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General discussion regarding the techniques and methods used to successfully grow tomato plants in containers.

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Old June 26, 2021   #1
paradajky
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Default double-bucket swc recovery?

Hi:

How long does it take for the tomato to recover following a transplant into double-bucket style self watering container (e.g. global bucket) ? Maybe I'm just jumpy and overly cautious due to the failure of our tomatoes in the ground garden, the tomatoes one week after transplant don't look as I would expect them to.

Here's the story:
Last weekend, we assembled a number of double buckets, with the following 1:1:1 mixture: peat moss, gardener's orchid seedling bark, and #2 perlite. Net pots packed with soggy peat moss. Buckets filled about 1/3 of the way with moist mix, then mixed in 1 cup of espoma dolomite lime into remaining mix, and filled most of the bucket. Put a 1.5 cup ring of espoma tomato tone, then covered the rest. Dug a little hole, mixed Mykos into the hole and transplant roots, put the tomato plant into the hole, covered 1-3" bark chips, and watered with a seedling dilution of the 3-3-5 agrothrive product.

The mix is still very wet and reservoirs haven't gone down much. Tomatoes leaves are v-shaped, purple veins, and the color is not a lush green but rather very dark green. The coloring in pictures look a little better than in real life, sorry about that.

I hope this is normal. If not, anything I should do? Will they begin looking more normal with another week or two? I plan to give another drench of agrothrive next weekend, then stop with the fertilization and let the stuff do its own thing.


PS: this soil mix feels like it has way too much perlite
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Old June 26, 2021   #2
rnewste
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I think you are using too much Perlite (1:1:1) for self-wicking, and would re-plant at this early stage.

I have experimented with many different mixes and ratios in SWC applications, and the one that works best for me is a 3:2:1 ratio of Pro-mix, Bark chips, and Perlite in that order.

Raybo
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Old June 26, 2021   #3
paradajky
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Thank you, Raybo. The mix was based off yours. I couldn't find promix nearby so I "made my own", and according to what I've read, it is ~70% peat and ~30% perlite. Wouldn't the math make the 3-2-1 mix approximately a 1-1-1 then? Also, while researching various "quick" container solutions, I came across some other websites which use a bed of perlite (also lava rock or hydroton), and sit grow backs on top, and water wicks up through it all fine.

If I do take the recommendation and redo the mix, what happens to the fertilizer ring? That's going to get mixed up into the whole soil, is that okay?

Right now, the mix in the container is still very wet. I'm concerned about the tomatoes
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Old June 26, 2021   #4
rnewste
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Let me offer a different measure. 3 cups Pro-mix, 2 cups Bark Fines, 1 cup Perlite ratio. Even though Pro-mix contains some Perlite (I don't recall it being anywhere near 30%), the above ratio should work fine in a Global Bucket design, in my opinion.

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Old June 26, 2021   #5
paradajky
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Right, that's the same thing, you just changed bark chips to bark fines
I appreciate the help though.
That said, what happens to the ring of fertilizer if I redo the mix now? It's going to get fully distributed in the mix, won't that be too much for the plant? The whole idea of the trench in the earthbox/earthtainer was to let the nutrients I guess seep through the mix over time based on what I read.

And, the original question, are the tomatoes going to be okay, they don't look good to me.
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Old June 26, 2021   #6
paradajky
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I keep thinking about the soil part, even though my primary question is still about the tomatoes.
There are two options: leave it alone, or redo the soil.

If I leave it alone, either the wicking will work, or it won't. If it doesn't, all I have to do is hand water, which isn't too bad as long as the tomatoes are going to be okay.
If I redo the soil mix, I will end up doubling the overall soil. Did not mention we made 26 double buckets. Which means will have 26 double buckets of soil left over (or 13 if we don't mix all of it). What am I supposed to do with all that.
Stupid internet. If you search "home made promix" or "DIY promix", majority of results have 70-80% peat moss, and 20-30% perlite. I've never seen the stuff so I just go with it and ugh here I am.
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Old June 26, 2021   #7
zipcode
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The result of very poor root development. I don't think at this stage the mix is to blame, although it is a bit low in 'active' material. One week is too little, especially since you went with only organic fertilizers (is agrothrive actually organic? why does it contain potassium sulfate?). Wait for the roots to start growing and reach that ring.
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Old June 26, 2021   #8
paradajky
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Would it make sense to temporarily supplement weekly top watering with a hydroponic liquid fertilizer like dynagro brand for a few weeks while the roots develop more?
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Old June 27, 2021   #9
zipcode
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You could give them a bit of very diluted stuff.
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Old June 27, 2021   #10
paradajky
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Understood.

