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Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Posted by ideal2545 10a (My Page) on
Wed, Feb 22, 12 at 20:40

Hi Everyone,

I have a whole lot of Turface, Granite and Repti-Bark sitting in my garage right now and I was curious if I could just make up some extra gritty mix for some tomato/pepper plants, or if you guys think the 511 mix is just simply better. I plan to use Foilage Pro and then add in some Pro-Tekt later on for some blooming and whatnot.

-Jon


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

I used a modified gritty for tomatoes and peppers last year and it performed well in my zone 6b. I added extra turface for additional moisture retention. I'd think a straight gritty would be a bit lean for a zone 10 summer, but if you're up for the maintenance requirements, the plants will do just fine.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

You could make a modified gritty/5-1-1 hybrid with what you have. The granite will hang onto significantly less water than the more traditional perlite, but you could compensate with a little extra turface. Maybe something like 5-1.5-.5. The resulting mix will certainly outlive your tomatoes, and will probably keep your peppers happy for years to come! Have fun with it!!

PJ


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Thanks guys, it gets pretty hot during the day and pretty dry in late spring/summer, so maybe upping the turface to 2-3 parts would work better.

DaMonkey, are you suggesting something like: 5 parts (repti)bark, 1.5 turface and .5 granite?


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

  • Posted by DWD2 10a, Sunset 17 (My Page) on
    Sun, Feb 26, 12 at 4:32

I suppose you can grow tomatoes or peppers in bark based medias but my expectation is that you will get a FAR from optimal result. If you really want to grow tomatoes in containers, I suggest you check out this link:
http://www.growbetterveggies.com/growbetterveggies/growing-tomatoes-in-pots.html
Cynthia Sandberg is a master tomato and vegetable grower. She grows all the produce for one of the top restaurants in the world, Manresa in Los Gatos, CA. David Kinch, the chef there, was recently named by GQ as the chef of the year.
http://www.gq.com/food-travel/restaurants-and-bars/201112/david-kinch-manresa-restaurant-love-apple-farms-review
The point is Ms. Sandberg is growing tomatoes and other vegetables for some of the most finely tuned palates anywhere. She grows a lot of the tomatoes for Manresa in containers. In addition, since it is a business, she is also interested in high yield. Her system produces both things. Tomatoes with incredibly delicious flavor and very high yield. If you follow her system, your tomato plants will become so big that you must support them with 7 foot tall concrete reinforcing wire cages. The dinky things you get at your local nursery or HD are WAY inadequate. Most of the tomato varieties I have grown with her system in containers have grown well over the 7 foot cage height. Ms. Sandberg grows over 100 varieties of tomatoes at her farm each year with very consistent results. All those that I know about who follow her system closely get similar results. You might note that she does all this organically. The belief is that one will achieve no where near the depth of flavor nor the yield using a non-organic approach such as Foliage Pro. That is not to say FP will not increase yield versus no fertilizer, just that based on experience, Ms. Sandburg's organic system gives a clearly superior result on all counts, taste and yield.
There is an interesting video segment of chef Eric Rupert of Le Bernardin in NYC, visiting chef Kinch and Ms. Sandburg at the farm and then eating a meal that chef Kinch prepares with the produce here:
http://www.aveceric.com/2011/05/13/star-ingredients/
I hope this is useful.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

I've grown peppers and tomatoes in the 5-1-1, and I've also grown a pepper in Gritty Mix.

The pepper in Gritty Mix was damn near pristine, with superb foliage and copious bright pods.
I grew it in a 1-gallon container, more as a deck plant, so I didn't mind watering it every other
day, and occasionally once a day when the temps were in the 90F's or higher.

The tomato in 5-1-1 was a Sungold, a variety I grow every year as a deck plant for easy snacking.
This plant grew to 11 feet tall, and even grew into a Liquidambar tree near my deck. Truly,
the plant produces more fruit than I can possibly eat.

My peppers did quite well in the 5-1-1, being only limited by last year's cool weather and the size
of the containers.

By the time that nutrients are broken down into a form available to the plant, the plant can't tell
the difference between "organic" or "synthetic" nutrients, so I don't get caught up in the Ideological
organic debate.


Josh


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Feb 26, 12 at 15:04

It's not uncommon for some one's expectations to be quite different from reality.

Al


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

  • Posted by DWD2 10a, Sunset 17 (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 27, 12 at 15:48

My post above was meant to be constructive and point people towards additional information that anyone who so desires might consider in making their growing decisions. Everyone can look at greenman28's claim of success and Ms. Sandberg's broadly documented successes (go to the Love Apple Farm web site) and make their own judgements. greenman28 may have documented his success with his Sungold tomato with a post here that I missed. If I missed it, I do apologize and hope he will direct us to that. One plus with the link I provided to Ms. Sandburg's site is that she provides a pretty detailed recipe for growing tomatoes in containers. I have noticed that people looking for help on this site appreciate a clear set of directions. I have never seen a published report of a well designed comparison of these 2 approaches. I did do a comparison last summer comparing a Black Krim in the 511 mix using Foliage Pro to a Black Krim growing using Ms. Sandburg's method. While the difference I observed was stark, I did not document it and it was the type of experiment I call "quick & dirty." I think that until an adequate comparison is done, everyone has to make his/her own judgement.

I agree with greenman28 that a plant can not discriminate between an organically derived nutrient or one produced by a synthetic process. My view is that to stop the comparison of the pluses and minuses of the two approaches at that point is too simplistic. I think there are, at least, two further issues here. The first is what is the impact of the two approaches to plant nutrition on the array of substances contained in the vegetable or fruit. A large number of scientific studies support the conclusion that organic production approaches produce superior vegetables and fruits. This is an area of active, ongoing research & there are controversies. Horticultural science is typically done in systems that are difficult to have experimental designs that are tightly controlled. Two references I have on hand that will get you into the literature should you wish to expand your understanding are:
http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/44/1/12.full.pdf+html
http://phoenix.nal.usda.gov/bitstream/10113/17596/1/IND44083045.pdf
One might anticipate these results since the biochemistry of plants from the 2 growing systems is known to be very different.

A second issue relates to the other chemical entities that are present in the bulk chemicals used to produce synthetic fertilizers. As someone who has been doing or directing biological bench science for over 30 years, I am keenly aware that bulk chemical preparations have a very high level of impurities. These impurities make it impossible to grow even the hardiest mammalian, insect or plant cells in cell culture in growth media made from Technical grade reagents much less industrial grade used in commercial fertilizers. The Fisher Chemical web site shows you the 5 grades of increasingly pure salts they offer for different scientific applications.
http://www.fishersci.com/ecomm/servlet/cmstatic?storeId=10652&href=Scientific/researchAnalytical/ProductsServices/Chemicals/fisher_chemical_salts.jsp&store=Scientific&segment=researchAnalytical
I feel pretty certain that anyone would be taken aback, even appalled, by the list and amount of impurities on the COAs that accompany the bulk chemicals used to manufacture non-organic fertilizers. That impurities are there in significant amounts does not guarantee that any of them end-up in the final fruit or vegetable. But the chance that they do is part of my personal reasoning for choosing to grow my produce organically. I am also aware that using organic products does not ensure that some similar or even more disturbing chemical entities are in an organic product. I do take comfort in the fact that the ORMI certification process is designed to address those concerns. That industry driven certification process bespeaks of manufacturers who want to get it right and inspire trust. Once again, everyone can make their own choices. I am down heartened by greenman28's characterization of this as "the Ideological organic debate." It is clearly a scientific debate and a LOT of excellent plant scientists are actively studying the impact of growing plants organically versus using synthetic reagents. The number of publications in this area are growing each year VERY rapidly. The large majority of the scientific publications I have read on this subject are demonstrating benefits from organic production methods. Anyone who feels this is an "Ideological" debate might spend some time looking through the current scientific literature with an open mind and see if they want to rethink that position.

I am not sure what tapla means by his response to my post. Perhaps he means to be witty. It comes across to me as snide and mean-spirited. I hope I misunderstand his intention. My desire is that we do our best to keep things positive and constructive in these forums. I know I came to the GardenWeb trying to learn and find different options for my garden. Keeping posts on a polite, respectful level is a much more constructive way forward for everyone.

Good luck to everyone with their garden!


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 27, 12 at 16:42

Wow! My post wasn't meant as snide or an attempt at wit. I do think you took a LOT of liberties in your post, though. .... just my opinion.

BTW, a large number of scientific studies also point to the fact there is no discernible difference in taste or quality of fruit grown organically vs fertilized with synthetic fertilizers, but I realize that discussion has no chance of bearing fruit in this case, so I'll refrain from engaging in it. I've observed people on various forums pick & choose their scientific studies to bolster their positions in that debate for years. I'm not the prosecution or the defense - so the jury's still out as far as I'm concerned. The debate may not be ideological, but in my experience, at least on these forums, the prosecution have always been ideologues.

Best to you.

I beg a pardon for straying from the topic, Jon.

Al


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

I don't think success is mutually exclusive to one particular method. As long as you satisfy the plants basic requirements insofar as drainage, aeration, fertility and so forth, it will produce for you. I've used a modified 5-1-1 using mostly organic ferts and achieved excellent results. I post on another forum where a lady (commercial grower) uses a 50/50 mix of peat moss and manure. She grows in 4 gal pots and uses a weekly granular fertilizer regimen (synthetic) with added micronutrients and has amazing success--with pictures to prove it!


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

I should have taken more pictures, truly.
But I've never considered tomatoes very interesting. This season I will try to document a wider range
of the vegetables that I'm growing, rather than just focusing on the hot peppers. I've posted pics here
in the past, but it's easier to just post them fresh to this Thread. I don't consider these pics sufficient
evidence, mind you, since there's nothing for scale - nor can you even effectively see the tomato
scrambling into the Liquidambar and onto the other side of the lattice.

In the garden, I use a no-till, organic approach - and I swear by it.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Josh


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Nice looking plant, Josh. I do love Sungold. It's one of the only hybrids I grow, but I wouldn't be without it. And, you're right, more fruit than you can possibly consume.

DWD - I've visited Cynthia's website in the past. The potting soil she recommends is "a blend of bark, peat, perlite with added earth worm castings, alfalfa meal, sea kelp" with "excellent drainage properties" - maybe not all that different than the 5-1-1?? I applaud anyone who's making the effort to grow sustainably and achieving results like she is. Organic has much merit and deserves much more attention from the academic and research communities. But, IMO, the "add an aspirin and an eggshell" mentality marginalizes "organic" and serves only to inspire snickers from the conventional folk.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Oh wow greenman great pics! What size pot is that? It looks like a 2 gallon?


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Josh,

Amazing!!!!

Those are the most healthy tomato plants i have seen!!!

Strong work...

