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Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures included

Posted by bgaviator 6 (My Page) on
Tue, Jun 14, 11 at 20:32

I have no idea what is going wrong with my SWC containers. I followed directions exactly. I found two different recipes for soil mixes, and tried both to see what worked best. My two worst plants are in the 3,2,1 mix of Miracle Grow, Rustic Pine Mulch, Perlite.....while my other plants that are doing better, yet still seem to have some problems are in a 70% peat moss, 20% vermiculite, 10% perlite mix, with just a little pine mulch mixed in. From what other people have told me, the plants in my 3,2,1 mix should be doing better than my 70/20/10 mix, but this seems to not be the case.....the one plant I will show you in my picture set is with the 3,2,1 mix, and the dirt feels downright bone dry, even if I stick my finger down into the dirt.

With all the containers I mixed in a cup of Dolemite, and I spread about 3/4 cup of 10-10-10 granular fertilizer around the perimeter of the buckets, but I did not mix the fertilizer in.

The first picture here is my worst plant. It is a yellow sugar sun sweet cherry tomato plant....as you can see, all the bottom stems have fallen off, even though it looks like new stems are trying to bud on the main stalk. The plant does have 1 or 2 flowers at the top.....but it's a mess. It is in the 3,2,1 soil mix.

From SWC 2011

This photo is of my other plant in the 3,2,1 mix....it looks better than the cherry tomato plant, but the soil feels bone dry in this bucket even though I fill the reservoir every night. Something is going on with the leaves though to where they are browning and curling.
From SWC 2011

From SWC 2011

These next photos are from one of the plants that seems to be growing/flowering well, however I am concerned about these spots on the leaves. One plant has tiny brown spots, while another has developed tiny white spots.
From SWC 2011

From SWC 2011

I make sure my reservoirs are filled every night, and I have been resisting the urge to top water the plants. I just don't know what to do at this point to save these things. My wife thinks I should just give it up and put them in the ground, but I know these should work....I've seen too many wonderful photos to prove that it does work. Please advise on what I can do to save my crop! Thanks so much!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

You probably have at least a couple of different things going on. The 'spots' in the last 2 pics could be sunscald, did you harden off these plants?

If you feel some of the plants are 'bone dry' on top go ahead and top water them a bit. Make sure you check the moisture level a few inches down. Dry on the top couple of inches isn't necessarily a bad thing.

The yellow and brown leaves could be a disease like Early Blight or Verticillium Wilt.

Was your 'Rustic Pine Mulch' mostly pieces of pine bark, or did it include sapwood as well?


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

Agree with ferretbee 100% I think both of your media mixes should work,at least better than this .Did top plant at one time have many leaves ? looks like they are dying of disease or not enough water ,so try wetting the top soil just to rule that out (too much water and they turn yellow) The pics with spots are definetly from sun/wind burn during the hardening off process.this makes the plant grow very slowly trying to repair the damaged tissue. Remove as many bad leaves from them as you can up to 50 % if need be (then water) and the plant will put out new undamaged foliage good luck


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

I am not sure about the mulch having sapwood. I bought it at Lowes and it was called "Rustic Pine Mulch" made by some company in Ohio.
I got all of these plants at a local garden center, and they all appeared to have some spotting on the leaves to me. When I asked the garden center about it, they said it was because of the late frost we got here in Ohio, but that the plants should bounce back once planted. I did not do any "hardening" off of the plants....I just planted them in the buckets as soon as I bought them from the garden center.
We have also had a few nights this week down in the 50s, but I am not sure if that would be doing anything to the plants. As you can see from this picture, this cherry tomato plant is budding new sets of leaves/stems on the main stalk, but they are already browning/curling despite how small they are.
From SWC 2011

Is there anything I can do at this point? Would some kind of additional fertilizer help them get better?


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

I really feel that you have at least 2 problems that contributed to the condition of the plant in the first picture :

1. Transplant was less than ideal when purchased

2. Either the plant is getting too much, or not enough water.

I have some questions to ask that might shed some more light on what happened...Most notably, how many hours of direct sun exposure does the location get? Also, what kind of wicking basket arrangement does the swc have?

EG


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

I have never really paid too much attention on how much light it gets, I just always assumed it got enough. It is on the south side of the house, and gets sun pretty much all morning and afternoon. It starts to get in the shade toward early evening as the sun sets and the house casts a shadow.

