Container gardening for tomatoes,innovative pool designs kings mountain nc,simple covered patio ideas - PDF Review

This is my first time using an EarthTainer (my previous attempts at tomato-growing have been tragically middling), so I don't know for sure that it will result in perfect tomatoes for me. Access to a Sunny Porch, Patio or Balcony: Tomato plants needs direct sunlight for several hours per day.
Garden Hose or Watering Can: Be careful not to let the soil in your tomato container get too dry. Compost Diva Tip #1: adding compost is the singular most important step you can take to preparing your soil for planting tomatoes.
Stakes or Cages to Keep the Plant(s) Upright: Depending on your container size and tomato variety, your plant could grow to 5 or 6 feet tall! Others may only have room for just a few plants and so productivity is likely going to be a major concern.
We encourage gardeners who are just starting out to grow a variety of varieties to see what works best for them, and also what may appeal to their tastes. If you treat tomato seeds properly, they can be stored for 5-10 years and still show a high germination rate. The classic method of saving seeds is to leave them out in a plastic container for a few days until they start to ferment. Tomato seeds grown from open pollinated varieties will always produce the same variety from year to year provided there has been no inadvertent cross-pollination by insects. Cut a hole or X on the bottom of each tomato and squeeze the juice and seeds into a measuring cup.
There are several reputable sources for tomato seeds, but two we particularly like based on their selection and service are Tomato Growers Supply and Victory Seeds.
Victory Seeds is known for having the most complete Livingston tomato variety collection around and has a fantastic selection of heirloom and historical tomato varieties. Sand Hill Preservation is known for their extraordinary melon varieties and poultry selection, while their tomato catalog selection contains many varieties which remain difficult to find outside of private collectors. Orders for Sand Hill must be submitted via snail mail (no online ordering), and only checks and money orders are accepted.
Marianna’s Heirloom Seeds specializes in some of the more unusual varieties of tomato seed. If you are looking for a mail order source that has a great selection of well-grown open pollinated and heirloom transplants, check out Selected Plants. Houston (Inside Loop 610) nurseries have gone out of their way to distinguish their offerings with unique choices of tomato and pepper seedlings you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. Houston (Outside Loop 610) nurseries all carry a selection of tomato varieties including the ubiquitous Chef Jeff‘s line of tomato and pepper plants which have some good choices. Another nursery I recently discovered in Austin that is worth checking out for tomato and other vegetable and herb transplants is The Natural Gardener. While we do grow a few dwarf and determinate tomato varieties, the vast majority of the tomato varieties we grow are indeterminate, producing 5-10′ tall plants. Here, we present the methods we prefer or recommend for adequately supporting indeterminate or semi-determinate varieties. These premium cages are made of galvanized metal (little or no rust), foldable for easy storage, and solidly constructed.
Staking is a frequently recommended means of supporting tomato plants, however, it requires a fair amount of maintenance for indeterminate tomato varieties.
You may be tempted to allow your tomato plants to sprawl along the ground, as they do in their native environment. The most common and problematic diseases of tomato plants in Central and South Texas are foliar fungal (rather than systemic) diseases such as Early Blight and Septoria Leaf Spot. Actinovate might also be worth a try, and there is some anecdotal evidence out there to suggest that it might help to create a favorable environment for the roots to thrive and resist RKN. Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV) is a devastating tomato disease for some folks in the Panhandle, but is not generally seen that much in Central and South Texas at this time.
Assassin Bugs can look similar in appearance to leaf-footed or stink bugs from a distance, but have distinct differences in leg formation and other distinguishing characteristics.
Keep an eye out for Cornworms and Fruitworms, as they will tend to bore into the fruits and cause damage. A magnifying hand lens may be helpful in spotting them early on – look on the undersides of the leaves for moving dots and thin wispy webbing. Container growing is a quick and easy way to expand your available gardening area even if you have poor soil or limited space in your yard to make garden beds. Also, container growing is a good alternative for those who are battling various soil problems, and losing the battle.
Larger containers are preferable in our hot climate because it cuts down on watering and it also makes for a more stable planting that is less likely to tip over in a storm.
I have found ANY variety can be successfully grown in a container, especially if the container is an adequate size for the plant.
Cherry types are also good for containers (use 10 gallon minimum) because they are much less susceptible to blossom end rot (BER) than larger fruited varieties. Containers should not be allowed to dry out completely, as this can cause BER and blossom drop.