Laura


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

  • Posted by DWD2 10a, Sunset 17 (My Page) on
    Tue, Feb 28, 12 at 5:52

Josh, that is an impressive Sungold plant! One of my personal favorites too. Congrats and a sincere thank you for the follow-up! Do you have experience with other tomato cultivars? I echo Jon's question too, what is the pot size? 5 gallon? You have a much better result than I got with Black Krim in the 5-1-1 but, as I said before, that was not a thorough comparison. The bottom line is that you got an abundant yield of tomatoes that you & yours were happy with. It seems to me that discussing different approaches that can give people options for getting great results is a primary purpose for this forum.

fortyonenorth - Having used both media, they are very different. My hope is that this summer I will have the bandwidth to do some more detailed characterizations on some of the media discussed here. Being a bit too much a science geek, I've collected several hundred pdfs of scientific publications on subjects important to the Container Gardening Forum. I will try to distill the number down and organize it all in an approachable fashion in the next several weeks and post the links. When you examine the G&B Potting Soil, you will see the percentage of bark (which is composted prior to mixing) in the G&B is less than the 5-1-1 as is the perlite component. The peat component appears to be less too but I am far less sure about that assessment. I know that the G&B mix falls within the generally accepted ranges for container substrates of properties like total porosity, air space, available water, unavailable water, bulk density, etc.
http://horttech.ashspublications.org/content/15/4/747.full.pdf
I do not know what those values are for the 5-1-1 mix. Even if different components were there in equal ratios you still have the complication that there is considerable variation in sources of the components. For instance, a lot of people assume that all moss peat has essentially identical properties. Here is a publication that examines the considerable range of differences in the properties of a collection of moss peats from various locations in Alberta.
http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/42/2/349.full.pdf+html

It turns out the aspirin and eggshell additions are based on very solid science. Salicylic acid (aspirin) activates the enzyme Salicylic Acid-Binding Protein 2 (SABP2) that is involved in activating plants' innate immunity, really defense mechanisms, against pathogens.
http://www.pnas.org/content/102/5/1773.full.pdf+html
It has been demonstrated that plants treated with salicylic acid (aspirin) in a number of different ways have significantly fewer pathogenic infections.
http://biologie.univ-mrs.fr/upload/p189/salicylicreview.pdf
Egg shells in organic container culture have been demonstrated to provide a more constant supply of calcium in container cultures causing plants of the nightshade family to have significantly less blossom end rot of their fruit. (I apologize, but I have searching through my pdfs & seem to have misplaced my references on this point.) If the conventional folk, as you call them, choose to snicker at Cynthia for utilizing egg shells & aspirin, they are only showing how ignorant they are about well established science that allows gardeners to produce better crops. I have taken a few classes with Cynthia and while there are some points I might quibble about with her, she is a very smart, practical person that is interested in growing the best fruits and vegetables possible. In my experience, she does not teach people a method for doing anything until she has careful tested it in the real world. Unlike those of us who grow for fun and pleasure, it is her livelihood.

Al - I have no idea what you mean when you say I took liberties in my previous posts. I would truly like to understand what you mean by that statement.
I agree with you that "a large number of scientific studies also point to the fact there is no discernible difference in taste or quality of fruit grown organically vs fertilized with synthetic fertilizers" except for the word "fact" in your sentence. There are numerous publications reporting results on both sides of the organic/synthetic question. My opinion is that a lot of these studies on both sides of the question are poorly done and the data presented do not support the conclusions of the authors. I have not kept pdfs of most of these references because they are not directed at the plants I am personally interested in growing. I kept the second reference I gave the URL for because it is about blueberries, one of my interests, and I thought it is particularly well done. It is really first rate science in an area that is difficult to do first rate science in. The first reference I offered about this is clearly form someone less likely to be objective. However, I really liked the question that heads one of the sections, "What is crop quality?" and found that discussion to be very thought provoking. I kept it as a brain tickler I could refer back to. My hope is that by providing scientific references to articles I have found useful that people can start to or further delve into the literature to learn, develop their opinions and foster productive discussions. It would not be surprised, when this all gets worked out some years from now, if there are some plants that do better growing organically, some where there is no meaningful difference between the 2 approaches and some where synthetic fertilizers give a better result. One may even see this spread in different cultivars of the same plant. Based on what I have read to date, my opinion is that the large majority of plants are going to give you better out comes when they are grown organically. It could be new work will appear that changes my opinion. Time will tell.

It is unfortunate if prior discussion about this on the GardenWeb has been dominated by ideologues. Perhaps working to discuss scientific publications on this issue offered in support of different positions in thoughtful manners will help things be more productive.

Unfortunately, I again take offense at a comment you directed towards me. Your statement, "but I realize that discussion has no chance of bearing fruit in this case, so I'll refrain from engaging in it." is clearly saying that you dismiss me as being close minded on the subject of organic versus conventional. That statement is very distasteful to me. I have an opinion that I have expressed. I have offered some of my rationale for that opinion and tried to point anyone interested towards publications that provide references to both side of the argument. How in any way does that indicate I am not open to rational, productive discussion on this issue?

Once again, good luck to everyone with their gardens!


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

DWD - I don't doubt that egg shells are a good source of calcium. However, they breakdown and release that element at such an excruciatingly slow rate that they're virtually useless for the next crop. Why not just compost them and use a more dependable, immediately available source of calcium, like lime? In my compost pile, egg shells and wine corks are among the last things to go.

Again, we're quibbling over details. I like organic gardening (yes, even container gardening) and will look forward reading more of your posts.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Hi Jon,
I'm sorry, I totally lost track of this thread...I appologize for the delay.

"DaMonkey, are you suggesting something like: 5 parts (repti)bark, 1.5 turface and .5 granite?"

That is correct, a mix of this composition would work well for you. You may have to tinker a bit to get it right, specifically with the granite to turface ratio, but it would work just fine. This is of course if you so choose to utilize your available ingredients to create a 5-1-1 type mix. However, as stated by the one and only Greenman above...What up Josh!...a true gritty would be a great way to go as well. Either of the two will be outstanding! Its really a matter of choice and convenience to you, depending on your stockpile of materials and environmental conditions. I would even recommend doing some side by side comparisions, so that you can fine tune your mix for the next plants!!

One other thing to consider, I have no idea what your finacial situation is, but if you are going to make a true gritty for numerous large pots, it will get a bit expensive! This is why I choose the 5-1-1, it's just so much cheaper to make! And if you take the time to screen out the fines and substitute turface in for the peat, (and in your case granite for perlite) it will last for a really long time!

Good Luck!

PJ


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

DWD: I and my wife have always grown my vegetables in the past in my sandy soil heavily amended with compost and using organic methods. I always had great results with most plants, except peppers, which never yielded a lot, and tended to mature late. I decided to try them in pots but after much research I decided to not do organic in pots, as most info I found said that organic was very difficult to do in pots. I decided on the 5-1-1 and had incredible results. I also grew in soil organically as well. The peppers in pots were much earlier, healthier and tastier with significant higher yield then the organically grown ones in the ground.

Now I realize this isn't a totally fair comparison, as comparing organic in pots with salts in pots may have been a more valid comparison, but I plan to expand my peppers in pots, and reduce my organic grow in the ground. I may do a few with organic fertilizers in pots this year to do a more valid comparison, but I don't think I could have produced better fruit then I did last year in the pots using salt ferts.

Point I'm making, is I don't think organic is the be all and end all of fruit quality. I still plan to use organic methods in soil for other vegetables that do well for me in the ground, as I think that is a more sustainable practice, but for pots, I plan to keep using 5-1-1 and salt ferts until I can prove to myself otherwise that I can do it better organically. I will say though that bark based potting soil can certainly produce superior vegetables.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

One other thing to consider, I have no idea what your finacial situation is, but if you are going to make a true gritty for numerous large pots, it will get a bit expensive! This is why I choose the 5-1-1,

+1 for this. Not to mention, how much will the containers weigh. The most important take away, for me, from the article which was linked upthread http://www.growbetterveggies.com/growbetterveggies/growing-tomatoes-in-pots.html is the container size she uses, 15 gallon, mininum. It takes alot of turface and granite to fill up one those. What would that tip the scale at? 150, 200 pounds, more? I don't know.

Just something to consider.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

15 gallon? Wow that's huge. I was thinking of trying some tomatoes in pots this year after last year's pepper success, but if they require a pot that large, I may have to limit it to smaller varieties or in the ground. Question is, if I use salt ferts, do I need pots that large? I can see possibly organic, due to it's slow release nature may require larger pots. Has anyone done this comparison?


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

It doesn't take a 15 gal. container to grow good tomatoes. I use whatever I have on hand - generally not smaller than 5 gal. nor bigger than 10 gal. The fives are great for smaller varieties and the tens are big enough for large indeterminates. Peppers do just fine in smaller containers. I plant 2-up in 7 gal grow bags or singles in 3 gal containers.

Capoman - in our cooler zones (I'm 6b) the peppers benefit from the warmer container soil - especially early in the year. I've talked to lots of folks who are amazed at the difference between peppers in pots and peppers in the ground - even those in warmer climes. Also, peppers often need a boost of nitrogen mid-summer. If you're growing organically--or even using 3 month time release--that's the time of year when you're likely to see a shortage. The Foliage Pro-with-every-watering routine doesn't have that shortfall. Not saying you have to go synthetic to grow good peppers. You just have to make sure your available N and the plant's requirements for N are in sync.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 29, 12 at 10:43

A saturated gritty mix, properly made, usually weighs about 25-30% more than a saturated 5:1:1 mix, and only about 20% more than soils like MG and others based on fine particulates.

I use the 5:1:1 mix for tomatoes too - because it's a 1-season deal and I don't reuse the soil. I don't need a soil that lasts indefinitely for short term plant material. I tried growing organically many years ago and simply didn't like the results. I found it to be a much more finicky method, too.

If one feels wonderful success can be had embracing an all organic approach, all the better for that person. I think we're seeing that the out of hand exclusion of the use of well-aerated and fast draining soils based on conifer bark because the expectation is they are considerably inferior to some other method, doesn't fit the conclusions practical experience has afforded those who have pressed them into service.

41N - wine corks from the cork oak (Quercus suber) are very rich in an insoluble lipid polymer called suberin. Suberin is sometimes referred to as nature's waterproofing for plants. The hydrocarbon chains in suberin are very difficult for micro-organisms to cleave; which, since conifer bark is also very rich in suberin, is why it is so stable and makes an excellent choice as the primary fraction of container media ......... and why the wine corks don't break down worth a tink. ;-)

Al


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

15 gallons of water is about 125 pounds. Depending on the mix the actual weight may be more or less than that. Very likely it will be more than 125 pounds. I have a feeling it is not designed to be moved around :)

I find these debates about the best conditions for growing plants to be interesting, educational and sometimes very amusing to see the lengths to which people will go to achieve it.

My own objective that it should be healthy first. For the ornamentals that is probably the only objective. For edible plants/fruits I do want them produce some but I do not really go for enormous production. I just cannot keep up with it. The perfect mix debate often centers around the quantity whether it is the biggest plant or the biggest producer. That is an acceptable target for many but not for me. I try out many different vegetables especially the ones I enjoyed from back home in India and I am often just happy it produced something.