For the wicking basket I used ZipLoc round storage containers and drilled a series of small holes all throughout them. I made sure that water flowed into the containers once the tube was filled, as I tested it before I added my dirt. The wicking "basket" is 3 inches deep....I drilled my overflow hole at the 2 inch mark, so there is a 1 inch air gap. There is also the 1/4 inch holes drilled all throughout the bottom of the dirt chamber as well.


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

"Rustic Pine Mulch"

can you post a picture of the mulch so l/we can see the size of it. i thinking its to large and you might need a 3-3-1 mix


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

Here is the pic of the Rustic Pine Mulch
From SWC 2011

From SWC 2011


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

bgaviator, Just a few questions that may or may not help.

1. What brand of fertilizer did you use?

2. Stick your finger down into your mix? Does it (your finger) feel wet, damp or dry?


Ron


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

Photobucket
this is nutrient problem (lack of magnesium) looks like your 4th picture


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

I feel that the wicking basket is a major factor involved. Swc's made from 5 gal. buckets need just a tiny amount of exchange between water and soil within.....

EG


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

Ron,
I am not sure on the brand of fertilizer. I thought I had the bag still in the garage, but it appears it's been thrown away. I got it at Lowes....it wasn't organic or specific to tomatoes.....I do know it was a 10-10-10 formula, as that's what I read you needed to avoid burning roots. I just took 3/4 cup of it and spread it around the outside edge of the buckets on top of the dirt, but did not mix it in....this was what I watched on that globalbuckets.com web site. I mixed in 1 cup of Epsoma brand Garden Lime into the top few inches of dirt. It was originally in pellet form, but I ground it to dust as much as I could using an old blender I had.

Based on my pictures, and info I have given, what did I do wrong, and can I save these plants at this point?


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...what can i do?

EG,
So you think my wicking chamber is too large for the buckets?
In all the instructions I have seen, it looks like people use containers that would roughly contain the same volume as mine. I see a lot of people using plastic drink cups, but with the Lowes buckets, the weight would have crushed them....that's why I went with the heavier plastic ZipLoc containers.


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

I feel that the wicking basket is a major factor involved. Swc's made from 5 gal. buckets need just a tiny amount of exchange between water and soil within.....

EG


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wicking basket

It's not that the basket itself is too large, it's all of the holes drilled into it.


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

So essentially my buckets are getting too much water due to the wicking chamber? So I should have drilled less holes in it? I guess I am confused here as all of the pictures/vids I have seen online didn't mention anything about the wicking chamber being of a certain size....I actually don't think the chamber I used is any bigger than using a deli container or plastic drinking cup as I had seen so many other instructions use for their chambers. What kind of wicking apparatus do you suggest I use for future 5 gallon buckets?
No one has stated yet if there is anything I can do to save my current buckets.


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

"No one has stated yet if there is anything I can do to save my current buckets."

bgaviator,

There are way too many variables to say for certain if your plants can be saved. Trial and error often play into the equation. The finger test would help to rule out your plants are getting too much water, which is very possible. You also might want to go into the soil with your hand about 4 to 5 inches and pull up a handful of your mix. Describe what it feels like moisture wise and this should at least solve the moisture theory.

The reason I asked about the fertilizer is to find out if the graduals are coated. If they are, break the surface so the fertilizer goes to work faster. You are also probably using a fertilizer that lacks Mg and or Ca which are very important in growing Tomatoes.

Try using Osmocote Plus Multi-Purpose Plant Food and break the surface before applying. It has Ca, Mg and other essential mineral nutrients your plants need.

If you end up with a mix, chamber or what ever else is contributing to a wet soil, just drill a hole in the bottom and water from the top. Thats one way to save your plants.

Ron


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

Top water for a couple days and wait to see what happens .


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

bg,

As you can see from the replies, you are getting lots of different assessments on the problem. I won't add to the fray - - but would suggest a process of elimination that may take a few Seasons to sort out. I personally think trying different combinations of fertilizers, watering methods, wicking basket sizes may be required to get an optimal balance.

Raybo


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

Thanks for everyone's input.

Isn't the Dolemite supposed to take care of the Magnesium and Calcium aspect that Ron talked about?
Is there any type of fertilizer I can add to the water chamber at this point that might help? I can't really take the plastic off the buckets cause the plants are too large I would think to get a new piece of plastic on them well.


