Hello From Central Texas

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TX-TomatoBug
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Hello From Central Texas

#1

Post: # 121048Unread post TX-TomatoBug
Sat Apr 13, 2024 3:52 pm

Hello all, I'm Diane. Am glad to be part of this forum.

I had an in-ground vegetable garden for a few seasons about 25 years back but set it aside to pursue education and a career. After retiring in 2022, I can now indulge again in the growing fever that hits me every spring.

I am focusing on container vegetables, rather than in-ground, hoping to learn from each season and eventually master container gardening. Last spring was the first season and what a total fiasco it was! Almost 30 containers, and every one was a dismal failure. My harvest consisted of 4 tiny Sun Gold tomatoes off a very scrawny plant. But, wow, did they taste good!

Today, I have 11 containers with very happy thriving plants (yes, one is Sun Gold) and a bunch of set tomatoes. What did I learn? Lesson #1: There's a HUGE difference in the quality of bagged soils. Lesson #2: Ummm, don't plant 30 containers. :roll: As you can see, I have lots to learn.

I am interested in learning about others' experiences in general, but especially with container tomatoes in Texas, and particularly varieties from the Dwarf Tomato Project.

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bower
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Re: Hello From Central Texas

#2

Post: # 121049Unread post bower
Sat Apr 13, 2024 4:13 pm

Welcome Diane! :) You're in good company here with lots of Texan experience including containers.
And there are lots of us container gardeners here as well from all around.
Glad to have you aboard, and feel free to ask for help with any question.
AgCan Zone 5a/USDA zone 4
temperate marine climate
yearly precip 61 inches/1550 mm

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pepperhead212
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Re: Hello From Central Texas

#3

Post: # 121060Unread post pepperhead212
Sat Apr 13, 2024 6:05 pm

Welcome to the forum!

Here's another thing to think about when planting a lot of containers - don't try to hand water all of them...especially in a very hot area, like yours! Set up a drip irrigation system, on timers. Here's a photo with an example of what I mean, showing a thin line going into the container, from a line running over them.
ImageSunsugar 5-20 First to flower, as usual. by pepperhead212, on Flickr

What size are those containers you have them in? That one in my photo is about 15 gallons, for two plants, and the timer is set to re-fill the container every 12 hours - once a day, and it will be dry, from just 2 plants, once they get full sized.
Woodbury, NJ zone 7a/7b

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PlainJane
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Re: Hello From Central Texas

#4

Post: # 121063Unread post PlainJane
Sat Apr 13, 2024 6:24 pm

Welcome to the forum from N. Florida!
“Never try to outstubborn a cat.”
- Robert A. Heinlein

zeuspaul
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Re: Hello From Central Texas

#5

Post: # 121066Unread post zeuspaul
Sat Apr 13, 2024 8:13 pm

@TxGrdnGal14 Welcome to the Junction. What are you using for your soil mix?

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TX-TomatoBug
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Re: Hello From Central Texas

#6

Post: # 121067Unread post TX-TomatoBug
Sat Apr 13, 2024 8:34 pm

pepperhead212 wrote: Sat Apr 13, 2024 6:05 pm Welcome to the forum!

Here's another thing to think about when planting a lot of containers - don't try to hand water all of them...especially in a very hot area, like yours! Set up a drip irrigation system, on timers. Here's a photo with an example of what I mean, showing a thin line going into the container, from a line running over them.

What size are those containers you have them in? That one in my photo is about 15 gallons, for two plants, and the timer is set to re-fill the container every 12 hours - once a day, and it will be dry, from just 2 plants, once they get full sized.
Thanks for the drip system and timer suggestion - definitely worthwhile for the ridiculous temps that are coming. You have great photos. What kind of material is covering the soil? I assume it is for warming the soil.

I have a Patio and Better Bush in 3-gal fabric pots, Celebrity and Sun Gold in 5-gal. Yep, I'm gonna be sorry about the Sun Gold in only a 5-gal, but I wanted something I could lift into the house in early spring low temps.

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TX-TomatoBug
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Re: Hello From Central Texas

#7

Post: # 121068Unread post TX-TomatoBug
Sat Apr 13, 2024 8:37 pm

zeuspaul wrote: Sat Apr 13, 2024 8:13 pm @TxGrdnGal14 Welcome to the Junction. What are you using for your soil mix?
Using Sun Pro Black Gold Natural & Organic Raised Bed & Potting Mix this year.

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karstopography
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Re: Hello From Central Texas

#8

Post: # 121073Unread post karstopography
Sat Apr 13, 2024 9:19 pm

Welcome from the Texas Coast.