Using larger containers and mulching can cut down drastically on the time spent performing this task. For our hot climate, containers in light or neutral colors are generally best so the roots don’t bake.
One cup of slow release fertilizer (10-10-10 or the kind labeled for vegetables or tomatoes).
While there is no hard and fast rule, I generally prefer not to reuse container mix more than once.
High winds can be a problem in our area and can cause even a large container to tip over, especially if it is a large indeterminate plant, top heavy and loaded with fruit.
Grow bags are an inexpensive alternative to hard sided containers and are also much easier to store. You can make your own EB type containers to cut down on the expense, and so that you can have a larger water reservoir than standard to cut down on the need to fill it so frequently. There are many forces which conspire to drain the flavor right out of the tomatoes you find at your local grocery store. The vast majority of tomatoes are picked green and shipped thousands of miles to an ethylene gas processing facility to forcibly ripen them to a pale pink.
Fact: We have found that if you plant large transplants early enough, in the right conditions, almost any tomato variety can be grown successfully here. Fact: Even the fussiest tomato varieties can be grown and produce as well in containers they do in the ground, if they are given the right size pot, the right care and nutrients. Tip: Fresh horse manure should be allowed to age for at least 2 months before you plant your tomatoes.
March or April is much too late to buy a 6-pack of tiny tomato transplants from a big box store.
We now recommend transplanting your plants, installing your soaker hoses, placing your tomato cages, and then wrapping your tomato cages with summerweight Row Cover at planting time.

Walls of Water are a frequent recommendation for protecting tomato plants from cool weather. If you contact your county extension service about growing tomatoes, you will likely receive recommendations for productive commercial hybrid varieties such as Celebrity, Carnival, Sunmaster, Bingo, and BHN444. It can be a challenge to select the right tomato varieties that balance between the best tasting and best producing for S.E. Although there are some good sources to buy great tomato transplants in Houston, Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio, sometimes the only way to grow your favorite varieties is to start your own seeds. Once your tomato plants start to develop small tomatoes, an additional feeding of fertilizer is recommended. Properly hardened-off tomato plants should be transplanted into the ground 2-3 feet apart from one another, and planted as deep as possible (removing any foliage which will be underground). Tip: Water your tomato plants just before taking them out of the pots and planting in the ground, and then water them again, getting the surrounding soil moist. After all the time and effort you have invested in your garden, don’t kill your tomato plants with kindness! Fortunately, applying a thick layer of mulch, proper watering, sanitary gardening practices, and weekly application of an anti-fungal spray can keep these problems at bay long enough to have a fantastic harvest. Most of our preferred tomato varieties have an indeterminate growth habit which means they grow up to be free-spirited 5-8 feet tall plants. Texas Tomato Cages are the Cadillac of tomato cages, as they are very sturdy, last forever and can be folded for easy storage, but their price ($26 each shipped) may be out of reach for many readers. It's a method that eliminates many of the pitfalls of both in-ground and container-based growing, and that, after an initial frenzy of work, allows you to produce an overflowing bounty of delicious tomatoes (and many other plants) while pretty much forgetting about them.
The EarthTainer is a "self-watering container," which isn't a novel concept to most gardeners.
But the EarthTainer has a couple of major advantages over conventional container gardening.
Whichever you choose, here are tips to help you grow delicious tomatoes in containers using your own compost. Epsom Salt is a readily available source of calcium and magnesium for your plant and helps prevent blossom end rot! However, we’ve found that almost any tomato variety can be grown here when planted at the right time and properly cared for. Properly processing and preserving tomato seeds starts with removing this gel, then drying the seeds, and lastly storing them in a suitable container. You never know how long it’s going to take for the seeds to separate from the tomato solids. Seeds from hybrid tomato varieties are likely to produce many different offspring with variations in fruit size, color, and flavor. If you are considering saving seeds from tomatoes found at the grocery store, realize that most are grown from hybrids (F1) and thus there is a high probability that you will not get the same tomato when you save seeds and grow them.