As an anecdote, our neighbor had one tomato plant in a 12 inch clay pot, with some miracle grow soil and left it on the house steps. She would water it once in a while and generally ignore it. It produced about 10 beautiful tomatoes. She was ecstatic. I, on the other hand, am making mixes, checking Ph, adding fertilizers, singing to them, squishing bugs and listening to everyone making fun of me. I do get a lot of vegies of different types and keeps me happy.

Taste wise, a homegrown tomato is likely to be better since it is likely to be picked at the right time. That is if we are comparing with the store bought tomato which spends a good part of its life in boxes. At the same, it is unlikely to be the better compared to whatever part of the world where it grows better/best. Tomato may not be a good example since there are so many varieties adapted to so many places. Peppers are a better example. No matter how hard I try and how many different places I buy, the peppers just do not have the same level of flavor as in tropical regions.

Hi fortyonenorth, I am 40.5 north in Pittsburgh.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

This has been a fascinating discussion and I appreciate everyone's input. I'll be growing peppers for the first time this year, and I'm very excited about trying out both 5:1:1 and gritty mix and comparing the 2. (I'll also be testing mycorrhiza in these containers. Here's our post discussing this project, if anyone's interested! http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/contain/msg0217420026845.html?41)

DWD, the growbetterveggies link was very informative, but I imagine that the size of the containers does have a lot to do with the type of soil and organic/synthetic practices.

"Anything smaller [than 15 gallon containers] will hamper the plant's ability to produce fruit and remain healthy." Really? Then I'm afraid there's no way I can follow her recommendations!

fwiw, there's no "run off" of synthetic fertilizers from my containers, as the drip tray catches all the diluted fertilizer. One concern that I do have is about how the synthetics are manufactured and the environmental effects of the manufacturing process. I'd be willing to spend even twice as much if I could be assured that the fertilizers were made safely. otoh, one can't be certain of the manufacturing practices of so-called "organic" fertilizers.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Dammmm Josh!

That is the size my tomatos were headed to, until teh roots filled the conatiners! I was so mad! I should of used bigger containers.

Just wonderful Pal! GREAT job! I am planning a huge crop this year and staying off of ladders!

Mike


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Hi fortyonenorth, I am 40.5 north in Pittsburgh.

Howdy Tropic. We're over here in Indiana, near the southern tip of Lake Michigan - though my folks are both from the coal mining towns just east of Johnstown.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

fortyonenorth: Thanks for the input. Since I have already determined that 3 gallon pots are optimum for peppers in my garden, I plant to stick with them. That means I have many 5 and 7 gallon containers left that I will try tomatoes in. I do plan to stick with synthetic ferts in containers for now, only testing out organics (mainly fish fertilizer) on a couple for my own experimentation. I already know the synthetics work great in pots.

I was unable to order Foliage Pro in Canada, but had great results with the cheap 24-8-16 MG + added epsom salts and rainwater. Nothing else for the entire season. No deficiencies and great early long lasting bloom. Indoors, I use a multipart formula to allow me to compensate for hard high pH water.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

"my folks are both from the coal mining towns just east of Johnstown."

Small world! My folks are also from that neck of the woods...more up towards Philipsburg though. I have very fond memories of visiting my Grandparents there...my Grandpa was an old school coal miner and WWII vet. Roughneck doesn't even begin to descibe him....

I loved that place.

PJ


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Yes, a very small world indeed. My grandfather on my mom's side was a coal miner. They lived in a small company town called Colver. By the time I was born--or at least from my earliest memories--Grandpap was pretty well taken down by the black lung. They asked a lot of those miners and didn't give much back in return.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

41N and DaMonkey: I cannot claim any heritage here in coal country but I love the place and people. Great to know you both.

Also anyone beyond zone 9 should have no right to complain about anything to do with gardening and that includes the OP. OK, just kidding. It is not that simple.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Hey, guys and gals. Sorry it took so long for me to get back here...work's been busy.
Many thanks to all of you, Fortyone, Ideal, Laura, DWD2, PJ, and Mike...and anyone I missed.

To answer your question: that is a 15-gallon container. That's the standard size I use for tomatoes.
I've seen tomatoes grown in 5-gallon fabric pots, and the plants and the yield were much smaller.

DWD2, I've grown many varieties of tomato, but mostly in-ground. Last year I grew the Black Crim,
in-ground, and it was an awful plant that I won't be growing again. Sure, it was a large plant,
but I wasn't impressed by the durability of the fruit or the taste. Won't be growing it again.


Josh


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

  • Posted by DWD2 10a, Sunset 17 (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 9, 12 at 5:17

fortyonenorth, Yes you can compost the egg shells and that does increase the available calcium. When you put the egg shells directly in the planting something really cool happens. When late fall arrives and the tomato plant dies, if you dissect the root ball, what you find is the egg shells, or what remains of them, surrounded by root. They now feel nothing like an egg shell, very flimsy & rubbery. Whether the plant has sucked out the minerals or the bacteria & fungi in the planting mix did it I do not know. But the calcium is gone.

Capoman, I doubt the problem(s) with growing peppers in your soil is one that we can solve in this forum easily. Still, out of it you got a great result. You tried something else & it worked really well for you. Terrific! One of the really big problems is that there is a considerable difference in soilless media components from place to place. Here in California I am able to purchase organic potting mixes that grow really fantastic veggies, peppers included. The potting mixes in your area are likely distinctly different. As for the taste of produce grown different ways, I have no doubt that one can grow very good tasting produce conventionally. The point I tried to make is that when well designed studies have been done, by either laboratory measurements of the molecules in a particular fruit or vegetable that are associated with a superior product or in blind tastings, organically produced products usually prove superior. It is typically not a case of bad and good, but good and better. A meaningful part of this discussion comes back to the question of how do you go about defining a superior product. I note there is a lot of debate back & forth with a lot of "my way is the best" with no way to resolve the debate. Yet there are clearly taste differences in foods. Wine is a good example. Say you pick an array of Napa cabernets from the same vintage that range in price (a reasonable surrogate for quality) from cheap to very expensive. Uncork them, put them all in paper bags to hide the labels with numbers on them to identify and have a bunch of your friends over for a tasting. Then ask everyone to rate the wines. Having done it many times, everyone gets pretty much the same rating with the more expensive wines always winning. People can taste the difference when you do it side-by-side. I am guessing a major part of why this thread got started is that ideal2545 thinks that supermarket tomatoes are awful & wants to grow something that tastes a LOT better.

Irvjim, If you go back and read Cynthia's post more carefully, you will see she recommends a very specific potting soil. I can buy it for ~$10/bag in my area. One bag fills a #15 pot. I am not a particularly big guy & I have no problem lifting a #15 pot filled with that mix & moving it around. The reason she says that size is the minimum for her method is that she is looking to get each tomato plant to its maximum size & yield. In fact, the 7' concrete reinforcing wire cages cost me more than the pot & potting soil. That does NOT mean you can not grow acceptable yields of fine tomatoes in smaller pots.

Capoman, My guess is that if your goal is to grow a tomato plant in a pot to its maximum size that you need a minimum volume of root ball irrespective of wether you grow conventionally or organically. But, I am unaware of any direct evidence supporting that. It is just my best guess.

ssmdgardener, You do not have to follow her advice to grow good tomatoes. But, I have found following her advice to be very easy. Much, much easier than some of those who have commented above seem to think at first flush. I do hope that the time you took to look at her methods will give you something useful in your future growing experiences.

greenman28, Sorry to hear the Black Krim did not work for you. It does tend to crack & is really sensitive to over watering, but I like mine. If you want to try a different chocolate tomato, try a Paul Robeson. It is a favorite of a lot of folks.

Good luck with your gardens!


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Capoman

Could you tell me what part of Canada are you in? I am in Toronto.
I am trying to source ingredients for the mixes. I found place selling Turface, but $100 is the min.order - not sure if i need that much (yet...). Bark seems to be a problem, ReptiBark is available & I like it, but too pricey for larger amounts. I also found a chicken grit, but they had only only chick (too small) & hen (too large). Could you share where/if you found good source for any of these?
Thank you a lot.

Rina


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

If you go back and read Cynthia's post more carefully, you will see she recommends a very specific potting soil.

She also says you HAVE TO buy the special fertilizer, also made by the same company. What are the odds that these two products, the only ones you can buy that can grow these special tomatoes, are made by the same company? Interesting coincidence!


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

  • Posted by DWD2 10a, Sunset 17 (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 11, 12 at 4:45

buzzsaw8, My post above was to try to put to rest the worry that a 15 gallon pot would be way too heavy filled with a potting mix and very expensive to fill. I believe what Ms. Sandburg means by her statement is, if anyone else wants to get the superb results she gets, she will not guarantee similar results unless they use these particular products. Implicit in your statement (I think) is the notion that there have to be other products that work well too. You would be correct if that is what you are thinking. There is at least one other potting mix, Sunland Natural & Organic Potting Mix, that works as well. At least a couple other all purpose organic fertilizers, Sustane 4-6-4 & Down to Earth 4-6-2, work really well too. The Sunland products & Sustane products are pretty difficult to find. Up until a few months ago, they are what she recommended. In side-by-side trials, she told me the Gardner & Bloome products work at least as well, possibly slightly better. G&B have a big advantage in that those products are widely distributed to nurseries/garden centers at least in the Western US. I am not sure about the Eastern US. She simply seems to be recommending 2 products that are more widely available such that if you find one you've found the other. In a gardening class I took from her, she claimed she spent 5 years searching for a potting soil mix that would give her the results with tomatoes in containers that she gets in her raised beds. She tried a large number of potting soils and amendments. I do not know the list of the things she tried. What I DO know is that her formula works. It works for me in California. It works for my sister in law in Tennessee. It works for everyone I have talked to about it. You get huge plants & tons of tomatoes with terrific flavor.

Is it the only way to grow good tomatoes? Of course not. I personally have a LOT of fun growing tomato plants so big you have to grow them in a 7 foot tall cage made of concrete reinforcing wire. Plants that overwhelm you with great tomatoes. One can readily see that might be a real pain for other people, who are more than happy with a 4 to 6 foot plant, tied up on a wooden stake, that gives a decent yield of good tomatoes. I grow mostly heirloom tomatoes. Others are very happy with hybrids. I now start most of my tomatoes from seeds. A lot of people think I am nuts to do that. My point is the whole process has a LOT of options for how to do it. I was just trying to throw out another option to ideal2545, and anyone else interested, for his tomatoes.

Good luck with your gardens!


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

I have used 511 and my vege's they have always been outstanding. For me at least, the best soil (511) in pots and it is cheaper. One time or another I sat and did the math (posted the info) of the savings (which I cannot find). It was allot. But, where I was sourcing the pines fines raised the price by a buck.