Bagged soils are interesting. My number one favorite is Baccto Premium. https://baccto.com/home-gardening/premium-potting-soil/
Zone 9b, located in the Columbia bottomlands, annual rainfall 46”

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pepperhead212
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Re: Hello From Central Texas

#9

Post: # 121074Unread post pepperhead212
Sat Apr 13, 2024 9:43 pm

@TX-TomatoBug That stuff on the surface of the soil in that Earthbox is actually something good for cooling the soil, as it is very shiny, at first; the stuff in that photo was probably at least 4 or 5 years old, and lasts incredibly well. I got a 250' x 4' roll of it about 10 years ago, and still have some left on it! It is silver on one side, black on the other - the silver also is supposedly a deterrent to some pests, but the reflective is best for the cooling.

Before I started using those Earthboxes, and making my own sub-irrigated planters, I grew some tomatoes in 4 and 5 gallon buckets, and the cherry tomatoes I grew in the 4 gallon ones, and by the end of the season never had gotten rootbound (despite getting large plants), but regular, indeterminate tomatoes would usually get rootbound in a 5 gal, which is why I had to come up with something better for them. Yet the ones in buckets still produced more than in the ground, usually.
Woodbury, NJ zone 7a/7b

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Whwoz
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Re: Hello From Central Texas

#10

Post: # 121076Unread post Whwoz
Sat Apr 13, 2024 10:14 pm

Welcome to the Junction from Down Under @TxGrdnGal14

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AKgardener
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Re: Hello From Central Texas

#11

Post: # 121078Unread post AKgardener
Sat Apr 13, 2024 11:27 pm

Welcome from alaska. My sisters live in Texas. Im container gardening this year .. once you get the hang of it it’s pretty easy.. good luck this season

zeuspaul
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Re: Hello From Central Texas

#12

Post: # 121083Unread post zeuspaul
Sun Apr 14, 2024 2:52 am

TX-TomatoBug wrote: Sat Apr 13, 2024 8:37 pm Using Sun Pro Black Gold Natural & Organic Raised Bed & Potting Mix this year.
I assume you mean Sun Gro? That looks like a pretty good mix. Are you going to reuse the mix? It contains bark, peat and perlite which are the basics for my original 511 mix (5 bark, 1 peat, 1 perlite). It has since evolved. I have added more of the same over the years. Also added worm castings, Autozone Floor Dry DE (like perlite but holds more water), crushed egg shells, spent tea leaves, organic granular fertilizer (Garden-Tone), compost among other things. Good quality bark is hard to find. The type of mix will vary depending on the type of container and the watering system.

Now I start with Kellogg Garden Organics Patio Plus Premium Outdoor Potting Mix: Aged recycled forest products, aged rice hulls, composted poultry manure, perlite, peat moss, hydrolyzed feather meal, dehydrated poultry manure, dolomite & oyster shell limes (as pH adjusters), bat guano, kelp meal, worm castings.

The quality of specific bagged products can vary a lot in some brands and can vary in different parts of the nation.

Fabric pots will make watering in a hot climate a challenge. A drip system will help with that. I became fond of drip in my inground garden. However I hand water in my container garden. Drip would require a network of lines above the surface and individual setups for each container.

I prefer large plastic containers. 5, 10, 15, 25, and 40 gal black plastic nursery pots. Plastic helps keep the water in so I don't have to water as often. Still at least once a day in hot weather. I water each container with a coarse spray while I count to 10 or 20+ depending on how hot it is. For my large indeterminate tomatoes I prefer 25 gal. The larger the container the more water available to the plant.

I prefer using a saucer under the containers less than 20 gallons to help keep the soil hydrated in hot weather.

A good alternative would be self watering containers but I have no experience with them.

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Cornelius_Gotchberg
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Re: Hello From Central Texas

#13

Post: # 121117Unread post Cornelius_Gotchberg
Sun Apr 14, 2024 10:43 am

Welcome from America's Dairyland!

The Gotch
Madison WESconsin/Growing Zone 5-A/Raised beds above the Midvale Heights spade-caking clay in the 77 Square Miles surrounded by A Sea Of Reality

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GVGardens
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Re: Hello From Central Texas

#14

Post: # 121157Unread post GVGardens
Sun Apr 14, 2024 11:13 pm

Welcome! My container experience mirrors yours: good soil makes a huge difference! I haven't had great luck with grow bags because they dry out super fast in our summers. I've had good results with diy self-watering containers or, like @zeuspaul, the big pots nurseries use for trees. I often get them free from landscapers. Most of my gardening is in raised beds but I'm doing Wherokowhai (dwarf) plus Flamenco in containers.

The nice thing about the smaller plants and smaller containers (under 10 gallons) is that you can easily move them inside during a freeze. So even if you still have some failures this summer, re-plant for fall! Silvery Fir Tree is one that does well in a 5 gallon container here and is pretty cold hardy.

Peppers also do well in 5 gallon pots!
Clay soil in the Texas Hill Country, Zone 9b-ish
Yearly precipitation: 35 inches

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MissS
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Re: Hello From Central Texas

#15

Post: # 121169Unread post MissS
Mon Apr 15, 2024 6:39 am

Hello and welcome to the Junction.
~ Patti ~

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TX-TomatoBug
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Re: Hello From Central Texas

#16

Post: # 121186Unread post TX-TomatoBug
Mon Apr 15, 2024 11:55 am

Thanks for the welcomes from all over the world - awesome.

