Dried Out Container Garden...


Hi,
I have a rooftop container garden with a southwest exposure that keep drying out, and I am tired of having to constantly water it. What can I do to keep the moisture levels up, (and my time investment down)?
I am using mainly plastic containers, ( i.e. troughs, window boxes, and pots), and a few terra cotta containers of different shapes and sizes.
My basil is doing well, (but from what I understand it is a tough plant and it can take it). I have tried Greek basil this year and enjoyed them more for the esthetics that the taste. They were a nice green earlier in the summer, but have now gotten really lame. I think this is partly caused by the containers I used and partly due to my lack of knowledge about them.
The tomatoes ALWAYS have shrivelled leaves by August not matter what I try. My attempts at other types of plants have had mixed results. For example, two out of the three rosemary plants have dried out, but all three are in the same pot.
This year I cut back on the number of tomatoe plants and have stayed mainly with cherry tomatoe varieties. I find they produce the most fruit and the squirrls won't be doing as much damage by staling a few of them. I don't want to nurse a nice beefstake for several months only to have the little rodents rob me of my rewards.
My best producers have been the cucumbers. This year I tried several types including: Lebanese, English, Straight 8, and pickling. All of them have done well.
If anyone has suggestions-or links-as to a solution to my situation, I am will to listen
Thanks,
E. Graeme Smith -- Never argue with idiots, they only drag you down to their level then beat you with experience :)
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make holes so that there is no standing water. Only time I miss a day is when there is heavy rain. Frank
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You could investigate a drip system, if you have a hose attachment up there. And, based on your descriptions of symptoms, especially the tomatoes, I'll guess that your containers are all too small. Whatever size you think is right, triple it next year. And, find ways to shade the pots themselves. Not many plants want their roots as hot as the air temperature above.
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E. Graeme Smith wrote:

A friend of mine has been growing a container garden for the last few years. This year, she switched mostly to self-watering planters like these: http://www.naturalspring.com/natsprinplan.html
She still has to water regularly, but she thinks the reservoirs helped a lot.
-- Jennifer
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Graeme Smith) wrote:

If you built a loosely structured pergola it would provide a little bit of shade for plants that cannot tolerate more than six hours sunlight, plus you could puthanging baskets inside the pergola increasing the amount of space that can be planted. Building wood climbing pyramids for the tomatos out of wide slats would permit the tomatoe vines to self-select how much they want to be in the sun. Mulching the containers will hold moisture in a bit longer. Drip systems that run water to each individual pot or container will deliver water more slowly over time instead of all at once, & starter kit is not at all expensive. They can take a lot of fussing to keep running well but a rooftop garden wouldn't be hard to keep them in top performance without too much tinkering. The drips can even be run from timers so you can leave town for a few days without returning to dried out plants.
-paghat the ratgirl
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Try lining your terra cotta pots with plastic. Then there is mulching on top. You might also try those water bead thing that are mixed into the soil. They're available at garden centres or if you're hard pressed, tear them out of cheap diapers. You can also increase the size of pot used.
Then there is the surfacing on your roof. IMHO heat is being retained by the roof surface, and it is 'ovening' your plants. It is like everything in your garden was planted beside a wall. So you can look at ways to cover the roof/floor to reduce heat retention, either with wood walkways, fiber matting or carpet, or whatever. Or painting it white might help. Dora
E. Graeme Smith wrote:

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