Containers in outdoor garden - Saucers?

nattydoll(7)June 24, 2014

I planted cherry tomatoes in a large, plastic container on my North facing front lawn. There are several drainage holes at the bottom, and since I read that tomatoes need lots of water, I left the saucer under it. That plant is 3 feet tall, getting full sun for several hours, but the soil still feels moist on top - from over 24 hours since watering. It's been very sunny, but temps have stayed about 75 all week. Should I remove the saucer for better drainage?

Also, I want to bury the container a few inches into the dirt, to keep it secure from the weather and my neighbors. Would I leave or remove the saucer in that situation?

I have an eggplant plant buried 3 inches into the dirt, terracotta container with one big drainage hole in the middle - 1.5" across. I don't have a saucer for that one. Is the hole safe from garden bugs? I figure earthworms will be ok...

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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Never use saucers with outdoor veggies (or most other plants). You want the water to flush out salts from fertilizers and other things in the container. Even tap water will leave salts in the container and build up over time. Tomatoes in containers need a lot of fertilization and they need to go through a wet-dry cycle. So watering should not be on a schedule. Instead, allow the top several inches of your potting mix to dry out between waterings, and then water thoroughly to the point where about 10 percent of the water comes out the drainage holes each time you water.

Burying part of your container in the ground would only work if the ground drains very well. You can check this by digging a hole, filling it with water and seeing how fast that drains. Then do that the next day, and see how fast it drains then. If it puddles, you could have problems.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 8:53PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

I don't worry about insects who come in through the drainage holes. The ones you need to worry about are more likely to appear on leaves, fruits and stems.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 9:15PM
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nattydoll(7)

Thanks, Ohiofem! I will try to remove the saucer before it gets too heavy.

The soil on my lawn is extremely dry and sandy. The very top layer, when covered with grass or moss, looks deceivingly brown, but the uncovered spots are almost gray. The water drains out right away!

Even when watering plants that we put directly in the soil, after an hour or two, it looks just as dry as if it hadn't been watered. That gets confusing, because then you have two people watering!

That's why I got containers for these veggies. I'd put it off for a while, because I had containers stolen before, but these are pretty heavy and that's why I'm trying to bury them a little.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 9:31PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

If I can, I sit containers outdoors on dirt or mulch. Helps suck out any PWT water that might be in there (even in a 5-1-1) and if the holes are big enough (or you're using fabric pots) - they root a bit into the dirt which can prevent blow-over on windy days.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 2:52PM
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howelbama(7 NJ)

Agree with the above.

Burying them will virtually eliminate any PWT and will also greatly stabilize the temps.

You should get great results.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 10:15PM
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nattydoll(7)

What is PWT?

    Bookmark   June 29, 2014 at 2:27PM
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calistoga_al

You should know that the roots will go through the drainage hole and given a long enough season will completely block the hole and end the drainage. PWT is that water left in the pot after all the free water has drained. When the pot is connected to the ground by virtue of direct contact, it acts like a pot of endless depth, and the chance of PWT is greatly reduced. Al

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 10:20AM
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