EarthTainer Planting Guide?

Athenian(USDA 10B/Sunset 22)April 21, 2012

Are there posted guidelines for planting in the homemade EarthTainers? I was following the planting guides for EarthBoxes but I've seen several messages that suggest other planting schemes -- e.g. 4 peppers per box rather than 6. I'm also starting to wonder about my 4 cucumber plants in one row.

I realize that this is all a matter of trial and error; I was just wondering if I'd missed a list somewhere.

Thank you.

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rnewste(8b NorCal)

It really depends on your local climate and other factors. In general, 2 tomato plants per 31 gallon EarthTainer seems optimal. When I did 6 Pepper plants per 'Tainer a few years ago, I got lots of Peppers - but they were rather small. 4 Pepper plants per 'Tainer is what I would recommend.

This Season for my large Big Bertha and Colossal Peppers, I am giving them lots of room and planting only 2 per 'Tainer. Hopefully, this extra room will encourage them to put out really big Peppers.

For cukes, I had 6 "pods" per 'Tainer last year, each with 3 vines. This year, I have spaced them out a bit more with single vines in 12 holes. This is approx 4 to 5 inches between plants. The vertical trellis cage system is essential for this density.

At some point this year, I will add this info to the EarthTainer Guide.


    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 3:06PM
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Athenian(USDA 10B/Sunset 22)

I have five pepper plants in one 'Tainer; I think I'll just consider this another test run and see what happens. I read something about doing another set in the fall so I might try fewer then.

Twelve cucumber plants sounds like an awful lot! I followed the Earthbox guide and planted 4 in a single row along one edge. Would it make sense to put another row on the other side? If so, where/how would you recommend additional fertilizer since I have a single strip along the other edge? I just planted them this week so I suppose I could try to move the fertilizer strip to the center...

How about eggplant? I put some spinach in my trial 'Tainer in January and now that things have warmed up here, it's trying to go to seed. I was thinking that I might redo that one for eggplant. How many plants would you recommend and how many fertilizer strips? Should it be caged like the peppers?

Thank you very much for all the time you've put into the guide -- it's absolutely amazing that I've been able to do this myself.


    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 4:37PM
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rnewste(8b NorCal)

Regarding Eggplant, I gave my neighbor an EarthTainer a few years ago and she insisted on planting 4 plants in it:

Far too crowded! I would say 3 max would be the limit. Even 2 would probably do great.

With regard to the Peppers, it depends on the varieties you are planting. Here is a 'Tainer 2 years ago with 6 sweet bell plants:

As you can see, far too crowded, so for this type, only 4 should be planted.

It is too late to "move" the fertilizer strip now. I would simply dig it up and use the Mix / residual fertilizer elsewhere in the yard. Put a new strip right down the center of the 'Tainer and plant 4 more cukes where the old fertilizer strip was. Eight cuke plants will be just right for the 'Tainer. I put in 12 figuring 2 or 3 will die off during the Season:


    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 5:47PM
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dancinglemons(7B VA)

First I'd like to thank Raybo for the info on plants per EarthTainer. Next I'd like to put in my 2 cents. I only put 2 Eggplants in an Earthbox which is not as large as the ET and I thought it did just fine until I put one Eggplant in the Earthbox -- in the center with two fert strips 5 inches away from the plant stem on each side. The EB with only one Eggplant and two fert strips did fantastic. I also have ET's and will be able to put 2 Eggplants because of the higher volume of growing media. I did not take many photos last year but will take some this year and post here.

As for peppers, I would only put 2 pepper plants in EarthBox and only 3 or 4 in EarthTainer because I get better production that way. I grow Topepo Rosso, New Mex Big Jim, Big Bertha and several other pepper plants that get rather large when they are not crowded. The pepper plants do produce when crowded but they REALLY produce larger and increased quantity when not crowded.

Just my 2 cents.....


    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 2:07AM
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Athenian(USDA 10B/Sunset 22)

Thank you DL.

I've now rearranged both of my earth tainers. I added 4 more cucumber plants to one and removed one pepper plant from the other. I moved one of the remaining peppers to spread them out and I ended up badly mutilating the root ball. I guess I'll just have to hope for the best.


    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 4:48PM
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rnewste(8b NorCal)


I think you are spot on with your planting recommendations!


    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 6:23PM
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Athenian(USDA 10B/Sunset 22)

I thought I'd post a follow-up about my Earthtainer planting experience -- specifically as it relates to the planting recommendations.

I planted 4 pepper plants -- 3 bells and an Anaheim and this is the result

The Anaheim is almost a foot taller than the cage.
In spite of scaring myself with a calcium nitrate overdose, both types have lots of fruit.

I think though, that the plants are a bit crowded.
For my fall crop, I'm planning to put only 3 plants per container ...and I'm not going to mix types.

My cucumber plants did quite well for a while but then succumbed to some sort of disease.

I started some seeds 3 weeks ago and plan to put them out in a new Earthtainer next week. I have 9 seedlings and can't decide whether to do them as 3 hills of three across the center of the container or as 4 hills, each in its own quadrant (with the fertilizer put down in a cross).

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 11:45AM
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rnewste(8b NorCal)

Your Pepper plants are looking great - - if a bit crowded. Next Season, I am limiting the Peppers to 3 plants per EarthTainer. They will grow larger Peppers with more space.

Regarding the cukes, I would not "hill them up" as the EarthTainer environment (watering, etc.) is different from field planting. Instead, space out your 9 cuke seedlings evenly throughout the EarthTainer (3 rows of 3 plants each). This elbow room will permit the 9 cuke plants to better develop.


    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 12:14PM
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Athenian(USDA 10B/Sunset 22)

Thanks Raybo. Working with the EarthTainers has definitely beeen an adventure. I've definitely become a convert as far as peppers and cucumbers are concerned. Visitors all comment about how meaty the peppers are and lament their own small, thin-walled fruit -- which was always our in-ground experience too.

Okay, I'll try a 9-patch planting for the cucumbers with a fertilizer cross hatch (tic-tac-toe). I saw a message you posted somewhere about where to place the trellis netting. I didn't see it until my plants were already climbing and now I can't find any guidance for my new cage. I think that would be a good addition to the construction guide.

Some pointers about the calcium nitrate "snack" would be good too. It wasn't until I had already poured a great deal more than recommended into the resevoir that I read a specific suggestion for EarthTainers. I was afraid that I had overdosed the plants but fortunately, it doesn't seem to have harmed them at all...and I do have a *lot* of fruit.


    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 8:31PM
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rnewste(8b NorCal)


The Trellis Netting is covered in the Guide with a photo as well. The "standard" 7 inch mesh works great. Available at all Nurseries and on line.

I'm still experimenting with the snack. Another product that I am having EXCELLENT results with is a Nitrogen-fixing additive called Azos. Check it out from Xtreme Gardening.


    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 6:57PM
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