They also do not take orders from August 15 to December 25, which can be a bit inconvenient for us Texas growers. Her selection of eggplant and peppers is also good, and Marianne carries seed for several sweet Italian frying type peppers, which we have found generally do better here in Texas than bell types. Their selection of organic amendments (both bagged and bulk) is amazing, and they brew compost tea on-site, which is available for sale Fri-Sun. The cone-shaped tomato cages found stacked floor to ceiling at big box retail stores are fine for the smaller varieties, but absolutely will not support our larger plants. There is no need to cut off the bottom so that the cages can be stuck into the ground a few inches, as if will not make the cages stable enough for our occasional high winds, and you will lose a bit of cage height by doing so. We have seen instances where tomato gardeners made a huge garden arch with a panel and planted their tomato plants on the outside. We assume no liability for the use (or misuse) of the products or techniques mentioned above. A container can be set anywhere you have good sun, whether it is on a driveway, a patio, or in the middle of your yard. If reused, it should be turned over to help bury any fungal spores on the surface, and re-amended (see above recipe for container mix). Methods I prefer include the use of a small (18″ diameter) Texas cage placed inside of a large container, a tall 6-8 ft stake, or a cage made of concrete reinforcement wire (CRW) cut to fit inside the container (a small stake may need to be added to attach the CRW cage to for stability). This type of wood has not been treated with arsenic for many years and so is safe for vegetables.
In mid to late February, you should be on the lookout for large (8-12″ tall) transplants from reputable local nurseries, or better yet grow your own transplants from seed! We sow seeds indoors in late December to mid-January and grow them for 6-8 weeks under fluorescent lights before preparing them for the outdoors. This includes the application of fertilizers such as TomatoTone, GardenTone, or other fertilizers with numbers tailored to tomatoes.
It contains many ingredients such as dried molasses, corn gluten meal, dried seaweed, alfalfa meal, and fish meal which are known to foster beneficial soil microorganisms.
Several inches of the stem should be buried if possible, so only the upper branches of each tomato plant are above ground. Tomato plants should be watered well when transplanted, again after 2-4 days depending on the weather, and then if you have prepared your beds as described above, should only require 1-2 inches of water once per week early in the season, provided there is no significant rain. You can make your own cages out of Concrete Reinforcing Wire which have large holes for easy access to the plants, if you don’t mind rusty cages. Don’t forget pay attention to important features on containers such as drainage holes. They're so full of hope, so full of joy at the possibility of being able to eat big, juicy fruit that bears no resemblance to the Nerf balls soaked in tomato-flavored dishwater that we get at the supermarket. For one thing, it's about 50 percent larger than other containers, allowing you to grow much bigger plants. In 34 EarthTainers spread around his cozy backyard, Newstead is growing a small farm's worth of tomatoes, peas, corn, cucumbers, and carrots. This was something of a proof of concept; Newstead's real hope for the EarthTainer is that people will use the system in parts of the world where agriculture is now considered too difficult and expensive. If your plant receives less than six hours of direct sunlight per day, your tomato yield will be smaller. Virtually all tomatoes need a support system to stand upright and to keep branches from breaking when loaded with juicy large fruit. But with the availability of intensely-flavored heirloom tomatoes from my garden, it was time to take inspiration from America’s Test Kitchen and see what was possible in 30 minutes. If you’re going on a trip or out of town for the weekend, you might come back to dried out, useless seeds.
Since a fused blossom is usually a much larger flower than the typical tomato blossom, there is a higher likelihood it attracted bees or other pollinators. If you intend to sprawl, be prepared to grow extra for the slugs, birds, and other critters.
Some we do like for taste include Sun Gold, Better Boy, Sweet Quartz, Mortgage Lifter VFN, and Momotaro — just to name a few.

Ways to minimize the possibility of TSWV include keeping weeds mowed and avoiding plantings of known host plants close to or in your gardening area.
Treatment options tend to be limited for both of these fungal wilts, but luckily, they are rather uncommon in our area.
They are not harmful to your tomatoes, and are in fact a highly beneficial insect which will prey on many other insects in your garden.
However, it can be done if you are willing to keep up with the high watering and feeding requirements that will result from growing large plants in small containers. Excellent drainage is particularly important in a container, which is why I prefer a peat based mix. Tomato plants should be planted out as soon as overnight temperatures are predicted to stay above 40°F for 7 days. Binder clips from your local office supply store are easiest for clipping the row cover into place. However for the home garden, we prefer to grow tomatoes for flavor and those varieties just don’t deliver for us. Typically, seedlings of our favorite tomato varieties aren’t sold at the big box stores. Adding these or a high number fertilizer like 30-30-30 is a recipe for gigantic plants and little or no tomatoes. The fine hairs on the stem of a tomato plant will produce roots when buried, providing a much stronger, healthier root system. It's got a built-in trellis system, which is ideal for tomatoes, peas, and other plants that need lots of physical support.
