability. Bigger container has also advantages in hot climates.


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RE: Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

I use any 5 gallon bucket I can find. No need to buy.

I use potting mix with drain holes in the bottom.

I have to water twice a day.

I support determinate tomatoes with cages and indterm. with poles in the ground next to bucket.

I fertilize twice a week with half strenth MG for tomatoes.

I also use my fish tank water if my lemon tree is not thirsty. Better on my tomatoes than on my yard or down the drain.I live in SE Texas and it is hot and humid.


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RE: Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

Scott,
I think growing in 5G bucket is fine for someone with experience to know HOW/WHEN/HOW MUCH fertilize and water. Plants needs (1) moisture (2) nutrient. If you provide those regularly that should be ok. In a bigger soil volume it is much simpler to do that and there is room for negligence.

I am growing both in raised beds and containers. With containers I have to water and fertilize 3 times as often, because I am using smaller containers ( ~ 5g +/-).
So it is a big challenge for a newbie to start growing in container because it is more demanding than growing in ground.


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RE: Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

I may have to try getting some super disease resistant variety's and see if that helps next season.


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RE: Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

Many folks mix composted steer manure with a potting mix and use that for container growing. I think straight manure would be far too heavy. I grow in Earth Box containers which depend on wicking. The planting medium used is 60-70% Sphagnum Peat Moss.


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RE: Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

I may have to try getting some super disease resistant variety's and see if that helps next season.

That would be great for all of us. Unfortunately no such variety exists. :)

well, I have several larger containers, they are used mineral tubs farmers use for cattle, I bored holes about 4 or 5 inches off the bottom and filled them with cow manure, but for some reason, that was not successful, I had hoped the water would wick up, but it did not, I think a different mixture is needed.

Those mineral tubs work great. I use them too. But drill some holes on the flat bottom rather than 4-5" off the bottom for better drainage and wicking and then set them in some sort of shallow trough you can fill with water. But most importantly, for good drainage and wicking a better soil-less mix is needed. Any of the quality soil-less mixes will work and you can mix some composted manure in with it. But you will still have to feed on a regular basis.

Dave


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RE: Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

Going to try some of these next season.
Big Beef (Super Disease Resistant) (Indeterminate)
Celebrity (Super Disease Resistant)(Determinate)
Goliath (Super Disease Resistant)(Indeterminate)
Park's Whopper Improved Tomato (Super Disease Resistant)(Indeterminate)
Defiant Tomato (Super Disease Resistant) (Determinate)


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RE: Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

Yeah. Bigger containers have advantages but they carry a high initial cost and use a lot more potting mix which also is costly. For example, a Lowes 5g bucket cost $3 and you use say $5 on potting mix. total cost = $8. Now you buy a big bin ( 15 gallon ?) , pay $8 for it and spend $15 on potting mix, total cost = $23. That is 3 times as much. But then you don't have to water everyday, twice a day. Twice a week will do. So there are the issues of economy and convenience.


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RE: Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

My costs

$ 0 5 gallon bucket
$ 12 potting mix /good for 4 buckets

that is $3/bucket + tomatoes

5 gallon buckets are more available and are easier to move. I do not leave me containers in the same place and like to rotate (spin) to have strong plants. I do not think that adding manure to potting mix is a good idea for containers.


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RE: Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

On the subject of food-safe plastics, railroader, *I disagree with those who have dismissed the concern* as "unnecessary" basically out of their own habits which do not necessarily consider yours. It is quite a complicated question light-years beyond the scope of a forum to answer ( the container gardening or hydroponics forums as well) - specific to the batch of plastic you get - by chance for that cheap Asian orange or Cobalt Blue bucket you have.

Many people I know as they get older find a sense of security in spending an extra few bucks for containers suitable for food contact. Once of the benefits we get from growing out own food is to set our own standards for quality control. It can be well worth paying a few bucks for the pride that comes with that.

I generally pick food contact containers myself and am a little careful about materials that degrade in Sunlight which is based on a quality standard I set for myself … and not science. While most of the issues in the media are misinterpreted and overblown, it is a fallacy to think all the crying wolf means that they are safe. For example your plastic cheap Home Depot buckets may be made one day in a Chinese factory with recycled materials from their sewage treatment plant. Food grade generally avoids any recycled content. Unfortunately it has become a political issue since a lot of produce is grown without much attention to this, both at home and for the grocers.

