The new EarthTainer III Rev 3.2 Construction Guide is now availab

rnewste(8b NorCal)May 31, 2011

The new EarthTainer III Rev 3.2 Construction Guide is now available at the TomatoFest website:

Mostly "evolutionary" improvements regarding cage installation, planting instructions, etc.


Here is a link that might be useful: EarthTainer III Guide

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Hi Raybo,

I haven't had great luck with corks and coat hanger wire for water gauges. Last year I made styrofoam floats by pressing a fill tube into a 2 inch thick piece of styrofoam block (this presses out a plug the inside diameter of the pipe), then gently rolling it a bit to make it slide easily in the tube. I used 1/4" dowels from Lowes instead of wire (much lighter) and hot glue to attach them to the floats. This year, I'm looking at small plastic bottles (.5 to 1 ounce) to use as floats. I'll let you know how it goes. I don't use the gauges myself, but like to add them when giving SWCs to others.

Thanks for all the great info,

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 12:32PM
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Suggestions / questions for v3.3:

In Step #12, what's the purpose for inserting that lid cutout into the bottom of container #1?

In Step #15, the 3 5/8" hole and the 1/4" "pegboard" holes are being drilled into the bottom of Container #2, correct? (The angle of the photos for 15 and 16 make it difficult to tell if this is Container #2, or just a lid?

It may be useful to show Container #1, the aeration bench assembly and the cut-down Container #2 (with the wicking basket installed) side by side, then show how Container #2 fits on top of the bench assembly. I'm assuming that the weight of Container #2 (once it's been filled with 130 pounds of media) is supported by the bench assembly and the screws / washers connecting the two?

How movable is the structure once it's been filled with media? I'm concerned that if the container needs to be moved once full, any lateral motion can cause the bench assembly to buckle, and once that happens Container #2 will just collapse down into Container #1 because it will only be supported by the side screws, tearing the plastic and crushing the wicking basket. Would something like 2 ea 4" diameter SCH40 PVC, cut to a height of 5" (or whatever) and placed in the bottom of container #1 provide greater vertical structural support, and also reduce the chance that the two 3/8" pilot holes from Step 3 become clogged, preventing water from flowing into the wicking basket chamber area? If 4" PVC are used as columns then the wicking basket will be free-floating in the water at the bottom of the container.

Move Step 13 so that it's right after Step #4? That way you're doing all the jigwsaw cuts at the same time on Container #2. Perhaps indicate that another pilot hole should be drilled for this as well, except it's only going to be used in order to cut away the 1 3/8" section so that Container #2 + wicking basket aren't sticking up above the rim of Container #1?

If you change the name of the PDF file so that it has the version number embedded then browsers won't present a cached version of the document. (When I clicked the link, because I had already downloaded v3.1 and the new document had the same name, my browser helpfully just showed me v3.1 because the names were the same. If the new document was called "EarthTainer-Construction-Guide-3.2.pdf" it wouldn't have done that.)

Thanks, Bob

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 12:36PM
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rnewste(8b NorCal)

Hi Guys,

Thanks for the feedback.

The aeration support bench assembly is very strong. Even without the 2 side support bolts, it held a water filled container of 170 pounds for more than a week, when I discontinued the test. In the lower part of the photo you can see the 2 bolts kept the containers from flaring out so much:

Using the lid cut-out in the bottom just acts as a "double bottom" to prevent any sharp edges of the bench support assembly or wicking basket from cutting into the watertight bottom on the base container.



    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 12:50PM
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Regarding liquid fertilizer in Step 6 of Chapter 3. Is liquid fertilizer added to the water solution at each refill of the reservoir? I don't have a bottle of Grow Big in front of me, but if it's say 4 oz per gallon (or whatever), and the reservoir holds 7 gallons, then how should the fertilizer "schedule" be adjusted? If the intent is to just top-off so that the reservoir never goes dry, should fertilizer be added at each top-off?

Even though evaporation in the reservoir should be minimal, is it likely that the concentration of fertilizer will continue to increase to the point that using fertilizer each time will burn the plants?

Or am I just over-thinking this?

In step 7 of Chapter 3, the top of each EarthTainer only receives a single ply of trash bag? Is the trashbag the "construction-grade" heavy duty 3-mil, or standard kitchen-style lightweight?