This season I did not use 511 out of laziness, and I think my plants are mad at me about it. Who knows, could be the crazy weather!

Seriously, 511 great stuff for container vege gardening.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

DWD2,

"Based on what I have read to date, my opinion is that the large majority of plants are going to give you better out comes when they are grown organically"

Based on my experience to date, I know that when growing in containers in-organics are far more effective. I even use a hydro-organic fertilizer that has carbonates in it so it is not really full organic at all.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

  • Posted by DWD2 10a, Sunset 17 (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 29, 12 at 3:30

TheMasterGardener1,

We are likely talking about 2 different things. My guess is that, if I valued the factors you use to arrive at your point of view as you value them, we would be in agreement. I think a lot of these "disagreements" come down to the not so easy question of "What is crop quality?" I value exceptional, great, complex taste in my tomatoes as my utmost goal. It is part of the reason I have over 50 varieties coming-up from seeds right now for the different flavors among them. A lot of people might think that crazy. Heck, I sometimes do too. Someone else favors a balance of yield and flavor. While another person primarily cares about high yield with anything that tastes better than a grocery store tomato (and I hope we ALL can agree that beating the taste of a grocery tomato is not too hard to do or as my grandfather used to say, a little bit on top of nothing is a whole hell of a lot).

In the posts above, I tried to provide an entry into the scientific literature on the subject. For instance, when people look at something like anthocyanin levels in tomatoes, they are routinely higher in the organically grown tomatoes in the published data that I have seen. In blind taste tests that I know about with panels of chefs, once again organically grown tomatoes win. As I said above, to my mind it is a question of good versus better for this particular quality in most cases.

I have no idea how to accomplish it, but don't you think many of these discussions would be more productive if everyone tried to briefly define their growing goals and what crop quality was to them?

Good luck with your gardens!


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

"In blind taste tests that I know about with panels of chefs, once again organically grown tomatoes win"
A big reason I use some organics.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

DWD2 Thanks for the interesting, well written posts.
Since you've visited them, I'm curious about the Loveapplefarm.
On the sidebar there is a link to Biodynamic Agriculture they espouse. Since no mention of the BD preps is made with their tomato production, did you see what crops they use them on?
As for plants not being able to tell the difference where they get their nutrients from may be true but those that taste them surely can.
As soon as I figure out how to post images here, I will post the image of my 8ft and growing Chadwick Cherry that was taken June 15th 2010 in my Zone 6 backyard in a 12 gallon fake half whiskey barrel. That tomato that went on to produce well over 250 1-2oz fruits over that Summer and was only halted when my neighbor couldn't water for me on a hot August day while I was vacationing.
The soil was a mixture of sharp sand, homemade compost, finely ground charcoal, Miracle Gro potting mix and my secret ingredient for additional taste.
The charcoal spent a season in the compost pile.
Incidently, my same neighbor was the recipient of that tomato's next of kin and he grew it in regular garden soil fertilized with Miracle Gro (or Ozmocote, don't quite recall). Without my secret ingredient that tomato produced flat, watery tasting fruit that was in stark contrast to the wonderfully complex flavor mine had.
OK, OK I'll share my secret, banana peels! about a dozen or so, fresh and dried and maybe a whole too soft banana just for laffs.

ideal2545 I guess you can see theres more than one way to grow just about anything.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

"Incidently, my same neighbor was the recipient of that tomato's next of kin and he grew it in regular garden soil fertilized with Miracle Gro (or Ozmocote, don't quite recall). Without my secret ingredient that tomato produced flat, watery tasting fruit that was in stark contrast to the wonderfully complex flavor mine had.
OK, OK I'll share my secret, banana peels! about a dozen or so, fresh and dried and maybe a whole too soft banana just for laffs"

Calcium/ Magnesium in the peals made the difference.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

  • Posted by DWD2 10a, Sunset 17 (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 31, 12 at 3:56

Spaceman21, You are welcome. I hope the posts are helpful.
I have not payed attention to the details of the Biodynamic methods used at Love Apple Farms. There is a course on it taught there but it is down my current priority list. I buy a fair bit of wine and biodynamically produced wine is becoming very common around the world. Right or wrong, there appears to be a lot of money making a bet on it.
There are a number of people on these forums who are quick to point out that a plant can not differentiate between an organically provided mineral or one provided with a conventional fertilizer. They are completely correct that a calcium ion or nitrate ion is the same irrespective of source. But what is going on in the plant is very different in those two circumstances. Below is a reference where the gene expression in organically grown wheat is compared to that in conventionally fertilized wheat. BIG, BIG differences in the expression profiles. The organically grown wheat has a much more complex pattern. To be sure, that does not prove you get a superior tasting and nutritional wheat from organic production. But, when mammalian responses to non-toxic flavors & odorants have been examined, complexity is preferred. Anyway, anyone who wishes can look at the reference and decide if they want it to color their thinking.
http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/272/1575/1901.full.pdf+html
Your secret ingredient is a hoot! I will have to give it a try on a plant or two this year. TheMastergardener1 is on top of it too. Aren't bananas rich in potassium too?

Good luck with your gardens!


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

"Aren't bananas rich in potassium too? "
Yes!!!!


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Lots of information in these posts. It would be great if there was an FAQ that said something like National Brand G is equivalent to local brand H or local brands Q, R, S and T are essentially the same. For instance, I'd like to know if there is an equivalent to the potting soil mentioned by DWD2.

Having grown some tomatoes in 5 gallon pots last year (I ran out of regular pots and money), I can tell you that at least it worked on some level here in New Hampshire.

This year I'm going to be growing only in pots and relatively few at that; 15 at most. I think I'll be haunting this thread for a while. I haven't even started my seeds yet though I will later on this week. My last frost date is 5/25.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Thanks DWD for all this information especially the links and the eggshell information.

Thanks Spacesman for the banana secret.

Eggshells and bananas are going into my containers this year.

My own unscientific tastings prefer organic grown tomatoes and lettuce.

My own focus is to grow in containers with no purchased mixes or fertilizers.

Here is a link that might be useful: All natural versus synthetic


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Well I for one am sure gonna try Al's mixes on some 'maters this year. I want to see how the taste will compare to the mixes I've tried. Purely subjective I know. One thing I won't do is put that Chadwick Cherry in a pot, it's just too rambunctious and you have to prune it severely to keep it manageable.
I never seem to have the time or heart to prune.
On the topic of chem vs organic I saw a film years ago at Ohio University of a plants root absorbing a colloidal size particle of compost.
Seeing that I think it's not just about NPK and trace elements.
Anyhoo there's plenty of banana peels in my compost, charcoal, egg shells and coffee grounds too. Mostly its lawn clippings(notice I didn't say grass) and saved leaves from Fall.
Funny that those egg shells make it through the composting pretty much intact, I never see them again in my pots or soil though.
The charcoal, I believe, helps micro-organisms find shelter, like a reef, and make the soil FERTILE.
Fertility is the amount of life in the soil is it not?
The good people at Cornell U seem to think that burying carbon this way can remove carbon from the atmosphere for thousands of years.
Whether or not you agree with the AGW theory or not, you can't disagree that we humans are awfully good at transferring carbon from the earth to the air.
Making a small amount of carbon in my retorts each Winter probably doesn't impact my total carbon output that modern life enables me to, yet I feel good about it and the plants I grow certainly do.
I see the biggest effect of charcoal in my containers where it's easy to get 20-30% charcoal by volume.
It takes a LOT of charcoal to influence my raised garden beds. Maybe one 4'X4'X 1' bed has 5%?

I'll try a 5-1-1-1-1 in at least one container this season. The extra ingredients charcoal and compost.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

What kind of charcoal do you use - I know you can buy some at aquarium supply stores/pet stores, but that would be expensive? So can you use any kind of charcoal?
Thnx. Rina


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 3, 12 at 8:12

FWIW - the taste of tomatoes grown in containers has more to do with watering habits than what type of soil or fertilizer you use.

Eggshells are almost 100% CaCO3, which is virtually insoluble at the pH levels we grow at. I've added eggshells to the garden, compost, and containers; never did they seem to change size/shape or get rubbery over the course of a growth cycle or two. As far as roots embracing the eggshells ...... they 'seem to' embrace all large particulates in the soil structure - especially bark and prills of controlled release fertilizers, like Osmocote. If eggshells WERE soluble, there might be considerable DISADVANTAGE in adding them to soils without also adding an appropriate measure of Mg. When the ratio of Ca:Mg gets significantly out of balance, an antagonistic deficiency develops, making it more difficult for the plant to assimilate one element when the other is present in excess. Where pH levels support it's use, the best way to get Ca to plants is via dolomitic (garden) lime. Bone meal also breaks down so slowly it's chemical benefits are insignificant in containers, and structurally it can't be considered a plus.

BTW - more often than not, the BER we so often associate with a Ca deficiency is a physiological issue related to growth rate, not an actual Ca deficiency related to a scarcity of that element. Whenever this is the heart of the issue, adding 'extra' Ca has no potential to be beneficial; it only has the potential to be limiting. The same is true of any element dissolved in the soil solution. Fortunately, CaCO3's (eggshells') extremely limited solubility trumps what could otherwise be a potential problem.

If you add a banana peel to your soil, how much K are you supplying? Does your plant NEED the extra K? If it doesn't, the additional K has only the potential to be limiting, not beneficial. Many of you are operating on the premise that 'more of anything' is a good thing. It's not. If the plant has any element in the soil available at levels high enough to satisfy the plant's needs, there is only the potential to LIMIT in adding more. If a plant needs the extra K that might be found in a banana peel, it needs it now, not 3 months from now when the breakdown of the fruit's molecular structure is at its peak and the amount of K it's contributing is as unknown as the need for more K.

Al


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Thanks for breaking it down, Al.
Very helpful, indeed.

Josh


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

The fact that someone said the ONLY thing different in the fertilizer program was banana peels, and if this is really true then the lacking Ca/Mg in miracle would of been what I thought.

BTW- I do not think using banana peels in containers is a good idea, that is quite obvious if you read back on my view of fertilizer for containers.....

So lets take a step back now because I really have to do this.....

"Incidently, my same neighbor was the recipient of that tomato's next of kin and he grew it in regular garden soil fertilized with Miracle Gro (or Ozmocote, don't quite recall). Without my secret ingredient that tomato produced flat, watery tasting fruit that was in stark contrast to the wonderfully complex flavor mine had.
OK, OK I'll share my secret, banana peels! about a dozen or so, fresh and dried and maybe a whole too soft banana just for laffs"

Not once was a specific time period stated when they added the peels, they could of added them 3 months before the plant started producing fruit........

Again, "I do not think using banana peels in containers is a good idea, that is quite obvious if you read back on my view of fertilizer for containers"


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Nice guys! What I was refering to was that adding banana peels to my soil, container or no, improved the flavor of my tomatoes. No science necessary.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

I believe it. I understand the peels need to break down to become usable to the plant. That is why it is not ideal.