Striving to make a system from food contact grade plastics is not a complete waste, especially if you grown in a climate where containers get heated up and degrade. That said, just keep a common sense approach. For example, the moment you put Miracle Gro in your food- contact grade plastic, it is no longer food-contact approved, since Miracle Gro is not approved for consumption. Sounds crazy until you get down to fundamentals in that 'food contact grade' is simply a specification that excludes known materials of construction containing higher levels of contaminants such as lead, unknown sourced recycled plastics, and prior chemical contact with materials that the plastics absorb and later become leached out, especially in warm weather.

Do not fall for the fear mongering contingent but don't dismiss the benefit of using higher grade materials either. They are your veggies to produce as you feel happiest. Plants are good filters in general but they don’t come with a guarantee of 100% efficiency for synthetic material and its byproducts of degradation and metabolism-filtration either. Personally, I would rather eat a tomato grown in a responsible way from an orange bucket than have no tomato at all since my inclination is that the benefit of fruits and veggies generally offsets these issues. I believe that is the inclination you would hear from leading researchers in health profession and their concern for public health and nutrition. They never address the political hot potato of “food-grade” vs. “not food-grade”, nor has an public interest group done a huge study either, since when we buy food-grade buckets and put dirt, plants and fertilizers, weather and Sun we are not using them in an application that the food contact grade applied to in the first place.

I hope this helps, but it probably will confuse. The bottom line is you can make a better specification for your home systems and for some people the additional insurance is well worth it and one of the things you can do better than the unknown stuff you’d otherwise buy in the grocery store.


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RE: Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

I appreciate all the Ideas and suggestions, it is the reason this reflector exists, I will review these and future posts, Thanks again.


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RE: Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

I understand the concerns about using non-food grade plastics to store food in. However when growing tomato plants in plastic pots or buckets no food ever comes in contact with the bucket. So why would food grade plastic be required for any reason?

We grow in dirt full of worms and grubs and numerous bacteria, in potting mix made from decomposing peat bogs, in decomposing food compost and composed manures, some use synthetic fertilizers, some water with pond water or fish tank water, etc. Growing in a non-food grade plastic is a greater risk than all of that?

Dave


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RE: Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

My concern would be chemicals leaching into the soil/potting mix. Leaching is why I use porcelain people dishes for my pets' food and water bowls. I don't know, really, if there's any benefit but it makes me feel better. I never use MG, I use Edna's Best plant foods. At any rate, have a great container garden !


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RE: Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

Dave, first I just want to say I love your posts and have learned a great deal second hand from many of your answers to questions in this forum, some of which I've put into practice.

Organic toxins and the microorganisms that produce them are not at issue generally and I don't disagree with your thought there. I just make sure I eat clean and sanitary vegetables.

When dealing with metals, inorganic chemical compounds and polymers and additionally some derivatives of fossil fuels that is a rather different ball of wax and are not diseases of the immune system as you are focused.

Often very low concentrations of inorganic toxins can cause poisonings of various types and some accumulate.

The premise that we use some inorganic salts in fertilizers automatically means anything inorganic is ok is faulty logic. Fertilizers also have grades ... for example in some applications people acidify their growing medium with sulfuric acid. Sulfuric acid is actually a plant nutrient, though it is an inorganic compound.

Now, let's take that a step further. Suppose I want to acidify my soil and buy some food grade sulfuric acid. There is no problem. By the same token, what would you say if I emptied my old trucks battery into the soil "in a pinch" since I had no sulfuric acid on hand? This is an extreme example but illustrates a potentially deadly cocktail of heavy metals which are the byproduct of an industrial process.

You shouldn't think of plastics like glass. Plastics are more like soups that are mixed up in a factory with a recipe only the maker knows for sure. When formed into their solid shapes they can and do absorb heavy metals and smaller inorganic chemicals. Buckets that are cheap are usually made with a percent of recycled materials. Food contact grade does not permit that - all is usually virgin, pure raw material in combination with additives if necessary, that give the plastic resin workable properties.

