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

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Old December 11, 2014   #1
aclum
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Default watering indoor container

Hi,

This is my first attempt at indoor container gardening and I have a couple of questions about watering.

I'm growing some picolino cucumbers indoors under lights in a 14 gal Rubbermaid bin filled with Wonder Soil.

(For a bit more info on Wonder Soil, see the thread I started on the subject here: http://www.tomatoville.com/showthread.php?t=34148).

The Wonder Soil is a coir based planting mix that contains a number of ingredients/nutrients including earthworm casings, compost, kelp meal, minerals, mycos, humic acid, and moisture retaining granules. It's advertised as fertilizing the plants for something like up to 4 months.

The Rubbermaid bin has a drain spigot placed on the side about 2" up from the bottom and when I've overwatered, the excess water drains out through the spigot. The drain water from my first "major" watering since plant-out was sort of the color of weak coffee. I'm assuming that some of the nutrients in the soil mix were flushed out into the drain water, so I'm planning to use it to water the plants with the next time they need watering. Is this the right thing to do or might it cause some problems down the road (reusing available drain water)??

Right now I have about 1-1/2 quarts of the saved drain water sitting on the kitchen counter in a milk jug and I'm somewhat tempted to "tamper" with it in some way before using it to water the plants with again. I'm thinking maybe aeration and/or adding a bit of molasses. Is this a good idea or just asking for trouble? I've never done compost tea before so I'm pretty clueless.

Any advice appreciated!
Thanks,
Anne
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Old December 23, 2014   #2
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Hi,

FWIW, I went ahead a reused the drain water without any "alterations" with no problems.

Now, I've got another question. My cucumbers seem to be doing great (see the Wonder Soil thread referenced above), but I'm seeing a good number of roots (or rootlets) growing just beneath the soil surface that are exposed when gently watering or sometimes just break the soil surface on their own. Being new to container gardening, I haven't seen this before and wonder what it means, if anything.

Is this normal - or do I have something going on that should be corrected?

Thanks,
Anne
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Old December 23, 2014   #3
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Anne,

My concern is that your potting mix may be getting too much moisture. Is all of it sitting in 2" of water at the bottom, or is the mix suapended on a "bench" of some sort - like in an EarthBox?

Raybo
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Old December 23, 2014   #4
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Hi Raybo,

Thanks for responding!

No, no gravel on the bottom of the bin. The whole bin is filled with the wonder soil. The soil seems to drain well and doesn't seem overly moist at the top even though I just watered yesterday. Are surface rootlets indicative of overwatering? I'll let things dry out more before doing my next watering and see if that makes any difference.

Anne
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Old December 23, 2014   #5
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Anne,

I think you will find the mix will wick up a good deal of moisture which is why the EarthBox design only has about 6 square inches of mix touching water in the reservoir, with most of the mix sitting up on the aeration bench.

Just keep watch on the mix down about 6 to 8 inches deep - I think you will find that zone to be quite wet. Tomatoes really don't need a lot of moisture in a container.

Raybo
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Old December 23, 2014   #6
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Hi again Raybo,

Thanks for the good advice! I don't know if it makes any difference, but I'm growing cucumbers in the container rather than tomatoes. I know you grow both in containers so I assume he same rules apply. Anyway, I'll keep an eye on the watering.

Thanks again,
Anne
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Old December 28, 2014   #7
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Hi Anne,
I usually have some cukes in pots or grow bags along one of my old horse fence lines for support. I find that there are indeed surface roots that get uncovered as the plant matures. In my case, I suspect this is a result of my vigorous top watering with buckets or hose. But it happens so gradually that the exposed roots appear to harden off and there are plenty of underground roots left. I don't think it harms my production much. When I have time, I may cover them up again with some fresh soil, or try to find some grass clipping to use as a mulch.
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Old December 29, 2014   #8
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Hi Dee,

Thanks for the info. It's very reassuring !

I think Raybo was right about the overwatering as well (aside from the exposed root issue). The plants seem to be growing fine but looking bit pale with some possibly fungus affected leaves. So I am laying off the watering for a while and gave the plants a mild neem treatment today (I want to say "to be on the safe side" but the idea of "tempting fate" is also at the back of my mind as an alternative ).

Anne
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Old December 29, 2014   #9
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Default Wonder Soil Drainage

When I first started my container planting regimen I was overcompensating watering.What I did was to let the plants dry out/droop so as to get the timing down on watering.As the plants got larger you can almost time the watering.The beans(Gigandes,Chinese Long beans),Melons,Cantalopes always gave me leaf problems when over watered.Those leaves needed good air circulation to keep dry to thwart the fungal issues.Until the rootball gets well established in the Wonder Soil the water seems to drain to good and fast and collect in my container trays(which I use as a watering caliber).So I adjusted the water accordingly.
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Old December 29, 2014   #10
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Hi Kurt,

Thanks for the post - esp. useful as you're using the Wonder Soil, too. I think part of my problem, as Raybo said, is fact that the drain is on the side of my container so it stays wet in the bottom inch or two. I drilled a smaller hole on the container side about 1/2" from the bottom. No water came out, but maybe it'll help things dry out a little faster to that level.

I started using a moisture meter with 6" long probes and it's still moist that far down (6") - about halfway between "wet" and "dry" on the meter. I'll wait until I see some wilting in the plants plus a very low moisture reading on the meter before watering again. The Wonder Soil does seem to drain really well, so it's a bit hard to judge things from the first few surface inches.

Some of the lower leaves have "brownish spots/areas" that might be fungus and/or might be from getting water splashed on the leaves when I watered with some water that had a bit of azomite in it or when I was using the water recycled from my first drain collection. The new leaves look good (if a bit on the pale side) and things are growing well (have about a dozen baby cukes) so I'm hoping things will green up soon. I think I may add a small fan to the set up for better air circulation. The "cucumber habitat" is open at the top but has the mylar sheeting on all 4 sides.

Thanks for the info and tips!
Anne
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