I had an extra seedling this year that looked pretty healthy, so I put
some stones in a pot (it is a big pot and I didn't have enough spare
dirt to fill it, so I put eight or ten inches of dirt on top of the
stones and transplanted the seedling to the dirt.
The problem is that the water runs through the dirt and stones and out
the hole in the bottom of the pot, so every day the plant, while it has
been growing well, loses the structure of the leaves (it almost looks
dead) until I water it, when it regains its vitality and looks healthy
until the next day. And the early maturing tomatoes have rather
advanced end stage rot.
So I am looking for a way to solve the watering problem for next year.
I am thinking of removing the stones and filling the whole pot with good
dirt, and burying a bowl at the bottom of the pot, reasoning that when I
water, some water will filter into the bowl and keep the plant happy.
I've been told that standing water in the bottom of the pot is not a
good idea, but I grow my seedlings in dirt over a tray of water, and
they grow extensive roots in the water.
We are in a moderate climate, subject to freezing. The last vortex was
brutal here, killing many plants and trees (all the peach trees, for
example, were killed). But our garden seems to have survived. I had an
arborist look at my sweet cherry tree; I wanted it pruned, but he
recommended cutting it down. I pruned it myself (it is no longer a
pretty tree) and it survived. providing a bumper crop. Our pie cherries
also produced well, as did the strawberries and blueberries. The
vegetables have struggled, possibly because we had a lot of rain, so we
don't have ripe tomatoes yet, but plenty of beans, and the corn is
within days of being ready.
DO NOT block water from draining out of the pot. The soil will get too
soggy, and the plant will die.
Blend your own potting mix per my do-it-yourself recipe at
<http://www.rossde.com/garden/garden_potting_mix.html . This mix will
drain well but also remain moist. Some commercial potting mixes seem to
"lock up" moisture as they start to dry; my recipe gives a mix that
makes its moisture available to plant roots until it is almost dust-dry.
For tomatoes, use only 2/3 of the indicated amount of blood meal;
nitrogen promotes growth at the expense of flowering and fruiting. Add
a little extra bone meal; phosphorus promotes flowering and fruiting.
Rain? What is rain?
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
On Thursday, September 10, 2015 at 7:53:55 AM UTC-7, Not@home wrote:
Honestly don't see the problem. Put a big saucer under the pot so the runoff from your watering method will be saved.
Your idea of removing the stones and replacing with "good dirt" is a winner. Follow up with a big capacity saucer underneath and you should be home free.
Deer and shade have forced me to planting my tomatoes in pots.
Have to water frequently but while pots drain, there is a catch
container underneath and as long as there is water in it, I figure it
can wick to roots.
Also sounds like you have blossom end rot caused by lack of calcium.
Every year I mix a handful of limestone with dirt in the pot.
I grow just about all my veggies in tubs.
You need good size ones, such as folks use to plant patio evergreens.
Decide carefully where you want it to be, as they are quite heavy to
move around after they are filled.
Make sure there are drainage holes (some tubs some with them merely
indicated in the plastic and need to be drilled out) and layer the
bottom of the pot with stones or broken crockery to provide drainage.
You can use garden soil if yours is in decent shape, or create a mix,
or buy a bag or two from a big box store. Use common sense, tweak it a
bit with some compost or other decent organics.
Insofar as preventing blossom end rot - well, that can certainly be
calcium deficiency, or it can be the variety of tomato you are
growing, also. All my tubs have the same soil mix. I had a hard time
with a couple of new-to-me heirlooms this year that got blossom rot.
None of the other pots suffered, so I tend to believe some varieties
are more susceptible. Live and learn.
Tubs will do nothing to protect plants from foraging deer unless
fenced, in fact raised plants make browsing more comfortable for
deer... you obviously have no deer.
There are planter dollies available at low cost or it's easy to make
Plastic tubs don't permit air to reach roots, use unglazed pottery or
wooden containers. It's very easy to build ones own wooden tubs
(cubic or rectangular) and attach casters/wheels at each corner I
much prefer wooden planters, large plastic and pottery tends to crack,
not only from the weight of wet soil but more from the pressure
exerted be expanding roots. When constructing wooden planters leave a
gap between boards to allow for expansion and for air to reach roots.
Cedar privacy fencing lumber makes great planters, is reasonably
priced, and won't rot for many years.
Do not place plants close to a wall that receives direct sun or the
plants will cook.
Improve water retention while still promoting good drainage with
appropriate soil amendments. Coir fiber is great. Vermiculite and
perlite are helpful and not prohibitively expensive if bought in bulk.
Aged manure and/or organic composts in the proper amounts are nice.
Also, always apply a heavy layer of non-nutritive organic mulch atop
the soil to reduce evaporative loss and prevent roots overheating, and
avoid using dark-colored pots.
Drat. I should have read all of the thread before posting my response.
It seems you and I have given advice that is almost the same.
I love coir and would join a fan club to promote and support it's use.
I even use it in my garden beds to lighten up very heavy soil when I
don't have enough well rotted cow poo.
Wow. Why didn't you use broken up polystyrene boxes rather than rocks?
Moving posts with rocks in the bottom must be interesting.
But to your question... You use the word "dirt", not "soil" which I
find odd so am wondering what it is you have used.
8 or 10 inches of soil in the top of a big pot doesn't sound like enough
soil TMWOT. I'd be using a greater depth than that and I'd use either a
good quality potting mix to which I'd added seed raising mix (it fills
in thelarge gaps in the 'good quality' potting mix that is for sale
here. To that I'd add also coir and some well rotted bulky animal
manure (horse/cow/elephant) and/or leaf mould or use home made compost
with the addition of those other ingredients. I'd also put mulch on the
top of the pot and try to put the pot where it got shade in the
afternoon so the roots didnt'cook in the afternoon heat. I wouldn't let
it sit in water but try to make sure the mix the plant grew in was water
retentive but not evaporating and/or baking.
I'd say that if you have the time to water twice a day and tend the plants
in ordinary pots of any sort, more power to you. If, on the other hand, you
just want to grow tomatoes in a container that doesn't tie you down so much
you need to either buy something like an 'Earth Box' or simply make your
own. I do the latter. A planter made from a 5-gallon plastic bucket and a
few bits of PVC pipe and sheet plastic can be made in an hour or so if you
are handy and have tools available. It holds enough planting mix to
actually grow a determinant tomato plant such as 'Patio' and it largely
self-waters so that it needs attention only every few days. I put the
divider in mine between 1/4 and 1/3 up from the bottom; higher gives more
water capacity and lower gives more room for roots.
Definitely stick with a determinant variety since trying to support an
indeterminant in a container is nearly impossible to do well.
BTW: I don't use the exact method shown in the link. Mine uses a single
bucket with a solid plastic divider to separate the soil from the water
chamber but the theory is the same no matter how you do it. Mine is just
cheaper and lighter but I have a full shop to fabricate the plastic bits in
and many folks don't.
I've been there and done that too and I get tomatoes every year from my
containers with very little effort expended. The OP's original complaint
was that water was simply running through the pot and that would probably
mean frequent watering if soil moisture is to be maintained.
Much depends on the size of the pot and the charateristics of the
potting mix. I have dwarf citrus in 22-inch pots that get watered twice
each week. I get more lemons than anyone could use, and I do not know
what to do with all the kumquats. They are planted in home-made potting
mix that I cited earlier in this thread.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
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