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RE: rina

rina, sorry I missed your msg. One reply has already been lost.
Try Cowboy brand. I've used them in the past and bought natural briquettes at $3/20 lb bag. HD was clearing them out. Briquette were made with corn starch tho I don't see them on their site now.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cowboy


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TheMasterGardener1

It beats me what is going on with those banana peels.
I think I read about it in the letters section of Mother Earth News decades ago. The article said to use dried banana peels. If you start saving them now you should have plenty by planting time. Of course they'll be dry too because they'll rot if you don't dry them. What suprised me was that they actually tasted better than ones that had none at their root balls.
Purely subjective, and your mileage may vary.
Thanks for trying to explain it Al. Sometimes this old brain can't get a handle on science though.

Strange that you can still see eggshells after they're in the soil. Maybe your plants are so well fertilized, they ignore the shells. Usually only bones and charcoal persist in my garden.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

"Of course they'll be dry too because they'll rot if you don't dry them. What suprised me was that they actually tasted better than ones that had none at their root balls."

So if it was the ONLY thing you did different....

"Thanks for breaking it down, Al.
Very helpful, indeed.
Josh"

What?


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Spaceman

thnx, no problem - I do not expect immediate answer...we have other things to do too, right?
You took time & I appreciate.

Rina


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 4, 12 at 11:27

"It beats me what is going on with those banana peels."

It's not unusual for a prejudice to influence perception. Often, when we expect a certain result it seems that we tend to form our perceptions to fit our expectations. I suppose the psychological reason for that is no one wants to be wrong or feel their efforts might have been in vain.

Something interesting - I recently read about a tomato 'taste test' where a half bushel of tomatoes were picked from two vines growing adjacent to each other. The tomatoes were the same variety and mixed together after being picked. Half the tomatoes were placed in and served from a plastic tub with a Kroger (grocery store) emblem on it for taste sampling. The other half were served from a peck-size basket made of wood. The participants were told nothing about the tomatoes, but they all saw the container from which the tomatoes were taken. Each of the 10 people sampling the tomatoes said those from the wooden basket tasted better.

We see similar 'results' reported all over all over the forums, attributed to causes more likely impossible than improbable. Often the reports are relatively harmless, but equally often they carry the likelihood of expectations raised w/o warrant. Unfortunately, the wake left after trying to shed some light on the issue is often turbulent.

Al


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

"Something interesting - I recently read about a tomato 'taste test' where a half bushel of tomatoes were picked from two vines growing adjacent to each other. The tomatoes were the same variety and mixed together after being picked. Half the tomatoes were placed in and served from a plastic tub with a Kroger (grocery store) emblem on it for taste sampling. The other half were served from a peck-size basket made of wood. The participants were told nothing about the tomatoes, but they all saw the container from which the tomatoes were taken. Each of the 10 people sampling the tomatoes said those from the wooden basket tasted better. "

I can sum this up.....

So you are doubting Spaceman21?

You must have just "thought" they tasted better, clearly there is just no way......

Wait....Spaceman21, were they from a wooden basket ? That would have made them taste different...hahahahaha

;)


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 4, 12 at 18:47

Please don't put words in my mouth. I was making a general observation that may or may not explain the perceived difference in taste. What I mentioned is a common affliction of man in general; and by the way you've been conducting yourself, you in particular.

Al


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

All I said was I do not think using banana peels would be a good choice for a container, but it may be the peels that made a difference. If they were dry maybe they broke down faster.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Wouldn't it be hilarious if MG turned out to be Al's alter ego pen name??? LOL!!!

Unfortunatly, you can't make this stuff up....

Ahhh, if we were only so lucky....


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

No offense taken,..... I think.
I once grew a tomato plant next to my strawberry patch.
When the tomatoes starting coming in I took the first few in to my coworkers. Upon tasting one, my bud exclaimed " Wow, these taste like strawberries!" THEN I told him of their proximity to the strawberries. He then demanded I that I bring in tomatoes from "the strawmater plant" each week.
This was 30 years ago and while I remember this incident like yesterday, I can't remember that strawmater taste!


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix? sad

Now I'm sad. That memory I posted caused me to jump on Google Maps and check the old place out. My house is boarded up and there's junk cars all over my old strawberry patch. That was a great garden, what a waste!


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

  • Posted by DWD2 10a, Sunset 17 (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 4, 12 at 21:30

4Hleader, I agree it would be great. I would not be surprised if there are equivalent potting soils, but I know of no simple way to determine it. Sadly, there is virtually no consumer pressure for even remotely adequate labeling on commercial potting soil. To make matters worse, not only is there considerable variation between brands, there is even meaningful variation within brands. There are standards published by the horticulture group at North Carolina State University who I think are the Harvard or Stanford of horticultural scientists. These standards are sadly not followed by the industry. The following references show you the degree of variation out there:
http://horttech.ashspublications.org/content/15/4/752.full.pdf
http://horttech.ashspublications.org/content/16/1/7.full.pdf
For the time being, one is left with trying different brands in his/her own tests & determining what works best for your own hands.

tapla, So watering is the major determinate of tomato taste? Can you provide some published support for that statement? Here is one clear example demonstrating that how you grow a tomato has a clear-cut effect on what is in the tomato.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889157505000633
I do not think it is unreasonable to suppose that is almost certainly going to translate to a taste difference. Of course, everyone is free to come to his/her own conclusion.

I suggest you think more broadly about possible mechanism where egg shells could have a benefit. I do not know if the use of egg shells is a cure (preventative really) for BER or positive nutritional supplement. My feeling is the egg shells may be a useful part of the regime I use to grow tomatoes. Neither I, nor anyone that I have direct knowledge of their results, have encountered BER in their tomato growing using the method developed by Cynthia Sandburg. I note there seem to be a lot of people coming to the GardenWeb looking for help with BER using other methods. Are egg shells responsible in part or completely for the result I see? I do not know and I do not have the time to test it in any meaningful way. I spend my professional time in science in pursuit of other goals. I suggest one thing worth considering is there may be certain growth conditions where egg shells are helpful in reducing/eliminating BER and some sets of conditions where egg shells are less helpful or ineffective. The regime I use puts a handful of crushed egg shells in the planting hole. I also add a preparation of mycorrhizae and rhizobacteria. At the end of the season last Fall when I removed my plants from their pots, I dissected several of the root balls. What I observed was the egg shells were engulfed in root. When I pulled the root away and examined the shells, they were very different than when they were placed in the planting hole. The egg shells now had no stiffness and seemed lighter. I got some egg shell pieces as close to the same size as I could that were in the bag these came from for the planting. Upon weighing, it appeared ~90% of the egg shell weight had been lost. I dissolved the 2 sets of egg shells in acid to solublize the calcium carbonate and used a colorimetric test titrating with EDTA to quantitate the calcium. The egg shells that were removed from the plant roots had calcium just at the low limit of detection. The egg shells that had not been with a tomato plant had at least 1000 fold more calcium. It was a quick & dirty test to be sure. My working hypothesis is the calcium from those egg shells ended-up in the plant. I will point out that Ms. Sandburg grows exclusively for one of the most acclaimed restaurants in the world. If either the quality or the quantity of her products were not world-class, chef Kinch from Manresa would go elsewhere in an instant. There appears to be no shortage of extraordinary growers in Northern California competing for high-end restaurants as customers if one is to believe the Food column in the San Francisco Chronicle. I do not think it a fallacy of logic to believe that affords her and her methods considerable credibility.

You make the statement, "If eggshells WERE soluble, there might be considerable DISADVANTAGE in adding them to soils without also adding an appropriate measure of Mg. When the ratio of Ca:Mg gets significantly out of balance, an antagonistic deficiency develops, making it more difficult for the plant to assimilate one element when the other is present in excess." It takes pretty high levels of calcium to cause toxicity. So, the "DISADVANTAGE" eludes me. As to the "Ca:Mg ratio" and "antagonistic deficiency" you bring up, I spent a couple of hours searching through my copy of Marschner's Mineral Nutrition of Higher Plants, which everyone I know in the world of plant biology assures me is the tome on plant nutrition they all depend on, and I can find no mention of any such relationship between calcium and magnesium in plants. Can you supply a scientific reference that demonstrates this please? What I can find is that the uptake of Ca can be inhibited by Mn that is present at very high (toxic) levels. For instance see:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0044328X78801044
There are other examples of high levels of one mineral affecting levels of another. But, outside of normal nutritional ranges, I can find no science demonstrating a Ca:Mg ratio that must be maintained to prevent an "antagonistic deficiency." Once again, I'd love to see a reference.

BER is caused by calcium deficiency in the distal fruit tissues of tomatoes. Perhaps this review will help everyone's understanding.
http://aob.oxfordjournals.org/content/95/4/571.full.pdf+html
There are several mechanisms discussed in this review that can lead to a calcium deficiency in the distal fruit tissue. The calcium deficiency need not be caused by a low level of Ca in the growth media, but a calcium deficiency in growth media was exactly how calcium's role in BER was first demonstrated. Your statement about BER, "BTW - more often than not, the BER we so often associate with a Ca deficiency is a physiological issue related to growth rate, not an actual Ca deficiency related to a scarcity of that element." May be confusing to other readers. As the authors of the review put it, "...BER appears to be unrelated to plant growth rate per se. However, BER does appear to be related to fruit growth rate and/or potential fruit size among cultivars..." So, for clarity, plant growth rate is not a determinant, fruit growth is.

Your statement, "adding 'extra' Ca has no potential to be beneficial" is incorrect too. As the authors point out in the review I provided above, foliar application of Ca to young tomato plants can be used to help prevent BER. I direct you to the beginning of the final paragraph where the authors state,
"In a horticultural context, BER can be considered simply as a symptom of Ca deficiency in the distal fruit tissue during rapid cell expansion. Thus, BER in a tomato crop can be minimized by spraying Ca onto young tomato fruit (Fig. 5; Wilcox et al., 1973; Ho, 1998a; Schmitz-Eiberger et al., 2002). In the glasshouse, this treatment prevents BER more effectively than other current horticultural practices, such as the manipulation of the mineral composition of the feed (e.g. lower N supply) or the growth environment (e.g. lower canopy transpiration), because it increases the Ca concentration of distal fruit tissues directly. However, this treatment can only be effective when regular Ca sprays are targeted to young fruit before any symptom of BER is observed."

Relative to Spaceman21's observation about adding banana peels to his tomato growth media, I suggest one can think a bit more broadly here too. Why does the result he reports have to be due to potassium or calcium or magnesium or any other mineral present in the peel? Could the improvement he sees be due to some other substance(s) in the banana peel? That is certainly a viable hypothesis to my mind. I appreciate Spaceman21 throwing it out there and do not dismiss his observation.

Good luck with your gardens!


