Oy Vey! I need encouragement!

meadowdreamer(Z6 TN)April 16, 2012

My husband and I decided to do container vegetable gardeing because our backyard is on the small side and there isn't 1 spot that gets a full 6 hrs of sun. So we are able to move them around during the day. I followed the advice and guidelines for containers and got the perlite, compost, bone meal, etc., mixture, and oh my we really racked up some cost!! Yes, this our first "attempt" at vegetable gardening. I have grown Bradley tomatoes before but that's all. I am just terrified after all that cost they won't grow. Anyway, I just need some encouragement on this money I just slapped down. HAHA!! I read that next year we can reuse the mixture in the containers. Just add a little bit of everything back to it? Please say that's the case...

FYI: We bought 1 Cherokee Purple tomato plant, 2 Bradley tomato plants, 4 cucumber plants (2 in each container), 1 Okra plant.

We have pleanty of mixture left for a few more veggies. If you know of any other's that are great in containers please let me know.

Thanks fellow gardeners!!

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meadowdreamer(Z6 TN)

I realized there is a container gardening forum, so I reposted this over there. Please still feel free to comment if you have any advice though!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 11:43AM
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Hi! I'm not old hat at it either and the cost is crazy but if you can possibly add in the entertainment value to your rewards in addition to fresh veggies in spaces where there might not have been any otherwise, well...

Good luck to you and the container forum is very helpful too.


    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 11:10PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

meadowdreamer, I have a very strong feeling about what might happen over in the Container Forum. Don't get discouraged! There are many, many possibilities regarding a decent potting mix. You can absolutely work with what you already have and enjoy the experience without it becoming a complicated ordeal for you. Hopefully, you will receive plenty of good support in that forum, as they are well meaning. But they can 'sometimes' suggest that there is only one path to success and that is simply not true.

I worry about the compost addition to your medium. Compost, when added to a container, tends to decompose rather quickly into a very fine textured substance that fills the small pore spaces in the mix. That can eliminate excellent water percolation, drainage of excess water, and air exchange. Next time, use the compost in the outside garden areas where it can be of great benefit. This season, just monitor how the medium drains and dries somewhat between waterings. If the soil stays too wet for long periods of time, then the roots will begin to die for lack of oxygen.

Speaking of next time....I'll wager that you will decide on your own that you cannot re-use your potting mixture. Or, at least, not until you dump the majority of it and replace with fresh material. Sorry, but that is just the nature of most potting mediums.

Regular bagged potting mix (which is mostly peat moss) breaks down fairly quickly, losing any porosity it might have had in the beginning. Heck, some are just plain mucky straight out of the bag. Our goal for container growing should be to come up with a medium that is sturdy, very coarse textured, and fast draining. That's the kind of stuff in which roots flourish rather than flounder. Unless the root system is happy....do you know the phrase, "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" ? We want something with a sturdy structure; a mix that won't begin to collapse in a couple of months.

Another reason for fresh new soil is that of disease. Powdery mildew, molds, blights and other common veggie problems can be transferred from one generation to the next via a contaminated potting mix. By next year, though, I'll bet that we can help you come up with an easy to use, less expensive potting medium.

You'll need to find a fertilizer that you are happy with. I'd go for an all purpose soluble product, myself. Lots of people like to use slow release fertilizers. Veggies are heavy feeders; a containerized crop must be fully supported by you.

There are LOTS of great options for you as far as types of veggies. There are some bush bean varieties that do great in pots. What about peppers? I don't know where you are in Tennessee, but you might still have time for some leafy crops, like some of the leaf lettuces or new zealand spinach. Don't forget the herb possibilities! Basil is one that thrives all season long, if you prune the flowers off. Later in the season, when you simply cannot stop the flowering process, it becomes the best honey bee plant!

Don't hesitate to email me directly if you have any questions.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 5:25AM
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zackey(GA 8b)

Malabar spinach grows well in pots and all parts are edible. It produces seeds like crazy.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 9:58PM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

Here is a word of encouragement for you. Tomatoes can actually do better in pots than in the ground, because they are less likely to fall prey to many of the blights that are so commonly found in the soil. You just have to be highly committed to regular watering and fertilizing, because, as rhizo said, it all depends on you.

I have grown cucumbers successfully in pots too, so there's another encouraging word.

Okra is a beautiful plant and will be lovely in a pot. It's highly unlikely, though, that one plant will supply enough pods at once to do much cooking. Not to worry. Just enjoy it for awhile, and when you get tired of it, plant a pepper or eggplant in it, both of which will give you loads of fruit to enjoy. I plant peppers the first week of July each summer and they produce like gangbusters till first frost in mid November here.

If you want to know more, I can highly recommend the book "The Bountiful Container". It is written specifically for people who want to grow edibles in pots. It covers everything a beginner needs to know. The one caution I would give is that the authors garden in the Pacific Northwest, so you need to also inform yourself on gardening in Tennessee. (What will and will not thrive in our hot steamy summers, and the differences in planting seasons, for example.) Nevertheless, it's an excellent resource.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 10:06PM
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I've followed this tomato container advice and it worked well for me....

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomatoes in container

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 1:17AM
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Ooops wrong link...the one above is for in ground...here is the right one..

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomatoes in container

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 1:18AM
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