5 gal bucket tomato experiment
Let me preface that I've been doing a lot of reading and research on this forum, but I have almost no experience with growing tomatoes. To get straight to the point I'm looking to grow tomatoes (and eventually other veggies) in containers with optimal results at the lowest cost. This thread is going to be filled with many pictures and questions to document my progress, results and gained knowledge. Hopefully this will aid others looking to grow great container vegetables at a low cost. Right now, I'm looking to grow using 5 gal buckets b/c they are essentially free from many fast food restaurants. I have decided to use and compare two soil media and techniques:
Al's 5:1:1 mix in a standard 5gal bucket &
Raybo's 3:2:1 mix in a SWC (i.e. Global Buckets on youtube)
I will be using the same tomato plant variety for each container. I haven't decided which variety quite yet, but probably a determinate variety from bonnie plants (they are sold locally all over here).
So far I have resourced the following materials:
-Six 5gal buckets (FREE!!)
-2cf of pine bark fines (PBF) - Evergreen soil conditioner from Lowes ($3.58!!)
-2cf of jungle growth mix (flower & veggie) from lowes ($7.83)
-40# bag of garden/lawn lime from HD ($2 clearance!!)
-Mater Magic organic fertilizer 8-5-5 w/ 4% calcium ($3)
I believe I can substitute the jungle growth mix for the peat in the 5:1:1 mix which would prevent me having to buy another 2cf of peat moss for $10. But I'll post a picture of the mix and the ingredients just to be sure. Believe it or not, the jungle growth mix is a good $3 cheaper than the same amount of peat moss!
One issue I have is with the perlite. I'm not keen on spending another $11-12 for a 2cf bag of the stuff since I'll only be making 3-4 5gal growing containers and won't need nearly that much. On the other hand,I'm not sure the 8qt MG will be quite enough. I did notice however that the jungle growth mix lists perlite as an ingredient! I wonder if there's enough in there to satisfy Al's mix proportion.
I know it's a little late in the season to get started, but I'm gung-ho and ready to start. I'll post some pics soon.
Need help with:
1. finding perlite (if needed)
2. picking tomato variety (leaning toward determinate for experiment such as bonnie plants "better bush")
3. determining drain hole size and locations for 5:1:1 mix bucket
4. tips for determining watering schedule for 5:1:1 bucket
I'll be posting again soon! Thanks