The EarthTainer frees you from weeding, and Newstead estimates it grows tomatoes with 75 percent less water than you'll need for in-ground planting. The container you use should have an adequate drainage system; make sure the container is not allowed to sit in a pool of water. Compost helps regulate the temperature of the plant’s roots and retains moisture which is especially important in containers. Use a tomato cage, stakes, or bamboo poles to provide your plant with the support it needs. A wise gardener grows a variety of different tomatoes to find which do the best for him or her in terms of productivity, flavor, and other factors. The seeds you save might be cross-pollinated from another tomato and yield unexpected results. Just keep that in mind before reaching for the Sevin dust and regularly coating your plants in it as a general all-purpose bug preventative. Containers are also practical for those who move frequently or live in apartments or condos. I’ve found that much better results are obtained from using a 15 gallon container or larger (10 gal minimum), and prefer to save the 5 gal pots for dwarves or compact determinates. When the container starts to feel lighter and the soil is dry a few inches down, this is usually a good indication it is time to water. However, they can be occasionally be useful to add weight to a container to cut down on the possibility of tipping. The important point is that plants in containers require more frequent fertilization because of all the watering involved, which tends to deplete the container mix. So that the fruit survives long distance shipping and storage.  In Florida, tomato quality grades are judged by uniformity of shape, size, and color. Tomatoes are generally set in the ground the first week of March, and the plants are completely spent by mid-July. Tomato roots, like most plant roots, require not only nutrients and water, but also oxygen for respiration and will rot if left in standing water for even a few hours. If you can find it, Premier Pro-Mix is the most cost-effective bagged potting mix (4 cubic feet compressed for $10~12). A small amount of dolomitic lime might need to be added to your planting hole as well to prevent Blossom End Rot, especially if you are growing in containers. If tomato plants get wet in the evening, there won’t be a chance for the sun to dry off the leaves, leaving your tomato plants vulnerable to fungal and bacterial infections.
At this time, there are few desirable tomato varieties available which protect against these conditions. In other words, in the EarthTainer, Newstead has combined the best parts of in-ground and container gardening, and eliminated the worst. A few years ago, a group of volunteers built a battalion of EarthTainers for an orphanage in Haiti.
Be sure to stake your tomato when it’s first planted to prevent disrupting the root system later. Either way, at ~$80 for 20 cages and a couple hours of work, it is one of the cheapest cage solutions we’ve seen.
Soaker hoses or drip tubing (Netafim, for example) are our preferred method of watering plants.
Nymphs look similar to leaf-footed and stink bug nymphs, so keep that in mind and attempt to make a proper ID before reaching for a pesticide. By the time you pick up that chilled package of tomatoes for $3.99 at the Sack-n-Save, you may as well be buying pink baseballs.
Peat moss is a good ingredient for providing good drainage, although you will need to add a little dish soap to get this normally hydrophobic material to absorb water.
Texas have a great selection of local nurseries with countless tomato varieties to choose from. We'll put them in containers that are too small, in soil that doesn't drain well, or we'll plant them in the ground in an area that gets too little sun.
If you have limited space in which to grow your tomatoes, you might want to select a smaller container which will limit the plant’s growth potential and will keep your plant restricted to a manageable size. Otherwise, we have found that it is wise to leave most of the foliage on for both maximum photosynthesis and protection of the fruits from sunscald.
Daconil can usually be found at most box stores or gardening centers labeled as either Ortho Garden Disease Control or Daconil in a 29.6% concentration.
Finally, Newstead says that because plants in the EarthTainer sit up much higher than in-ground plants, their roots get warmer, which produces fruit much earlier and later in the season (some of his tomatoes are already beginning to fruit).
It’s much easier to see and collect stink bugs on millet then in the dense foliage of a tomato plant. Pre-mixed spray bottles of Daconil have poor application and are not cost effective if you are growing more than a couple of plants.Actinovate is an organic alternative to Daconil for fungal disease prevention and control, and so is Exel LG.
Chemical (non-organic) controls for stink bugs include Ortho Bug-b-Gon Max (Bifenthrin) spray and Sevin (Carbaryl) spray or dust. Either alternate between the two products for your weekly sprayings, or you can mix them together.

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