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Hi rina

I'll try to post what I lost yesterday. The charcoal I've seen from aquariums and water filters is very hard and durable. The charcoal I make from firewood waste in my retorts is usually quite soft and crumbly. Even though both are obtained from hardwood, I think the aquarium/water filter type is fired at a much higher heat. Charcoal suitable for garden use is said to be be fired at lower temperatures.
Apparently the Cowboy brand no longer makes briquettes. They had the advantage of dissolving into glop when soaked or crumbling when seasoned in the compost pile. Lump charcoal has to be ground into 1/4" size pieces or less, which is a dirty, messy, potentially hazardous job.
Check out the link below:

Here is a link that might be useful: Gardening with Biochar


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RE: Al and DWD2

You fellas are both terrific.
I think Al is absolutely correct though, how does one quantify taste? I posted with "totally subjective and YMMV"
DWD2 smacks it outta the park too as we've seen evidence of plants consuming colloidal sized particles.
If plants can do that, they aren't limited to simple chemical exchange.
"Now I want a clean fight, no eye gouging, head butting or shorts yanking. Let's shake hands, go back to your corners and come out swinging!"
Have a good night.


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re: ber

BER?
Bananas Eggshells Rock?
Bury Eggshells Routinely?
Blast Effect Radius?


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Duh.
blossom end rot
time for bed.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

  • Posted by DWD2 10a, Sunset 17 (My Page) on
    Thu, Apr 5, 12 at 0:28

I like the Bananas Eggshells Rock although others may reasonably say Bananas Eggshells Ridiculous.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Apr 5, 12 at 14:42

It's unfortunate if (the late) Dr Horst Marschner's work doesn't discuss antagonisms, but obviously that doesn't mean they don't exist. I added the most recent (3rd) edition to my library last summer after a long and unexpected printing delay. I've long recognized it as a definitive source of information about plant nutrition.

Insofar as antagonisms between Ca:Mg, please consider:

"Magnesium deficiency symptoms may be associated with an antagonistic relationship between magnesium ions (Mg2+) and other cations such as hydrogen (H+), ammonium (NH4 +), calcium (Ca2+), potassium (K+), aluminum (Al3+), or sodium (Na+). The competition of magnesium with other cations for uptake ranges from highest to lowest as follows: K>NH4+>Ca>Na. These cations can compete with magnesium for binding sites on soil colloids, increasing the likelihood that magnesium will be leached from soils after it has been released from exchange sites. Within the plant, there are also antagonistic relationships between other cations and magnesium regarding the affinity for various binding sites within the cell membranes, the degree of which is influenced by the type of binding site (lipid, protein, chelate, etc.), and the hydration of the cation. These biochemical interactions result in competition of other cations with magnesium for absorption into the roots and translocation and assimilation in the plant."

Additionally:

"High rhizosphere concentrations of calcium, relative to magnesium, are inhibitory to the absorption of magnesium and vice versa. the early 1900s, the importance of proper ratios of magnesium to calcium in soils was emphasized through studies conducted by Loew and May on the relationships of lime and dolomite. High calcium concentrations in solution or in field soils sometimes limit magnesium accumulation and may elicit magnesium deficiency symptoms. In tomato, the magnesium concentration in shoots and fruits decreased as the calcium fertilization rate increased. Similarly, it was shown that increased calcium concentrations inhibited magnesium uptake in common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). On the other hand, decreased accumulation of calcium in birch was directly correlated with the decreased absorption and accumulation of calcium as magnesium fertilization rates increased. The absorption of calcium decreased from 1.5 to 0.3 mmol g-1 root mass as magnesium fertilization increased. Morard et al. reported a strong antagonism between calcium and magnesium, suggesting that calcium influenced magnesium translocation to leaves. Optimum leaf Ca/Mg ratios are considered to be approximately 2:1; however, Ca/Mg ratios >1:1 and <5:1 can produce adequate growth without the expression of magnesium deficiency. In a study with tomato, the root, stem, and leaf calcium concentrations decreased as fertilization rates increased from 0.50 to 10.0 mM Mg in solution culture. Similarly, with woody ornamentals, high fertilization rates of calcium relative to magnesium inhibited the accumulation of magnesium and decreased root and shoot growth, and inversely, high magnesium decreased calcium accumulation and plant growth .......

In containerized crop production, general recommendations indicate sufficient calcium and magnesium additions to produce an extractable Ca/Mg ratio of 2:5. Navarro et al. reported an antagonist effect of calcium on magnesium accumulation in melon (Cucumis melo L.), regardless of salinity levels imposed by sodium chloride. In other studies, it was shown that even with the use of dolomitic lime, magnesium deficiency might occur. This occurrence is due to the different solubilities of magnesium carbonate (MgCO3) and calcium carbonate (CaCO3) in the dolomite. [We discuss this issue on this forum frequently] Therefore, during the first 4 months, both magnesium and calcium solubilized from the dolomite. However, after 4 months, all of the magnesium had dissolved from the dolomite, leaving only Ca from the CaCO3 available for dissolution and availability to the plant. Based on these studies, it appears that the use of solid calcium and magnesium fertilizers with similar solubility rates may be important so that both elements are available in similar and sufficient levels throughout the entire crop production cycle."

Let's not take what I said out of context, or expand the conversation to include foliar feeding with soluble forms of Ca when the conversation is about eggshells in the soil. What I ACTUALLY said is, "BTW - more often than not, the BER we so often associate with a Ca deficiency is a physiological issue related to growth rate, not an actual Ca deficiency related to a scarcity of that element. Whenever this is the heart of the issue, adding 'extra' Ca has no potential to be beneficial; it only has the potential to be limiting. The same is true of any element dissolved in the soil solution. Fortunately, CaCO3's (eggshells') extremely limited solubility trumps what could otherwise be a potential problem", which is 100% accurate, no matter how it's diced.

More to consider:

Carolyn J. Male, Ph.D., is a retired professor of microbiology from the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York.

You might find what she says about BER very enlightening - I did:

"Blossom End Rot (BER) is one of the most common tomato problems seen in the early part of the season. It is a physiological condition, not a disease caused by a fungus, a bacterium or a virus. Therefore it cannot be treated. And as I'll explain below, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to prevent.

BER has nothing to do with the blossoms, it refers to the fact that at the end of the tomato opposite the place where the tomato is attached to the stem, called the stem end, is the bottom of the tomato, which is called the blossom end. You often can see remnants of the blossom attached to that end as the tomato forms. At the blossom end one sees a flattened area that looks leathery and initially brown and then black, as the fruit rots.

BER is said to occur when there is uneven watering, drought, heavy rainfall, excessive nitrogen fertilization, rapid plant growth or root pruning during cultivation, high winds and rapid temperature changes. So lots of conditions have been associated with BER. But the rapid plant growth and nitrogen fertilization are both common to conditions seen early in the season, and indeed, that is when most BER occurs. Then it usually just goes away.

BER occurs because under the conditions just stated, Ca++ moves from the fruit into the vasculature (stems) of the plant. Or, some feel that Ca++ never reaches the fruits because under stress demand for Ca++ exceeds supply. This lowered amount of Ca++ is what causes BER. Excessive rates of transpiration (kind of like sweating in humans) also is involved in Ca++ displacement. Thus, the plant as a whole is NOT Ca++ deficient, the Ca++ has just been displaced. Many books and magazine articles tell you that by adding Ca++ in the form of lime or eggshells, for instance, that you can prevent BER. That does NOT appear to be true. University field trial experiments have so far failed to show that BER can be prevented by addition of Ca++. Peppers and many cole crops are also susceptible to BER and there's quite a bit of literature on BER and Ca++ for those crops also. The results are the same; addition of Ca++ does not prevent BER.

Some data strongly suggests that foliar spraying with Ca++ is of no use because not enough gets to the fruits to do any good. And it's known that the sprays for fruits that are sold are useless. No molecules can get across the fruit epidermis. If they did, just what do you think would happen to the fruits when it rained.

Not all varieties of tomatoes get BER. Some never do, others are horrible. That's not surprising since certainly there are slight physiological differences between varieties. After all, almost all garden tomatoes, with the exception of the currant tomatoes are in the same genus and species, Lycopersicon lycopersicum. And we humans are all in the same species, Homo sapiens, var. sapiens....and look how different some of our physiologies are. Whoa!

So, BER is a physiological condition, cannot be cured, and current literature data suggests it cannot be prevented. It occurs on some, but not all varieties of tomatoes, is usually seen early in the season and then stops, for most folks. It would be nice to say that you could even out your watering, prevent droughts and heavy rainfalls, ensure even and not rapid growth of plants and not disturb the roots by shallow cultivating. But on a practical basis, I think we all know that's almost impossible. So, BER has never bothered me, I just ignore it, and it goes away with time.

Adding Ca++ to soils that are Ca++ deficient makes sense, but few soils are. And if soils are acidic, Ca++ is not taken up well but addition of Epsom Salts to the soil can aid in Ca++ uptake in such acidic soils.

Many folks add Ca++ and then see that BER disappears. What they fail to realize is that BER is going to go away anyway, as the season progresses. And that's because as the plants get larger they are better able to handle the many stresses that can induce it. So one cannot correlate addition of Ca++ to disappearance of BER. Universities have done so many studies on this already because BER is a billion dollar problem in the commercial veggie industry.

Of all the stresses that can induce BER the two that are most under control of the home gardener are fertilization and water delivery. That is, too much fertilizer causes plants to grow too rapidly and is perhaps one of the major causes of BER developing. Too rich soils do the same thing. Plant growth simply outstrips the ability of Ca++ to get to the fruits.

Mulching to help ensure even delivery of water can also be done and is also one of the two major causes, in my humble opinion, of BER. BER appears usually on half ripe fruits but also can appear on grass green ones. Lack of Ca++ only occurs at the blossom end of the fruit and it causes tissue destruction which leads to that papery grayish/blackish lesion appearing. Now sometimes that lesion opens up and fungi and bacteria enter and that causes the rotting and also the appearance of fungal growth on and in the lesion.

Just pick off any BER fruits that appear and soon the next fruits to ripen will BER-less.

Many books, magazine articles and websites still say to add Ca++ as lime, eggshells, etc, and seem not to be aware of all the research that has been done in the last 20 years. But many books, magazine articles, are now sharing this newer information about addition of Ca++ not being able to either prevent or cure BER except in rare situations of low Ca++ soils or acidic soils.

I suppose it will take another generation for the right information to be present everywhere. And from my own experience I can tell you that there will be folks who will get madder than can be when they read this kind of info because they simply believe otherwise. So be it. Addition of modest amounts of Ca++ aren't' harmful, but I feel strongly that folks should know what's going on with past and current research re BER and Ca++.

Carolyn
NY, Zone 4/5"

Yes, watering habits have a significant impact on flavor. Most of us realize, and the idea is well supported, that over-watered plants can generally be counted on to yield irriguous fruit with uninspiring flavor. Commonly, over-watering is the main source of dissatisfaction with the flavor of containerized plants. Since I started growing in a soil based on larger particulates (the 5:1:1 mix), which makes it very easy to manage the waterlogging usually associated with the type of soils you advocate (based on fine particulates), I've been unable to differentiate between the flavor of my container-grown tomatoes and those grown in the ground.