Answering a question authoritatively to prove there is something wrong with a resin is usually impossible since the manufacturer isn't going to tell you they ground up old car battery plastic cases in the molding or extrusion of the plastic. If it is not made for food applications may be perfectly acceptable. Answering it authoritatively that it is safe however is worse, because it is based on anecdotal habits.

That's why I said it comes down to personal preferences. Lead wasn't removed from paint until it started peeling off and getting into babies' food. Luckily tomatoes do well on filtering lead or there would be a lot more of it in tomato lovers’ bodies and it impairs and disrupts the development and maintenance of your nervous system. That’s just lead.

The problem of course with all the epidemiological long term risks is that who is going to study the breakdown effect under every possible condition of Home Depot buckets, and don't kid yourself, but HD has no idea what their buckets are made from because most are contracted out to the highest bidder who is offshore and possibly not very concerned about what recycled material he gets and who from to make the buckets. When faced with complicated problems a natural reaction is just to ignore them and hope all is fine ��" the bucket looks new and shiny to you, right? Regulatory agencies only regulate what they are programmed to regulate. If no one has looked for it, it may just add a small boost to the incidence of cancers - for example. Also if one bucket costs $2.50 with recycled content and the other costs $3.50 and is all virgin with fewer and safer additives to meet food grade, to a casual gardener $1 may be a small insurance worth the peace of mind. On the other hand if someone has 10,000 plants to sell, that's $10,000 off the bottom line and is not a viable business decision.

The plant physiology and metabolism part, like gardening varies depending on what people do, and is a huge and active field in research, but plants can uptake or metabolide producing some human toxins and appear healthy. My concerns really are not much when it comes to pots from a nursery, but I feel they really should be considered when selecting materials for irrigation barrels, recirculating systems, hydroponic reservoirs, and … container gardens … and some pots ... where the potential is to bake the plastic resin in the Sun and especially when continuously recycling nutrients such as a self-watering container, that doesn’t have frequent purging of some sort.

Hands on DIYers love a bargain, and that's what recycled content plastics are. But as people age and see 1/6 of their friends dying of cancer, sometimes it is easier just to spend the $1 and feel the pride that comes with a higher-spec'ed system. Like having a glass blender cup instead of some cheaper plastic one that eventually begins to degrade ;-) I know folks who buy Bonnie Plants for $6 each, only to use cheap plastic. Meanwhile I have food contact grade buckets, pure PE, I got from a company that filled them with strawberry puree for bakeries I use @ $1 each. I would grow a tomato in a $0.25 polyethylene zebra bag before I would use a home depot bucket ;-)


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RE: Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

Deeby,
Chemical leacing from a bucket (if there is any) is no more than chemicals leacing from any PVC pipe and garden hose. Plus the plants won't take up everything that is in soil, comes with water, your gardening tools. Even if they did, next to nothing will end up in the fruits.
JMO


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RE: Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

Message Deleted

This post was edited by railroader on Mon, Aug 4, 14 at 21:46


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RE: Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

my buckets say "soy sauce"

Does that mean they are Chinese?


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RE: Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

Yes.


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Off Topic

Is there a way on this reflector to change the sort order of the follow up's? I have not found it.


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RE: Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

I have never heard our discussions called a reflector before, but I think that is what you mean. Forum is probably the most common name for what we have here. I don't think you can change the order which the various posts or comments appear.


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RE: Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

my buckets say "soy sauce"

Does that mean they are Chinese?
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

That means that they have been marinated. hehe


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RE: Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

"Reflector" is a term for posting used by electronic mailing list forums, when one posts by sending an email to a single email which is the forum reflector email address which "reflects" it back to the emails of all the members.

On GW'sthere is a feature called clipping. If there are posts you want to remember you can clip them and they appear on a separate page called "my clippings" which get saved to a page of memorable highlights you can refer to and designate each clipping as private or public.


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RE: Newbbe Growing Tomatoes in Containers

FYI: Reflector is a term that is used in the Amateur Radio when talking about forums. My wife and I are Amateur Radio Operators. Have a good day


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