Best soil for Container tomatoes?

pastrycook3March 15, 2009

Hi, I am starting some homemade earthtainers and want to know what the best/economical soil mix is, before i buy $100 in soil. I have 48 heirloom tomatoes coming in the next week or two. So i am starting to get ready. I have read miracle gro potting soil, but what about the garden soil. Home depot has Margo's pro potting soil, how is that? Ant advice would be great! I am currently trying to acquire milk crates for the containers(and stacking them 2 high with the bottom cut out of one and lining the inside with plastic bags to achieve about 1 10 gallon container for each tomato plant), but if i cant collect enough i will have to buy the 18gallon sterlites.

Whats the best Mix to buy and where to get it? Or whats the best things to mix to make my own I have walmart, homedepot, tractor supply company and a few small nurseries around town

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rnewste(8b NorCal)

What you want to use for self-watering containers is Potting MIX - - not Potting SOIL. Al Tapla here posts his homemade mix formula. For commercial products, I had the best results with Miracle-Gro Potting Mix (without Moisture Control). I also used Lowes Sta-Green, but did not have as good results.

Be sure to add Lime into the mix before you plant:

Be sure to use Dolomite Lime - - not Hydrated Lime.

I also recommend Tomato-tone fertilizer, if you can find it locally.

See the link below for more detailed planting instructions at the end of the Guide

Raybo

Here is a link that might be useful: EarthTainer II WaterMizer Edition Guide

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 7:49PM
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irishtwinsmommy

Use Potting mix WITHOUT the fertilizer already added. Put some gravel or shards of broken terra cotta pot at the bottom of your pots to make sure they drain really well. Then use a slow release feritizer made for tomatoes and or water with a compost tea halfway through/ beginning of the fruit bearing season. There you go!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 1:25PM
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freemangreens(Zone 10 CA)

Irishtwinsmommy's suggestion of using "compost tea" was spot-on advise.

I'm a hydro grower and I stumbled upon the most perfect hydroponic nutrient ever: compost tea manufactured from composted chicken manure.

pH changes in hydroponics can be devastating. As it turns out, nutrient concentrate manufactured from organic composted chicken manure is self-buffering and holds the pH at or near 6.3, which is perfect for tomatoes (and strawberries -- we grow both).

After much consideration, I posted the recipe for my hydro nutrient in my online store along with several other cool goodies. The link is my recipe. Relax, everything in my online store is FREE!

By the way, after posting the recipe, several folks emailed me not being able to find EZ Green brand composted chicken manure and it turns out it's marketed only on the west coast. It's my guess that any brand of composted chicken manure will do the trick.

Here is a link that might be useful: Build Your Own Self-Buffering Nutrient

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 12:34PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I think I'd like to know how chicken manure is "self-buffering" - please explain that? .... and I need something better than magic ingredients and "These Âwee-beasties somehow keep the pH hovering right around 6.2 or 6.3" to be convinced. I'm also interested in listening to you build a case that explains how you can make the claim "I stumbled upon the most perfect hydroponic nutrient ever."

It seems just a little over the top and a little to good to be truish to me.

Al

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 3:15PM
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aliceinvirginia

I've found that the components for Al's mix are much cheaper than a comparable potting mix bag.

If you are making earth tainers or other self-watering containers, you do *NOT* want to use the potting mix that includes the water absorbing crystals. You will just end up with tremendously soggy soil.

The milk crate idea sounds a little unstable to me. Unless you can get them easily for free.

I highly recommend 5 gallon buckets. Although at the moment I have far too many of them. I'm planning on cutting some of them in half and using the top part for a height extension, and the bottom half for a partial container somewhere else. Maybe to use a lid and split it into a very shallow lettuce SWC.

Cutting about 2-5 inches below the bulky rings around the top would work I think.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 4:16AM
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old-injun

OLD-INJUNÂS SECRET TO GROWING TOMATOES IN CONTAINERS
SO.FLORIDA ZONE 10

1- 2/3 MIRACLE GROW POTTING MIX MIXED WITH 1/3 COW OR CHICKEN MANURE (BLACK COW OR BLACK HEN).
2- MIX 4 TBLS OF SLOW RELEASE FERTILIZER (12-12-12) TO EACH 5 GAL OF MIX
3- ADD 3 TBLS OF DOLIMITE PER 5 GAL OF MIX
4- DRESS AROUND PLANT 6 INCHES FROM STEM WITH 4 TBLS OF SLOW RELEASE FERTILIZER
5- USE 5 GAL CONTAINERS OR LARGER
6- FERTILIZE WITH LIQUID FERTILIZER (12-12-12) EVERY WEEK AT A RATE OF 1/2 TEASPOON PER GALLON OF WATER
7- WATER 1/2 GALLON OF WATER DAILY(BEFORE NOON) PER 5 GAL POT
8- SPRAY WITH COPPER AND FUNGICIDE (SUCH AS DACONIL) EVERY 7 DAYS, STARTING 2 WEEKS AFTER PLANTING.

AFTER 5 YEARS OF EXPERIMINTATION. THIS WORKS. GOOD LUCK.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 3:26PM
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justaguy2(5)

While I am sure you are getting results you are happy with in S Florida with that mix, here in Wisconsin I think I would end up with a tomato and mud soup ;)

And not to nitpick, but if you are using Daconil every 7 days aren't you going way over the total amount the label says is safe on edibles? I believe 7 applications is the max. If one were to use it weekly starting 2 weeks after planting and the plant lived 4 months that would be 14 applications.

I would be hesitant to advise someone to use a pesticide in a manner inconsistent with label instructions, particularly on edibles.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 3:47PM
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kylew

So, can anyone speak to temperature issues with containers. When nursery pots are used, they are black and would absorb heat. Is this an issue with tomatoes, or other veggies? Obviously, painting the container white would help or placing behind/in something.
We do not get as hot in Colorado as Florida but we do have very bright sunlight.
How about ambient air temps in the heat of the summer- are they a problem for any above ground container veggies?
I know that inground pot-in-pot system is the answer. I hope to move to that in 2010 but this year I was going to start with above ground containers.

Kyle

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 7:14PM
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imstillatwork(8-9 Oregon Coast / Ca Border)

kylew :
I had some seriously high soil temps in the greenhouse where direct light hit the containers. I placed some scrap plywood on the sunny side of the containers and the temps cam down.

Containers in the sun in feb (50F outside) had a peak soil temp of 95-105F on the hot side of the container in the greenhouse (75F).

After I shaded them with the plywood the soil temps peak at around 75 on the sunny side.

Just try to keep DIRECT sun off the containers for tool long. grab a thermometer and check. you might want some sun on the container sometimes. (i use stainless steel meat thermometers becuase they poke into the soil easy and last forever - cheap too)

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 8:55PM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

I use lime when I make soilless mixs like the 5-1-1. Why are some saying to use lime in a soilmix that is 6.5ph when tomatoes like acid soil like 6 anyway?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 2:43AM
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