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

Growing tomatoes (and also peppers) in a swc made from 5 gallon buckets is pretty complex, because everything must be scaled down to achieve optimal results. This includes wicking basket characteristics - such as wicking basket size, drastically throttling back on the amount of water allowed to enter the cup full of soil, and of course size/number of holes drilled into it..
Although the globalbuckets design will work for lots of veggies - it's useless for tomatoes and peppers. I speak from experience, and have experimented thoroughly with all sorts of combinations.

The tomato plant that looks like a twig is most likely done for, and reminds me of my early attempts at growing transplants from seed. Of course the problem was caused by overwatering...

I have a design that is successful on my blog - although it's certainly not the only one to consider using....a link to it is on the sidebar to the right, and you're welcome to use it.....

EG

Here is a link that might be useful: Go here......


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

Isn't the Dolemite supposed to take care of the Magnesium and Calcium aspect that Ron talked about?

Yes it does. I was trying to point you in the direction of a complete time released fertilizer.

Good luck,

Ron


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

bg,

The Premier folks who make Pro-Mix BRK for Container gardening recommend microbark particle size in the 1/2 inch range. Your Pine mulch looks much smaller than that and may be impeding aeration to the root system.

I would also ask how much fertilizer did you apply when planting. Some of the photos appear to be characteristic of fertilizer burn around the edges of the leaves.

Raybo


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

are you certain that your Rustic Pine Mulch did not contain any weed killer?

My wife brought home some pine mulch from Lowes the other day that had Preen in it.....back it went....

Lowes here in NC has something called Soil Conditioner that is the Bark Fines that everybody talks about.

I think that with or without weed killer, your pine mulch could be a problem. I would try and find some Bark Fines and make a new 3:2:1 mix and see what happens. try with a new tomato plant.

I would bet that your wicking arrangement is NOT wicking too much water. as an experiment, take your two buckets, remove the top covers, and try top watering for a couple of weeks....

I am using an approximation of the 3:2:1 mix in all of my various brands of SW containers and they are growing better than any previous year where I used Moisture Control Miracle Grow without perlite or bark fines.

Michael Hewitt Hampstead, NC


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

Rather than continue to offer good, solid advice about this topic, instead I will submit a link to a detailed post written by myself on the subject of controlling the wicking characteristics of a swc. I welcome all contributors to this thread to read it. Good day......

EG

Here is a link that might be useful: My thoughts on swc's


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

Raybo,
The globalbucket kids said to add 1 cup of fertilizer in a ring around the outside perimeter. I think I added about 3/4 a cup, because 1 cup was a lot to cram into that space....and I still thought 3/4 cup looked like quite a lot. I was worried about it, but these kids on global buckets seemed to know what they were talking about.


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

bg,

I certainly think this is one of your problems. One Cup of fertilizer seems way too much in one shot, in a 5 gallon container. I do believe this is what is contributing to the leaf burn, etc.

Next Season, start off with 1/4 Cup max., then you can add supplemental amounts throughout the Season, as needed.

Raybo


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

I've used 2 cups of 10-10-10 fertilizer in a ring around the top of my 5 gallon and even 3.5 gallon SWCs on lots of occasions without any burn. The only way I can see it causing burn in bg's setup is if he top watered the heck out of it before putting the mulch cover on.

The problem 'could' even be the MG potting mix. I had poor results with it in 2009 in both my SWCs and even with wintersown germination in 2010. I think there may be some bad batches out there. I've read about some bags of MG that smelled like gasoline. Some folks get really good results from MG, but it is made at different facilities in different parts of the country. I've read about testing soil and compost for herbicide contamination by sprouting beans in it. There are some newer herbicides in use that don't readily break down in compost.

I tend to agree that your setups are more likely to be too wet than too dry. My first SWC buckets were way to wet and I killed a couple of tomato plants. I made matters worse by really saturating the mix as I filled the buckets and watered in the transplants.

I get a pretty good idea how wet my SWC buckets are by weight. Lift up the soil bucket (without the water reservoir) and if it feels light for its' size, then probably too dry. If it feels really heavy for its' size, then it's too wet.

These days, I use my SWC's as top watered containers until the plants get established and are a bit bigger. Then I add the fertilizer ring and mulch cover. I don't start using the reservoir until I feel the weight lighten up a bit. New transplants need very little water, especially with a mulch cover.

You can easily add plastic mulch covers to a bigger plant by using a slit from the middle to the edge instead of a small X in the middle.

Water usage varies tremendously based upon temperature, wind, plant size, and even humidity. You can get away with almost any setup if your climate warm. The plants themselves will also adapt somewhat to different conditions and will often 'take off' after they adjust (if they survive).