@pepperhead212 Earthboxes have my attention. Plan to try in the fall or next spring. Shiny stuff sounds helpful for Texas. Your success with cherries in 4-gal is encouraging!

@zeuspaul Yes, oops, Sun Gro not Pro. It's been great so far. I don't have experience reusing mix - another topic to learn about. Curiously, last year, the Year-of-Dismal-Failure, I used Kellogg Raised Bed & Potting Mix Organic Plus in 5-gal white plastic food-grade buckets with lots of drainage holes. I know now that the mix had very poor drainage so roots were smothered. Perhaps I was a victim of your statement about variations within a brand and locations in the nation. I appreciate your insight on that. Was also concerned that the plastic buckets added to the problem, so went with fabric this year. May end up going back to buckets next year along with the Sun Gro mix.

@GVGardens Thanks for the tips. I have one heirloom pepper, Purple Beauty, in 3-gal pot; it's a happy plant. Do you have experience with any of the other dwarf tomato varieties?

zeuspaul
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Re: Hello From Central Texas

#17

Post: # 121191Unread post zeuspaul
Mon Apr 15, 2024 1:51 pm

TX-TomatoBug wrote: Mon Apr 15, 2024 11:55 am Perhaps I was a victim of your statement about variations within a brand and locations in the nation.
INGREDIENTS: This product is regionally formulated with organic materials (including one or more of the following: Processed Forest Products, Recycled Forest Products, Arbor Fines, Peat Humus or Compost), Horticultural Perlite, Coir, Composted Poultry Manure, Sphagnum Peat Moss, Sand, Ground Dolomitic Limestone (pH-adjuster), Gypsum, Worm Castings, Bat Guano, Kelp Meal and Organic Fertilizer. In Georgia, this product contains: 70-80% processed forest products, horticultural perlite, coir, composted poultry manure, sphagnum peat moss, sand, ground dolomitic limestone (pH-adjuster), gypsum, worm castings, bat guano, kelp meal, and organic fertilizer. In Texas, this product contains: recycled forest products, coir, composted poultry manure, organic fertilizer (see below), horticulture perlite, sand, sphagnum peat moss, worm castings, bat guano, ground dolomitic limestone (pH-adjuster), kelp meal.
https://kellogggarden.com/products/kell ... tting-mix/
Many of Kelloggs products are heavy on the forest products (wood) but that shouldn't cause poor drainage. As stated in my previous post I use the Patio Mix but also amend it as necessary. Kelloggs Amend is heavy on forest products so I just use it as a mulch rather than digging it into the soil.

Stick with your success using Sun Gro but you still may want to modify it depending on your container choice.

Earth Boxes rely on wicking and may require a different soil mix than containers watered from above. I have no experience with them but others here and on Earth Box forums do. Good luck with whatever choices you make.

I question this The right type of substrate for growing vegetables in containers does not contain rock, clay, sand, or topsoil. I have no issue with any of these components in my containers. Sand and rock are like perlite to help drainage. Clay can add some minerals. Topsoil can add some sand and clay. I only add these components in small amounts. Also I don't see the need for a sterile mix. I want my mix to be alive. Maybe they are referring to Earth Box containers.
https://earthbox.com/blog/how-the-earthbox-works
Growing MediaEarthBox Organic Potting Mix

Plants require a healthy substrate to grow in, with just the right pH level. While the EarthBox® gardening system employs a similar technique to farming, traditional topsoil just won’t cut it in the system. By purchasing and using a sterile commercial growing medium, you are guaranteeing a safe environment for your plants to grow in, free from soil-borne diseases and pests. A Sphagnum Peat-based potting medium is recommended since peat acts as a sponge, absorbing water to deliver to thirsty plants. Commercial mixes typically have vermiculite (shiny flake mineral) and/or perlite (small white mineral) mixed in to allow for proper aeration and drainage so the mix does not become overly saturated. The right type of substrate for growing vegetables in containers does not contain rock, clay, sand, or topsoil.

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FatBeeFarm
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Re: Hello From Central Texas

#18

Post: # 121198Unread post FatBeeFarm
Mon Apr 15, 2024 4:10 pm

Hello! Welcome to the forum from the White Mountains!
Bee happy and pollinate freely!

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TX-TomatoBug
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Re: Hello From Central Texas

#19

Post: # 121201Unread post TX-TomatoBug
Mon Apr 15, 2024 4:58 pm

@zeuspaul Thanks for great info. I made a screen shot of your mix for future reference and use.

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worth1
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Re: Hello From Central Texas

#20

Post: # 121204Unread post worth1
Mon Apr 15, 2024 5:49 pm

Welcome from Bastrop Texas.
Just south of the balcones escarpment.
Worth
25 miles southeast of Waterloo Texas.

You can't argue with a closed mind.
You might as well be arguing with a cat.

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