I don't want to seem petty, but since you're taking everything I say apart, it's only fair that we consider how interesting it is that someone would come to a forum and immediately discount methods that have proven extremely effective to so many, and advocate for what appears to be a return to something so similar to what the many I referred to have left behind. Many of us, myself included, regularly have tomato vines that grow well over the top of our tomato cages. My tomatoes are healthy, grow well above the top of my 6' fence year after year - so to the 9-10 ft mark, and offer excellent crop yields and flavorful fruit ..... which is far from your "expectation .... that you will get a FAR from optimal result(s) [using bark-based media]. You should also note that that statement is incongruous with the practical experience of many of the other thread participants as well.

Finally, I can't even imagine putting myself out on a limb by offering something like, "If you follow her system, your tomato plants will become so big that you must support them with 7 foot tall concrete reinforcing wire cages." Really? I'm wondering if you didn't consider any of the myriad 'what ifs' that popped into my head immediately upon reading that promise - like what if you over/under fertilize/water, have too much/too little sun, get burdened with plants that are/have become diseased ...... And does your friend really grow all the produce for the restaurant you mentioned? Perhaps, but probably not?

Al



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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

"Yes, watering habits have a significant impact on flavor. Most of us realize, and the idea is well supported, that over-watered plants can generally be counted on to yield irriguous fruit with uninspiring flavor. Commonly, over-watering is the main source of dissatisfaction with the flavor of containerized plants"

Yes very true. Well said.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Carolyn J. Male, Ph.D., is a retired professor of microbiology from the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York.

And one might add, Carolyn is the grande damme of tomatoes. She, quite literally, wrote the book.

DWD - what's your issue with Al? I had hoped you would contribute to the forum some interesting information from an organic perspective. Unfortunately, you seem more interested in calling into question what Al has to say on any matter--regardless of the merits of the argument.


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

41N, the answer to that question was actually just answered by Carolyn, via Al, above.

"And from my own experience I can tell you that there will be folks who will get madder than can be when they read this kind of info because they simply believe otherwise. So be it."

Aye, so be it....

PJ


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Hi There! This is my first posting so hope all of the truly fantastic and knowledgeable experts out there take pity on me! I have followed this thread for quite awhile now and cannot begin to acknowledge all the incredible education I've received. One question I cannot seem to find an answer to though: everything I have ever read says to wait AT LEAST one week after adding lime (any type) before planting, at least veggies. Since the 5-1-1 calls for dolomitic lime, should I wait at least one week after mixing it up to plant my veggies in it? Thanks to all of you for your great advise! KC


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 20, 12 at 17:38

It's better to wait for the lime to finish the reactive phase in (moist) soils before planting, so the residual fraction will be more readily available, but I often make soils and plant in them, same day. I wouldn't get terribly concerned if you happen to be unable to allow the extra time - not the end of the world, as most of us have figured out.

Al


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Thank you so much Al! I've got almost 2 dz very healthy tomato plants I started from seed just itching to get planted. I only have room in my raised bed for 12 of them so was hoping to be able to try your 5-1-1 in my containers. But, of course, I probably won't have time to wait for the lime to 'settle in' before planting 'cause these babies are more than ready to go! On another note, I just want to take the time to thank you for all the incredible work you have obviously put into educating yourself and then sharing with the rest of us. I simply cannot imagine the amount of time I/we have been able to save thanks to you Al. I have come to fully realize that there are many opinions, but I have seldom seen the amount of well-researched, hands-on experience, and contemplative analysis that you provide the world - for free! Thank you!!! (And I'll be sure to keep you up-to-date on my results with some pics.) Happy gardening and happier eating (eventually)! KC


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 21, 12 at 10:41

Awww - you're so kind. Thank you very much!

Photobucket Al


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Hi Al - Don't mean to bug you, but since you answered my last question about lime I have had a chance to go back and read a lot more of the posts re: your 5-1-1 and gritty mix. Now I'm in a real dilemma and would once again seek your expertise. I'm in zone 7B/8A (GA) and our summers can be brutally hot and dry (rainwise) but also humid (lots of trees). I'm expecting no less this year. At first I was going with the 5-1-1, but then became fearful of the peat part drying out and that making the entire soil hydrophobic. I do tend to my garden daily (or twice or thrice, etc.), but sometimes I do need to be gone for a day or two and have lost too many plants to someone who just didn't understand the importance of proper watering. For that reason, I then decided I should switch to the gritty mix. But now I'm once again leaning towards the 5-1-1 because these are all for veggies/herbs. (I bet we newbies drive you crazy:)! So once again Great Guru of all Great Soil - what would your best suggestion be? BTW, the containers will be getting 5-6 hrs. of sun, mostly from 10:00 - 3:00/4:00. Thank you so much Al!
KC


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Hello!
My vote goes for the 5-1-1, KC ;-)

Josh


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Apr 24, 12 at 7:48

That's what I'd do, too. If you are really worried about water retention - the soil is meant to be adjustable by varying the size of the pine bark and the volume of peat, and to some degree, the perlite. You could also include a little vermiculite or Turface fines screened from the Turface for the gritty mix, as I'm pretty sure you have plants that could benefit from being in it (gritty mix).

Al


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Kathy,

Don't think that the 5-1-1 is any way an inferior mix. It's not as durable as the gritty mix, but in other respects it's very comparable. For warm season veggies, I've used it for 2 seasons here in the north without any problems whatsoever.

Once you begin using the mix, you're going to quickly become accustomed to how often you need to water. I should say, however, if you're going to be away for several days during the hottest days of summer you'll definitely need to come-up with a plan for supplemental irrigation - whether it's a helpful neighbor, a rudimentary drip irrigation system, or something else. Lee Valley (and many other catalog suppliers) have an array of options for watering, so you might want to explore some of these. When your tomato plants get big they're going to be sucking up the water very quickly and, regardless of how retentive your mix is, you'll need to be watering regularly. Skipping a few 90 degree days could doom all your hard work.

After struggling with this same issue for several years, I invested in a drip system for my containerized tomatoes and peppers. It can be done very inexpensively in many cases - depending on the number of containers and whether or not they are centrally located. It's not perfect, but it has helped me reclaim a lot of my summer.

Good luck!


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Thanks guys! This will make my day a lot easier as I already have everything for the 5-1-1 but was having WAY too much trouble finding the Gran-I-Grit. You know, I bet in 20 years no one will be left that knows about chickens and grit. It's scary. I have read so many posts on these threads and have had the same experience about "Duh?" looks when seeking these very simple ingredients. Oh well, on to the garden! I hope neither of you have been hit with the snow storm yesterday. Talk about a dampere on everything! Thanks again. KC


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RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

  • Posted by DWD2 10a, Sunset 17 (My Page) on
    Wed, May 9, 12 at 6:31

Ideal2545, did you ever expect all this when you asked about a growing mix for your tomatoes and peppers?

I had hoped to get back to this sooner, but life has been very busy the last number of weeks and I had a limited amount of time I could devote to scholarship on this.

Tapla, I have no idea where or by whom the quotes you apparently want to present as authoritative relative to Ca:Mg ratios and "antagonistic deficiency" were generated. I said in my post above, "I can find no science demonstrating a Ca:Mg ratio that must be maintained to prevent an "antagonistic deficiency." Once again, I'd love to see a reference." Since you refused to provide a reference, I did my own search.

The concept of an optimal Ca:Mg ratio is contained in the theory called the basic cation saturation ratio (BCSR). BCSR also includes potassium in the theory that holds that certain ratios of calcium, magnesium & potassium cations must be maintained for optimal plant growth. Loew and May, mentioned in your quote, published this notion in 1901. I am providing everyone a link to a review that discusses the development and then the discarding of the BCSR concept. It has been proven SCIENTIFICALLY to be incorrect about 30 years ago. The authors conclude their review stating, "The data do not support the claims of the BCSR, and continued promotion of the BCSR will result in the inefficient use of resources in agriculture and horticulture."
https://www.agronomy.org/publications/sssaj/articles/71/2/259

The authors do point out in the review that many soil testing labs push BCSR because it sells more fertilizer. Their implication is that the 2 industries are linked in many cases. I do not know if that is true or not, but one would not be surprised if it is true.

Another publication entitled "Calcium-Magnesium Ratios: Setting the Record Straight" from the University of Minnesota ends with the statement, "It's an outdated, antique concept that has no value in high yield, modern agriculture."
http://www.extension.umn.edu/cropenews/2003/03mncn07.htm

I can not find the origin of the following quote, but it appears on a lot of sites around the web. According to Dr. Stanley Barber, Purdue University, "There is no research justification for the added expense of obtaining a definite Ca:Mg ratio in the soil. Research indicates that plant yield or quality is not appreciably affected over a wide range of Ca:Mg ratios in the soil." Dr. Barber, who died in 2002, was a member of the US National Academy of Sciences for 15 years and is possibly the premier figure in the development of soil science.
http://www.spectrumanalytic.com/support/library/ff/Ca_Basics.htm

It now makes sense why I could find no mention of any of this in Marschner's Mineral Nutrition of Higher Plants. It is because these concepts were scientifically discarded about 30 years ago.

Relative to BER, I almost do not know where to start. In my post, I provided a link to a 2005 review that is authored by one of the leaders in scientific research on BER. Dr. Ho has a VERY long list of publications about BER. Tapla responded with a quote from Dr. Carolyn Male of unknown source and date. When I check Dr. Male's publication history on pubmed and google scholar, I can only find 3 publications, none of which have anything to do with BER. I do see that she authored a book in 1999 entitled "Smith & Hawken: 100 Heirloom Tomatoes for the American Garden." From what I can read of it on Google, it looks like a good book, but it is out of print. I am also aware that she was for a number of years a major figure in Seed Savers Exchange much to her credit. All of which is fine, but I am betting if one asks Dr. Male where her understanding of the molecular mechanisms driving BER is derived, she will say through reading the scientific literature. I also bet if you ask her who knows more about BER, herself or Dr. Ho, she will say Dr. Ho. I do not say this to belittle Dr. Male in any way. I presume she is a very smart, capable person. But the quote you provide from her appears antiquated. I do not find it particularly enlightening. If Dr. Male is the scientist you believe her to be, I feel pretty certain she will acknowledge that she can not preclude the possibility that there could be sets of growing conditions where egg shells contribute in preventing BER during tomato growth. Once again, everyone can choose which source(s) of information to depend upon to further their understanding and inform their growing decisions.