There are a number of variables that dictate how much water a SWC will wick including (but not necessarily limited to): potting mix, wicking chamber size, size of wicking chamber holes, number of holes, depth of reservoir, depth and volume of soil chamber. I beleive the mix and the size and number of wicking chamber holes are the main variables.

Sorry for the ramble.


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

Great tips, Ferret!

Josh


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

Most of the symptoms are reminiscent of what tomato plants look like when they've been sitting in soggy soil for too long. Ask me how I know. :-)

The yellowing, the browning/blackening, the obvious signs of nutrient deficiency -- this all happens when tomato plants have wet, soggy feet.

The 4th picture looks a little fuzzy, but could be flea beetle damage. The little buggers are having quite a year in many places. Insecticide will take care of that.

I agree with the poster who suggested a magnesium deficiency, especially when accompanied by chlorotic leaves, which indicates the plants are not getting other micro nutrients.

The fertilizer you use -- does it have micro nutrients like magnesium, calcium, iron, etc.? Is it being washed out too quickly due to wicking or saturation? I don't know if you used too much or too little. It could be that the plants aren't taking up nutrients because their roots have been too wet.

You could try a foliar feeding with dilute, water-soluble, fast-acting fertilizer (MiraclGro, Peter's, etc.). Make sure it is very, very dilute. Use directions for indoor plants then halve that amount again. Spray on the leaves. The plants can take in some nutrients that way since they're not getting nutrients through their roots.

You should listen to your wife and put some plants in the ground while you're experimenting with plants in SWCs. Actually, listening to your wife is generally good advice. :-)

If you need to save face tell her that you need a control group so you can compare progress between the SWC tomatoes and "normal" tomatoes. Bonus: you'll be sure to get some tomatoes after all your hard work.

I admire the SWC folks. I only tried it one year with a couple of tomato plants and it was not successful. I'm sure it's a matter of getting the hang of it.

Pretty much, I had the same issue you're dealing with -- the soil would get soggy, which tomato plants hate, and they would lose vigor and get sickly looking. Then, the soil would feel dry and I'd fill up the reservoir and the soil would be soggy again.

Ultimately, unless you can achieve consistency with the moisture issue, the fertilizer (or lack thereof) won't matter. Tomato plants with soggy roots will fail to thrive and will eventually go to the great garden in the sky.


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

It sounds like way too much fertilizer and lime for one plant. Is that what the bag said to do? I would have used about a tablespoon of each.


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

The lime and fertilizer amounts are fine for this type of setup, and are consistent with the volume 'Earthbox' recommends for their units.


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

I'd like to second the request to know how the soil a few inches down feels. This would tell us if the problem is linked to too much/too little water. There's not much point speculating until we have the basic information.


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

mv 3 cents.

did you moisten the soil mix thoughly at the start? the water needs to travel almost to the top.
i think its just soaking the bottom layer and not getting to the fertilizer band so you are having a nutrient problem.
water and get a wood dowel, push it down to the bottom and check it every hour and see how high it comes up.


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

Yes, I did moisten the soil really well before putting it in the buckets.....as wet as I could get it. I have not done the finger soil moisture check yet....sorry, busy week.
Actually out of my 6 buckets, the cherry tomato plant seems to be the only one I have major concerns with.....it is still a burnt up looking with no stems left on it.....that plant was my weakest looking plant to begin with....it didn't seem the best from the nursery, but the sales lady said it would bounce back after being planted.....doesn't seem to be happening. My other plants seem to be ok, aside from two of them having slightly browning leaves on some of the very bottom stems. They just don't seem to be growing very fast at all. I surely thought they would be bigger by now. I am getting flowers on a few of them, so that's good.

By the way, where do you guys find some of these "Pro-Mix" and pine bark fines? All we have around here is Lowes and Home Depot, and I cannot find this stuff at all. I have not been to any big dedicated garden centers so far.


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

In my opinion, everything points toward the mix being too wet (and probably some sunscald from not hardening off the plants).

I recommend you check the weight of the soil bucket, and if it feels heavy empty the reservoir and remove the mulch cover. Continue to empty the reservoir every day or 2 and don't water again until it starts to feel a bit light. I would also move the sick plant to a more shady spot until/if it recovers.

ProMix products are carried by a lot of garden centers, but good pine bark fines can be really difficult to find in the Northeast these days. I had to order a pallet from a nursery supplier to get my supply.