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 1:44PM
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rnewste(8b NorCal)


Adding liquid fertilizer into the filler tube is meant to be tailored for your local environment (rain conditions, etc.) as well as the changing growth cycle of the plant throughout the Season. This will be more of a trial and error process, in my opinion. That is why I prefer the granular fertilizer strip approach - - it is more predictable.

Having said that, I do give even those EarthTainers, a one ounce shot of Grow Big, and then changing to Big Bloom once per month, as the Season progresses. Again, not a "scientific approach" at all - - just a gut feel to observe the plants as they grow.

The moisture barrier doesn't need to be "heavy duty" as its intent is to preserve moisture underneath the surface of the Grow Media. So, any weight moisture barrier will work. Now that I am using the "convertible" cage system, it is a 3 minute process to change out the moisture barrier (if needed) at the beginning of each Season.

BTW, I have added some of your clarifications (pilot hole, container #2, etc.) in the new Rev 3.2 version that should be posted to the TomatoFest site tomorrow. I have marked the revised Guide "3.2" instead of "3" for reference.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 2:42PM
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You may want to add a Gurney's part number for the meshes that you discuss in the "Tweaks" section and move it to the standard part of the construction document, (and add it to the parts list) because if it's really that useful it should be installed right at the beginning when it's still easy to work with an empty cage.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 3:12PM
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[I hope I'm not pestering with all the followups.]

Chapter 3, Step 8. Is that just a sheet of aluminum foil?

The "deli container" option - when you say numerous small holes, would slits be easier? Would there be an issue that surface tension of the water might "seal" the holes if they're too small, or is there sufficient pressure in the reservoir water column to make that a non-issue?

It may be useful to explain how the height of the support bench is calculated, so that anyone who can't get the exact 4 inch high wicking basket can ensure that the wicking basket isn't being crushed if it turns out to be too tall relative to the support bench. (Thinking about this before I press send makes me believe that the use of the wicking basket to scribe the line makes this not an actual problem...)

Relating to that, have you considered removing Chapter 1, Step 13 and just making the support bench taller, thereby reducing the number of jigsaw cuts the user needs to make to just one? That will mean that there will be a pool of standing water in the reservoir, because the standard 4" high wicking basket will now have about 1.5" of clearance rather than 1/4", but is that a problem if you can keep the mosquitoes out?

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 3:36PM
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Another suggestion: because of the angle of the pipe and the location of the cage, I found it difficult to water using "buckets" instead of a hose. What I did was put a 45 degree PVC on the pipe, a 6" PVC, then another 45 degree (so that the pipe was vertical again, just offset from the cage) a 6" PVC, then a 3" to 1.5" rubber coupling adapter. (Something like The adapter gives me a bigger target to pour into when I'm in a hurry. (because the mosquitoes are hungry.)

Because it doesn't have to be pressure or water tight, I just press-fit everything together. No PVC cement required, and it'll be easy to take apart in the fall.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 2:32PM
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Hey Rkulagow,
If you're worried about mosquitoes just cover the watering tube and overflow holes with small pieces of panty hose- yep that's right, this will help you remember: P.A.N.T.I.E.S are the P eftect A lternative N ow T hat I s E nding S warms (of Mosquitoes in your Earthtainer)see pic- I used Gorilla Tape to seal the edges of the pieces of pantyhose on the side overflow drain holes

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 7:41AM
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Just wanted to add- I used a potting mix recipe from the site for my Earthtainer- a Global Bucket is basically a 5gal bucket version of the Earthtainer. This has probably already been suggested here but just in case it hasn't: If any of you are making your own potting mix I found the easiest way was just to buy 10 one quart containers from Home Depot- then each container is 10% of a ten quart mix- or 2 quarts is 10% of a 20 quart mix etc etc.

Here is a link that might be useful: Global Buckets website with potting mix recipes

This post was edited by Remodeller on Thu, May 9, 13 at 20:29

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 7:54AM
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That is a great idea. With the Earthtainers in the greenhouse mosquitoes do love to use them as nesting grounds. I've been keeping mosquito dunks in them but I'd rather prevent them from ever getting in there in the first place. .

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 1:54PM
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