Tapla is clearly very generous with his time and appears to genuinely want to be helpful. He is apparently a very skilled bonsai practitioner. When I first started reading Tapla's posts, I thought he must really know his stuff. However, as I read more of his posts, I kept reading statements that were scientifically nonsensical. As I read more & more of the plant biology and horticultural literature, I came to the realization that Tapla simply does not understand what he is talking about much of the time and offers explanations that are frequently WAY off the mark like the notion of antagonisms between Ca:Mg and his use of calcium magnesium ratios. He uses big, scientific sounding words, but what he writes is often simply gibberish. It is my impression that the solutions Tapla suggests, while typically workable at some level, often direct people away from other workable solutions that are potentially much more attractive to many, or even most, of the folks out there trying to solve a growing problem or simply grow bigger or faster or cheaper, etc. In no way am I saying that the solutions Tapla promotes are unworkable. They typically do appear to be workable. However, after a lot of research, I have chosen other approaches that work for me that Tapla contends should not. In trying to understand Tapla's approaches, I have NEVER seen Tapla point anyone to a scientific publication that supports his opinions. I have seen him post authoritative sounding quotes as he does above but I have never seen a reference that allows you to go read the larger work. I have seen plenty of people, me included, ask to be directed to those references or the experiments/experience that support his statements only to be ignored by Tapla, which in my professional world as a scientist is a sin second only to lying about data. Not good. Certainly in science, and I believe in most aspects of life, there is true value in sharing sources of information when trying to solve a problem or transmit knowledge. I try to do this in all my posts and I happily note others do too. Sharing information sources provides everyone with the opportunity to review positions based on shared information. ALL of us get things wrong from time to time. Providing people with the body of information you used to get from A to B empowers anyone who wishes to review the thinking and point out any apparent mistakes or short-comings. Tapla's routine refusal to direct anyone to source material has a very direct underlying message. A person who does this sort of thing is saying by his/her action that he/she believes you are too stupid to read source material or examine how a particular experiment was performed and come to your own judgment. He/she is saying by his/her action that he/she is privy to knowledge that only he/she can understand and interpret. As insults go, it is very demeaning. I hope everyone recognizes that this insult is directed at each and every person that reads this forum. At another level, it is a power game that puts the individual with a "superior knowledge" which is unattainable to the rest of the poor souls out there in a position to always have the last word. As I said above, it is a behavior that there is NO tolerance for in science.

Fortyonenorth, you ask what my issue is with Tapla. It is his behaviors that I describe above. He constantly portrays himself as scientific and then behaves in a manner that NO ONE in science has any tolerance for and is DEEPLY offensive and insulting to anyone who cares about science.

In the initial part of Tapla's response to a post of mine on the Figs 4 Fun forum, he for whatever reason found it necessary to recite some of his credentials rather than agree with or disagree with or even discuss the substantive points I had raised in that post. Credentials do not make statements correct or incorrect. If an explanation to a question is correct, I do not believe it matters whether it came from someone who never graduated from high school or someone who earned a PhD from Harvard. My understanding is that a primary purpose of this and similar forums to share experiences and information to help each other have better growing experiences. Part of that process should be discussion from shared information sources and rational disagreement if needed. When the issues have a scientific component or are informed by my practical experiences, I will try to add to the discourse. Sorry to go on so.

Good luck with your gardens!


 o
RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Dam B, them is fightin' words!


 o
RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

DWD - I'm not sure to what degree they play a role in container culture but, to be sure, the subject of cation ratios in field grown crops is controversial. You usually see the biodynamic and organic folks come down on the side of advocating for ratios and the chemical/yield proponents advocating against them. Agronomists Carey Reams and William Albrecht point to specific ratios as being "ideal." Other researchers have found that on some soils plants will yield equally well over a wide range of cation ratios. So, the controversy isn't whether ratios are relavant - they most certainly are - the issue is to what degree they matter. Interestingly, Reams and Albrecht were "feed the soil" proponents. They believed that creating an ideal environment for plant growth would lead to the best crops - not simply in terms of yield, but in terms of yield, flavor and, most importantly, nutritional value. Their "ideal" ratios were an important part of their holistic approach. For example, the ratio of Ca:Mg has a significant impact on soil structure and aeration. While someone from the Albrecht school might strive to achieve great soil (in part) through balancing calcium and magnesium, "feed the plant" people might say "the hell with it..." it's easier and cheaper for me rip my fields every year and pour on the NPK.

Based on your previous posts, it's ironic that you're so eager to dismiss the idea of cation ratios. I think if you looked beyond the university research (which, of course, is funded by industrial agriculture and chemical companies) and read a few good books on the subject, you might see things differently. I would recommend Neil Kinsey's seminal, "Hands on Agronomy" for starters. Bill McKibben also has a new title on the subject, "Balancing Soil Nutrients."

In terms of the one article you quoted suggesting that soil testing labs which use BCSR to sell more fertilizer, I think that is a very irresponsible statement. Of course, in some cases, balancing cations might lead one to apply "more" ferts, in an equal number of cases, it would lead to less application. Some critics even charge that BCSR might lead to under applying fertilizers. Incidentally, I've found that BCSR labs are more often in sympathy with a sustainable approach, whereas many of the same voices that dismiss BCSR balancing as "antique" are those at the forefront of "modern" agronomy, i.e. advocating for the widespread use of GMO crops, synthetic pesticides, and the like.

I understand you want to challenge Al on the issue, but bone-up on the subject first and develop a well-balanced understanding. I really think you will see things differently.


 o
RE: Anyone try Peppers and Tomatoes in Gritty Mix?

Cut and pasted from above:

(Relative to BER, I almost do not know where to start. In my post, I provided a link to a 2005 review that is authored by one of the leaders in scientific research on BER. Dr. Ho has a VERY long list of publications about BER. Tapla responded with a quote from Dr. Carolyn Male of unknown source and date. When I check Dr. Male's publication history on pubmed and google scholar, I can only find 3 publications, none of which have anything to do with BER. I do see that she authored a book in 1999 entitled "Smith & Hawken: 100 Heirloom Tomatoes for the American Garden." From what I can read of it on Google, it looks like a good book, but it is out of print. I am also aware that she was for a number of years a major figure in Seed Savers Exchange much to her credit. All of which is fine, but I am betting if one asks Dr. Male where her understanding of the molecular mechanisms driving BER is derived, she will say through reading the scientific literature. I also bet if you ask her who knows more about BER, herself or Dr. Ho, she will say Dr. Ho. I do not say this to belittle Dr. Male in any way. I presume she is a very smart, capable person. But the quote you provide from her appears antiquated. I do not find it particularly enlightening. If Dr. Male is the scientist you believe her to be, I feel pretty certain she will acknowledge that she can not preclude the possibility that there could be sets of growing conditions where egg shells contribute in preventing BER during tomato growth. Once again, everyone can choose which source(s) of information to depend upon to further their understanding and inform their growing decisions.)

*****

I'm the Carolyn Male you've been referring to. My academic publications had to do with IGA1 proteases synthesized by some important bacteria such as H. influenzae and others. And that was from my stint at the U of Colorado Medical school where I taught med studentsa for many years and before that the same at the U of Rochester Med School and before that a BS from Cornell.

The article that was quoted from is one that I wrote many years ago at the AOL tomato Forum and I've found that folks picked up on it and it's found at several sites.

I stand by what I said then. I've spent decades researching tomato related issues and that includes BER and I disagreee with many comments that have been made above. And yes, I know who Dr. Ho is, he's been discussed quite thoroughly at another message site.

And yes, I also know Cynthia Sandberg, I forgot the name of her first husband, and have known her for years and know how she's expanded her business to give all the lectures and what all, and there was recent thread in the TOmato Forum here about her suggesting putting fishheads in the planting hole. Several years ago she asked if she could visit me b'c she was coming East with her son to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, but it didn't happen/

However, I was broadly trained and have taught courses on molecular genetics, biochemistry, environmental Microbiology and so much more. And yes, I moved back home from Denver in I think it was 1982 in order to take care of my elderly parents and that's when I started teaching at the College of St Rose, a private liberal arts college in Albany NY, and retired in 1999 due to mobility problems, viz two new hips, after falling at the local high school and severing all four quads in my right leg so have had to use a walker since then, oh, also bilateral cataract surgery and yet another kidney stone.

Just call me the bionic woman.LOL

And yes, I've been a member of SSE since 1989 and a very active one at that.A good friend Craig LeHoullier, who named Cherokee Purple, raises all my plants for me and sends them up here and Shoe and Lee in NC and Neil in IL do all the seed production for me. Freda does all the gardening for me here at home.

Although I'm a Lifetime member of SSE I'll be deleting almost all of my current 2012 listings b'c I make one large seed offer each year at another site and that for an SASE and get far more feedback from that then I ever got from SSE members. And there are other reasons I'm stepping back from SSE as well.

The last time I grew 7-800 plants and several hundreds of varieties was the summer of 2004 since I fell in Dec of 2004. And that was at the old farm where I was raised where we had acres and acres of tomatoes and I was helping out my dad when I was about five, or so. To date I've grown out about 3,200 tomato varieties.

Finally, as I was reading through this thread I saw quite a few comments about K and that's something that recently gave me some trouble. I fell twice in Feb, the last one was horrible and at the hospital it was determined that my K level was only 2.4. which is a critical level, so I was ASAP transferred to the cardiac unit. Trust me, bananas would NOT have helped.

It was interesting reading through this thread b'c there will never be agreement, that is, consensus, on anything, trust me on that. having a scientific background I'm amazed at how many folks NEVER use controls when trying something out, and academic researchers are not exempt either.

Yes, my book is now out of print and copies are going for several hundreds of dollars at many places. LOL I have four pristine copies here at home and am waiting until the price reaches about $1000 and then I'll cash in. LOL

And no I didn't make a bucket of money from the book I still owed them 26 K in book sales, mainly b'c of the color photography, but had a generous advance anyway. I was asked to write the book by Workman Press who were under contract to Smith and Hawken and didn't do it to make money, rather to share what I know about tomatoes and give some specific examples and some of the them were NOT my faves at all but I wanted to illustrate heirlooms vs OP's, those from deliberate breeding, etc.

many have asked me to do a second hundred, a third, but I can't being chained to this walker, but some have also asked me to consider writing a book about the histories of some of my fave varieties.

I have a lot of knowledge about that, she said tapping her head, and when I'm gone that knowledge is gone as well unless some of it has been picked up at the many different message sites where I've participated in the past. I'll be 73 in June, love dark bittersweet chocolate even though I'm a diabetic, so if you wish to send chocolate and/or flowers, here I am. LOL

If you have any questions about what I wrote or I didn't express myself clearly enough, please just post them in this thread although since I've never been to this Forum I don't know when I'll be back and long ago I had to give up answering questions that were sent to me off GW,mainly from the Tomato Forum, so not a good things to do.

And now to watch tennis from Madrid b'c tennis is also one of my passions along with, well, several other strong interests I have.

Carolyn, who has signed off as Carolyn ever since she went online. Dr. Carolyn was part of my academic life, Carolyn is what I use in my private life.


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