It sounds to me like the combination of your wicking chamber holes, the shredded material (as opposed to bark chips) in the mulch you used, your liberal watering at transplant, and diligent reservoir filling were all just way too much for your little transplant. It went into shock and won't recover until the roots can get some air.

Seriously, little tomato plants don't need much water. Big tomato plants do (that's when the SWCs come in handy). Here's some of my SWC tomatoes from 2 days ago when I just filled the bucket reservoirs for the first time:

I'm still not using the reservoirs in the larger containers yet (next week maybe). The buckets probably won't get refilled again until Thursday (they hold about 1.8 gallons of water due to a riser, yours hold less than a gallon). When it's hot and the plants are big they usually get refilled every other day. Before I added the mulch covers they got top watered once or twice a week. The water usage of tomato plants progress with higher average temps and plant size. With small plants and cooler temps, the SWC is actually a hindrance to plant health and growth.

Also note the tomato in the bucket on the left looks a bit thin due to an egregious groundhog attack (before I fenced it off).


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

  • Posted by jennq 9a/14 (NorCal) (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 23, 11 at 14:16

If you moistened the soil well and filled the reservoir, the soil is probably too wet for a small plant. As Ferretbee suggested, you will want to dump as much water out of the reservoir as you can, and remove the cover.

To find ProMix, try checking their site for local distributors: http://www.premierhort.com/eProMix/Horticulture/fhorticulture.htm

Even if the local distributor doesn't carry it, they may be able to special order it for you.

For bark, I buy Earthgro Groundcover Bark from Home Depot: http://www.premierhort.com/eProMix/Horticulture/fhorticulture.htm

The bag I get doesn't look exactly like that though. The same brand could be completely different in your region, so finding the best one available to you locally will require some legwork. I've seen orchid bark that I think would work better than the Earthgro, but it's significantly more expensive, and I have a lot of plants.

For Turface, check their site for distributors: http://www.turface.com/distributors

Good luck!


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

Jenn,
I bought a couple bags of Earthgro just to test, and the bark is huge.

Since you're in Nor Cal, perhaps you can find E.B. Stone products.
I use two of their bark products - "Orchid Bark" in fine-grade;
and Greenall Micro Bark (same company, different packaging).
The Micro Bark is basically the same fir bark product, but in a larger bag
for a lower cost (about $9). I still screen the bark.


Josh


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

  • Posted by jennq 9a/14 (NorCal) (My Page) on
    Fri, Jun 24, 11 at 15:03

The Earthgro Groundcover Bark I've gotten this year doesn't seem huge to me, although my basis for comparison is limited.

I used the same exact product a few years ago, and it was bigger then, similar to what's described in this post: http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/contain/msg0520533426676.html When I used the bigger pieces, I added more peat. This year I stuck with a 5-1-1 ratio, but with Turface instead of perlite. It's actually too water retentive now, but will be perfect later in the season. Root development has been excellent, and the plants are thriving despite me trying to love them to death, lol.

The Earthgro is $4 for 2 cu. ft., and the better quality bark is more than twice that (even more if you factor in gas to go get it out of town). I've gone through ten or twelve bags of it so far, without sifting any of it. I've had to make sacrifices to stay within my budget, in terms of time and money. Thanks for the tip though- I do plan on getting the good stuff next spring, and mixing up a proper batch of gritty mix for some of my plants, but for annual veggies it isn't worth the trade-off to me.

And I went and got my notepad all dirty just to show you that picture. :-p

BG, sorry for threadjacking you for a minute. But I would recommend reading up on the 5-1-1 concept, and looking around at local stores to see what will work for you. The things I've grown in a bad version of the 5-1-1 still do ten times better than they have in store-bought peat-based mixes. It's a pain in the rear to find everything, but once you do, it's totally worth it.

Good luck! :-)


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

I just wanted to update you all on my SWC tomatoes. Sorry I haven't been on in awhile, and thank you for all of your help. My tomatoes have bounced back quite nicely in my opinion, even the cherry tomato that was on the verge of being totally dead. What did I do? Well, I essentially just left them alone! I stopped top watering them, and just filled the PVC tube every 2-3 days, and they all came back awesome. I am now needing to fill the buckets every night it seems though, but the plants are of course much larger.
From SWC 2011

From SWC 2011

I am concerned though that I am starting to get BER problems....I noticed this one of of the small green tomatoes is just getting started. Not sure if I can do anything about it at this point to stop it from happening with the other plants. I added Epsoma brand Garden Lime to the soil before planting.....the Lime was in pellet form, and from what I read I tried to ground it into powder the best I could, but a lot of it was left in pellet form.....I'd say I got about half of it powdered using an old crappy blender......but it didn't do the job so well. Anything I can do about this? I have a picture, but my phone isn't uploading the pictures well for some reason. I will try to post the BER pics soon.


