Smart pots in Texas

Chelsea_2016(7b)July 14, 2013

Hi all,
I'm considering a whole bunch of smart pots for my spring garden as we'll be moving and plan to keep moving every few years. It'd be nice to take the pots with me as opposed to building raised beds every time we move. I have a couple questions about using them in Texas:

1. I've heard they dry out fast in the Texas heat - should I do larger pot sizes, place the pots on the grass instead of concrete (or on wood slats), rig some kind of special watering system to help with this issue (a hole-punched bottle in each pot to water to the middle)? Put up a shade cloth??

2. What soil mix should I use that's appropriate for this climate?

3. Someone has mentioned root trapper - there are various kinds...which ones have worked the best for you?

Thank you!

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I used smart pots and grow bags (same concept, different manufacturer, Hydrofarm, I think) for my vegetables and herbs this year and they were great. I didn't find they dried out too fast, if anything I had to take care not to over water. They seem to perform better if situated on ground or grass rather than concrete. Their lighter weight was a major plus, even when filled. I mixed half Miracle Grow potting mix and half Miracle Grow potting soil plus a little extra pine mulch for aeration and added a controlled release fertilizer before planting, then followed with dilute soluble feedings once the plants were larger. If I could find pine fines I'd use the 5-5-1 homemade mix everyone writes about on this forum but I just can't locate them. I recommend investing in an inexpensive moisture meter to help you get acquainted with the necessary watering schedule. Also, some plants took up water faster than others so the moisture meter helped me take some of the guesswork out of it. Indeterminate tomatoes I planted one to a 20 gallon container with the cage embedded in it as I filled it with soil at first planting. My tomatoes grew to 7 feet and I had to put extenders on all their cages but nothing blew over (and we had some big time winds this past spring in Houston). The ones by Hydrofarm have stiffer sides and hold their shape better during filling with dirt, but the smart pots seem to retain more moisture so I guess it's a trade off. Spring garden's mostly gone now with the heat but my okra (two plants per 15 gallon fabric pot, 3 pots total) is still going strong. Basil, rosemary, mint, and sage also doing okay. Chives are pouting in the heat but still coming along in a partially shaded area on the patio. I plan on using them for my Fall garden as well. They are nicely portable. I used to have a raised bed garden but it was eradicated by some necessary heavy construction. I really like not having to weed and I can pay more attention to the plants' other needs using the fabric pots. Give them a try and report back on how they worked!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 9:57PM
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I'm in central texas and use smart pots mine are off the ground on wooden stands and they do dry out fast in the summer. If you do a spring and fall garden and forget the hot summer they work fine. I would not use anything less than 15 gallon for spring plants. I've tried 3,5,amd 10 and the smaller the pot the quicker they dry out, I do use 10 in the winter for onions carrots pea pods and greens. Once into spring I use 15 and 20 for tomatoes and peppers. Smart pots now have a tan pot it seems the be a little cooler I like them better than the black. I have been using just potting mix but I think I'll try the mix suggested by SWP above

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 10:06PM
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I probably should have clarified that I used MG potting mix and MG "garden soil for vegetables and fruits" along with a little pine bark mulch. But be careful if the mulch has a lot of ground up wood in it. It will tie up nitrogen and stunt your plants. When I started out I did not know that. I remember thinking there seemed to be a lot of wood in that bag but I was ignorant and didn't listen to my intuition. It took that pot of okra about two months to catch up to its peers, who were planted without that particular bag of mulch mixed in.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 11:13PM
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