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

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Old January 9, 2007   #1
CLa
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Default Homemade Earthbox soil/etc question

I am making homade earthboxes specifically to plant tomatos and could not find any definite answers on what the best set up is for soil and fertilizer.

Would someone who has good success with their homemade earthbox(s) give me some pointers on best potting soil/mix mixtures and fertilizer to use?
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Old January 9, 2007   #2
RDUN
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I grew several plants in the fall in self-watering containers. I have the Gardener's Supply type which are the same principle as the Earthbox or a Homemade earthbox.

I think the most important thing to do is to use a good soil-less potting mix... not potting soil. I don't know if they have it in LA but here in TX, Home Depot carries the Pro-Mix which is what I use.

As far as fertilizer goes, I used two different kinds side by side last fall as a comparison, and based on that, I will be using the Espoma Tomato Tone Fertilizer this spring.

Also, if you go to the Earthbox website you can download their instructions regarding planting mix and fertilizer which can be easily adapted to your home-made earthboxes. They also recommend mixing lime into your planting mix to prevent Blossom-End Rot. I don't know if it really helps or not but I used it and didn't have any BER

All this grand advice is coming from someone with exactly 1 season of experience, so others may be able to help us both out.
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Old January 10, 2007   #3
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It takes two cups of 6-8-10 fertilizer per box and one cup of dolemite. I use 8-10-8 as it is more readily available. For potting soil, use Jungle Growth or Speedlings. You may have to search for Jungle Growth but I think it is the best for Earthboxes. I currently have 15 Earthboxes and 7 faux Earthboxes. The faux Earthboxes I created are the same size and shape. Took me a while to weld them up. However, they are sturdy. I am going to buy 4 more of the real deal next week.

I think it is better to save the time and effort and just spring for the real thing.
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Old January 10, 2007   #4
bydsign
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I'm female and I put these bootleg earthboxes together
using directions from this site...

http://www.josho.com/Earthbox.htm


Cost per box... about $11, before plants n' soil mix.


I use Lambert's potting mix from Home Depot.

I used the Espoma Tomato Tone organic fertilizer.

I used the Espoma lime product that was on clearance
sale @ Lowe's.


My plants grew like they were on steroids! Believe me!
I had a basis for comparison.

My 1st garden attempt last Spring was in traditional containers.
I grew Sweet 100 cherry and Brandywine tomatoes. In
retrospect, I realize the yield was measley.

In my Fall garden, I have about 9 bootleg earthboxes...
and planning to create another 2-3 for seedlings that I
got growing now.


I highly recommend the self-watering containers for those
with small urban gardens or very poor soil.
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Old January 11, 2007   #5
CLa
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I appreciate the replies, glad to see you are all down south since I am looking for the right soil for this area.
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Old January 18, 2007   #6
creister
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RDUN and bydesign,

Did yall put 2 or 3 cups of Tomato Tone in your earthboxes? I know the label calls it organic, but I have my doubts. I have used TT before and really like it, but just was curious how much to use. Also, did yall use it as a strip, or mix it into the soil? How many plants 2 or 1 per container?

Has anyone ever tried using alfalfa pellets as fertilizer?
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Old January 18, 2007   #7
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Forgot to mention that I was going to use silver colored mulch on mine to keep the soil temps cooler than black mulch.
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Old January 18, 2007   #8
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I used 3 cups of TT in each box whether I had 1 or 2 plants in them. I mixed 1 cup into the potting mix and poured the other two cups into a strip on top of the mix. Whether this is the best thing to do, I don't know, but it seemed to work fine for me.

It was interesting at the end of the season when I removed the plastic mulch. Where the fertilizer strip had been, was now a solid mass of tiny fibrous roots, like they had congregated there and completely consumed the fertilizer.

Incidentally, one of the local garden centers here had an inventory reduction sale last week, so I got five 5 lb bags of TT and the Espoma Garden Lime for $2.48/bag. I thought that was a pretty good deal.
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Old January 19, 2007   #9
MawkHawk
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For those of you who use Tomato Tone, do you only fertilize when you first plant or do you add more on some sort of schedule?
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Old January 20, 2007   #10
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I used 2 cups of Tomato Tone in a narrow strip along one long side
of the container... much like the Earthbox instructions direct. I mixed the Garden Lime (Dolomite) in with the
top 3-4 inches of potting mix. I use Lambert's potting mix
from Home Depot.

Late in the season, I added a little scoop (probably a few
tablespoons worth) of TT to the water reservoir at the bottom
of my self-watering container. I'm getting even more life and
a second season of tomato buds.


One container, I planted 2 plants: 1 wannabe-Red Brandywine
and one Sweet 100. I liked the Red BW so much, I cut out
the Sweet 100 to give all the resources to RBW.

But all the other containers... like 8 of 'em... I only put 1 plant per container. They were pretty old to be setting out so they were bigger.

I'm going to try to plant 2 plants per container for Spring.

I got 4 of the 5 lb bags of Tomato Tone on order. I think
I will try 3 cups next time.

Those tomato plants sure love that Tomato Tone!


Oh... I've got some tomato plants in regular containers and
I give them a little scoop of TT about every 3 weeks or
so. I originally mixed a little bit in with the potting mix when
I first planted them.



p.s. Fall was my 1st season using the self-watering containers.
I haven't had a chance to rip out those plants and examine
the root system yet 'cuz they're still going gangbusters.

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Old January 20, 2007   #11
bydsign
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creister
Forgot to mention that I was going to use silver colored mulch on mine to keep the soil temps cooler than black mulch.



I'm planning to use white to combat some of the South
Florida heat.

BTW... I just use a plastic garbage bag and X-cut a hole in
it for the plant seedling.


8)
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Old January 20, 2007   #12
bydsign
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MawkHawk
For those of you who use Tomato Tone, do you only fertilize when you first plant or do you add more on some sort of schedule?


If you're using the self-watering style container, follow the
Earthbox directions and only apply a strip of fertilizer when
you first set up.

If you're using traditional containers, mix a little with the
potting mix when you 1st set the plants out, then reapply
every so often. To be honest, I have a calendar and all,
but I'm not real disciplined. I think I throw a l'il scoop (about
3 tablespoons or so) in the 15-20 gal container every 3 wks
or so.
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Old January 21, 2007   #13
CLa
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No ProMix at the Home Depot here, what should I expect to pay for it though, I may get it down in Baton Rouge. As far as Tomato Tone, I'm afraid I will have to use maybe just a plain ole scotts 10 10 10, seems like the cheapest thing and only thing around I can find that does not have a ridiculously large amount nitrogen in the ratio.
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Old January 21, 2007   #14
bydsign
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@ Home Depot...


look for Jungle Mix

or Lambert's potting mix (more expensive)


If you still can't find either, just get some potting mix that
has:

- spaghnum peat moss
- perlite &/or vermiculite


Do NOT buy potting mix with the water-retaining gels
or with fertilizer already in it.
That would be disastrous!
And you need to turn the package over and actually read
the list of ingredients to be sure of what's in the mix.


Good luck! 8)
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Old January 21, 2007   #15
CLa
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Not sure if they have either one of those. I do know they have a scotts, that does not have the added fertilizer, could be wrong, I'll check next time I go. Thanks!
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