I'm not sure what to do at this point. Give up? Treat the buckets like regular pots and just try feeding with non-organic liquid fertilizers for now? Make new mix from scratch and throw out the old stuff? Try to reuse current mix but still unsure what happens with fertilizer and mix?

26 buckets took 1.25 bags of peat moss, 4 bags of bark, 1.5 bags of perlite, 2 bags each of dolomite and fertilizer. That's about $100-120 of raw product, plus my time of 3-4 hours.

Advise? Would be nice to have one success this season, nothing but failure so far.
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Old July 1, 2021   #11
paradajky
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Following the last post on Sunday, I watered DG foliagepro that I had on hand to all the buckets. Nearly all the tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash picked up and seem to be on course for healthy growing with flowers, good coloring and size. Might do a second watering with it this weekend, tbd.

I hesitated taking Raybo's advice to redo mixture for wicking, due to limited time to commit last weekend, however, I may have some time this weekend. Therefore, three questions:
1. Now two weeks after transplant, lots of flowers and growth, would removing them and replanting them set them back too much? The bucketted plants include tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers.

2. Is there a quick test to see if wicking works with this soil mixture outside the in-use buckets? It's unclear in-vivo, the soil mix has remained wet without much reduction in the reservoirs. We've had cool, overcast weather as well.

3. I found a couple places that sell Promix, but they are out of stock and expecting delivery end of august, so, how about 3:2:1 peat moss, bark, perlite if I decide to redo/update the mix? or a little more perlite, like 1.25 or 1.5?


Bonus #4: what if instead of replacing the soil I thread 2-3 strings or 1-2" wide torn synthetic cloths through the mix down into the reservoir? Those would certainly wick, and I'm not disturbing the soil much right now?


Thank you!
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Old July 5, 2021   #12
paradajky
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This weekend I had planned to add cloth wicks to some and redo the potting soil for others, as an experiment since there are some duplicates in the mix due to purchase of six-pack transplants.

Ended up leaving everything alone at this point. Roots had grown through the drainage holes of the inner bucket into the reservoir, despite 1-2" air space. Didn't want to risk disturbing the roots and the plants all recovered and look super healthy, so I did not redo the potting soil. As far as the cloth wicks, I couldn't get them into the soil (attempted to jam them through the bottom drainage holes, goal about 2/3 up into the soil).

Oh well! Now comes the part where we wait (some fruit already begun to set!). Ugh
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Old July 15, 2021   #13
Hulamom
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Default Tomato plant problems

I’ve been using Raybo’s 321 mix for many years, since I joined Tomatoville but this season my tomato leaves started growing weird. Has anyone see this growth? I haven’t changed my mixture or the swc process. I’ve grown my own seedlings of reg and dwarf plants. Any advice or information on what this is will be so helpful. I’ve washed my buckets, pipes and cages with bleach each season before starting each new season but this season I’m stumped! Any help would be much appreciated!
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Old July 16, 2021   #14
zipcode
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Is it only this plant or all? If all, then it must be some sort of nutrition problem, but doesn't resemble anything I know of.
If not, a virus of sorts, which would be quite bad.
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Old July 20, 2021   #15
paradajky
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Zipcode, looks like she found her answer here: http://www.tomatoville.com/showthread.php?t=51180

This past weekend was the one month mark, and, it appears to be working - the tomatoes are healthy (so many aphids though), lots of fruit set, but probably another 30-45 days from first harvest. I'm manually adding water every other day into the tube, and I had to surround the bucket bases with tape/tanglefoot to keep the ants out. Meantime, we've already picked our first squash and cucumbers.. I did not realize they grow so fast, 16" squash after 32 days from 1" transplant seedlings?! They taste fantastic, too. This is great, I'm now much more positive about tomatoes after so much failure!
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