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

Here are my newest pics. I am very concerned about this one tomato showing the rot though. Not sure what to do.
From SWC 2011

From SWC 2011


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

bgaviator, Blossom end rot hard to fix after the fact in my limited experience. Perhaps try to correct calcium magnesium imbalance with balanced liquid fert at every watering such as Foliage Pro.

I didn't know that the garden lime pellets should be blended/ground up when initially added. I use Epsoma garden lime and never have had BER, I don't grind the pellets

Robert


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

Sorry to hear about your BER problem. That's alot of rot on one tomato. I have a bunch of tomato plants this year and they all have set fruit. I do have one plant that is getting BER. As soon as I notice it, I get rid of the tomato.......don't want to waste any plant energy on bad tomatoes. As soon as I see a little spot of BER I yank it. So far on my one bad plant, every tomato has had a BER problem. Funny, I can't figure out why, and I haven't had a BER problem in the past. I added 'a little' lime and some gypsum to the soil, and I'm not going to water it until it really needs it, and let's see what happens. I do have one plant in a two 5 gal bucket SWC, and that plant is doing really well. It's really big, with dark green super leaves, and has a few tomatoes on it. The reservoir probably holds about a gallon, and it needs filling every couple of days due to the plants size, and all the hot dry weather we have been having lately.


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

Here are some pictures of another one I found tonight. This looks different than other BER I have seen though.....this has multiple dark spots, as opposed to just one that has formed in the center. Is this still BER, or something else?
From SWC 2011


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

Looks like BER to me. I've removed tomatoes with smaller spots than those.


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

so why would this be happening despite the fact I added the required Garden Lime to my bucket mix?


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

Last year was my first year growing in SWC, Earthboxes. One of my paste toms lost about 75% production to BER. I had used the EB dolomite lime as directed, along with EB fertilizer and EB potting medium so I was really bummed. Found out later certain toms, like paste are really prone to BER. EB site said to add a dose of Mrs Wagners Pickling Lime, which I found at Walmart and although it didnt save the ones already showing BER, it did stop happening. Linda


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

Overwatering or overly saturated mix can also impair the plant's ability to use Calcium,
even if the mix has ample Calcium.


Josh


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

so why would this be happening despite the fact I added the required Garden Lime to my bucket mix?

its NOT the lack of calcium. its the way the calcium is distributated throughout the plant. over and under watering, root mass, temps, stress etc.

once the plant gets more mature the ber starts to go away. as long as your watering gets more even.


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

I have just assumed that I need to be watering every day with these tomatoes now that we're in the 90 degree days in Ohio. I just go out every single night and fill the tube until I see water running out the drain hole.....is this possibly overwatering them? The plants look awesome....leaves are lushes and not showing any signs of stress from over/under watering, just not the tomatoes. I actually went out tonight and was so disappointed to see that every one of my newly forming green tomatoes was getting these spots....and this goes for each variety of tomato I have. I have some blossom end rot spray I bought last year.....should I try spraying with this? Could I potentially add the mix into the water chamber? I don't want to lose my whole crop of tomatoes!


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

I agree that overwatering isn't necessarily the cause. If it was, everyone that uses SWC's would have BER. I have one SWC, and the plant is drinking like a fish, constantly sitting in damp soil, and that plant doesn't have BER. It's a very lush plant, and frankly, is the best looking plant that I have. My bummer plant happens to be planted in the ground. Now I have a pepper plant, planted in the ground next to the BER tomato, and I just noticed a pepper yesterday that has BER also. I don't know what the cause is, but today I'm going to give the soil a calcium (dissolved gypsum, so pH won't go up) bath. I have nothing to lose as far as those two plants go.

If I were you, I'd try anything......you have nothing to lose at this point if every tomato has had BER.


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RE: Please need desperate help with SWC tomatoes....pictures incl

the ber started when the fruit just started forming. 3 weeks ago or more. when your plants were sressed. now that your plants are more mature and stable they will put out ber free fruit. every year i get a few ber tomatoes when the plants are like a teenager on redbull. and for peppers they dont like that much water so when they are young i dont water until they need it.


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