NJ Rains and Container Gardening, Help?

bandie528(6b NJ)July 1, 2013


It is my first time gardening, and I live in an apartment with a great back porch with full sun, but am not allowed to plant in the ground. So, now, I'm a first time gardener planting in containers!

We've been doing pretty well, but I'm afraid for my tomatoes. They started showing symptoms of overwatering last week, and now... with this week of rain, what can I do to protect them?

I have them in plastic containers with round cages, and today moved all of my plants underneath the upper neighbor's deck. It is a deck though, so I covered the cages with garbage bags to try to prevent too much water reaching them.

I also have been perusing these forums for a week, and have learned that I need to fertilize (didn't know that before). So, how should I go about fertilizing with all of this impending rain?

Please advise.

I have 5 tomato plants: Early Girl, Beef-type Staking, Golden Plums, Romas, and a purple Heirloom. They have all been flowering and setting tomatoes (the beef-type has been the slowest producer with only 2 fruit set, vs 32 on the Roma).

I also have an okra plant that something ate last week (tragic), a bell pepper, a mini bell pepper, a squash that got half eaten last week, sugar snaps I probably planted too late, and 4 different basils.

I'm learning, and would love whatever advice you have on protecting from crazy rain, and how to fertilize when battling overwatering.

Thanks for your advice!

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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

What are your symptoms of overwatering? One of the benefits of containers is that it's usually hard to over- water if they are draining well. What are you using for soil in your containers? For fertilizer you can use something simple like Miracle Gro all purpose liquid, or something similar. I usually fertilize weakly at about 1/4 strength every time I water. This time of year though when plants are growing alot, I up the strength to 1/2. I'm still fertilizing even though it's raining. The garbage bag idea is not so good, and suggest removing them asap!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 6:37PM
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bandie528(6b NJ)


Just upward curling of leaves, some yellowing on bottom branches, and one pot kept popping up with mushrooms for a bit!

For soil I just used Potting Mix, some of them it's the Miracle Gro potting mix, some it's Sta-Green moisture max with fertilizer. Probably a mix of both in some (from BF first planting with not enough soil in too small pots, and then transplanting).

I have pretty tall cages, so the bags don't reach all the way to the pots, but I dumped easily > pint of water out of the bag tops this afternoon, and then another > cup out this evening. So, they still got water, but not the soaking that was possible, and I didn't cover them till like 9:45 am, when the storm was raging.

I already picked up some Vegetable Tone from Espoma, and applied that along the drip lines, and am waiting for the rain tonight to wash that down. If it doesn't, then I will hit with water.

How much rain are you getting up there?

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 9:00PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Ok, yeah so they might be getting a bit too much water, but if the containers are draining ok, they will probably be fine except for a few yellow leaves. We had 9" of rain in June but no yellow leaves 'yet.' Haven't had to water much, but have been sneaking in the fertilizer in order to keep some nutrients in the pot. If I can suggest a water soluble or liquid fertilizer like Miracle Gro or something, it might be better for containers than Tomato Tone because it will instantly be available. Tomato Tone requires time and/or micro organisms to break it down for the plants use. I'm still not a fan of the plastic bag thing. More risk than reward.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 9:57PM
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