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Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

Posted by Drew51 6a SE MI (My Page) on
Tue, Dec 24, 13 at 21:27

I was on another site that ends in ville and concentrates on tomatoes, and man this post of a greenhouse with 4 gallon pots, had the most excellent looking tomato plants I have seen. An amazing amount of flowers and the fruits look like melons. It was a sight to behold. The use of calcium nitrate, Epson salts, trace minerals, and 13-13-13 fertilizer in a mix of 1/2 peat and 1/2 compost. The results were exceptional/ makes you rethink everything you thought....


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

I have to experiment more with tomatoes. I have good results, but these plants are so consistant in size. Quite impressive.


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

It looks nice...but why would it make me re-think anything?

What specifically are you suggesting should be re-thought?

Rather, it reinforces the things that I know. Greenhouses with plenty of light make gardening easy. Wish I had a greenhouse....I'd put my peppers and citrus out there during the Winter. Also, allowing roots to grow into the soil (which is what I assume is happening in this pic, I think) will compensate for any small container.

Josh


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

Those containers look bigger than 4 gal, to me. But that does not matter , a lot of people grow matoes in 5gal. buckets, leaving almost one gal. space empty. That is practically gal.

As long as you provide what the plants need (nutrients, moisture, sun) they will thrive. This is especially true for the annuals that have about 6 months of container life. So the worse can happen is they get root bound by the end of season.

JMO


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

What i meant is I use bigger containers and usually avoid compost in pots. Tomatoes can have 4 foot roots so that is why it is surprising. It seems her technique is very productive. Unlike many here, I do not know it all, and have learned ton's from this grower.
A photo of one of these tomatoes.


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

Another nice photo


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

Nice!


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

Impressive amount of flowers!


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

I don't believe the greenhouse has much to do with it. Yes controls the amount of water, but I can do that too.
I'll never use the 5-1-1- mix again.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Thu, Dec 26, 13 at 10:27


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

The greenhouse has an *incredible* amount to do with it. As does the selection of the tomato itself. In a warm greenhouse, you can employ a much more moisture retentive mix. This is old news.

As for your last comment - "I'll never use the 5-1-1 mix again" - all of your posts, comments, and antagonisms have been working toward this statement. Do you have any pics of the 5-1-1 that you've used, or the plants that you've grown in the 5-1-1?

Josh


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

Been there. Done that. I grew container tomatoes in a 50-50 mix of Promix, which is more than 80 percent peat, and compost. I tried growing in a five-gallon pot a couple times and the plants were gnarly failures. Even in my 25-gallon pots big indeterminate tomatoes didn't do great in that mix. In those days I was growing reliable indeterminate hybrids like better boy and early girl. When I started growing large open pollinated indeterminates like brandy wine I found that larger containers (at least 15-20 gallons) and heavy fertilizing with all micronutrients (in spite of using 50 percent compost in the pot) were essential to produce a decent harvest. For the past three years, I've been using 5-1-1 and chemical fertilizers like FoliagePro. My Brandywines and Mortgage Lifters are several times more productive than they were before I switched to 5-1-1. And I've saved a lot of money on the container mix.

What kind of tomatoes are those?


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Dec 27, 13 at 11:14

.... and we're not really looking at "containerized containers" in a conventional sense. Because the pots are resting on the soil, maybe even dug into a shallow trench, the pots are really small raised beds .... or at least the water in them behaves as though they are raised beds - take your pick. Therefore you can get away with using soils that would otherwise perform poorly in conventional containers.

We know you've rethought and reformulated the gritty mix several times w/o ever having used it. What is the extent of your experience with well-aerated soils like the 5-1-1 mix et al?

Al


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

Now that Al( THE expert in Bonsai) is here, I THINK that a smaller pot (relative to the plant in question) acts as a condition of BONAIng. This means plant roots are restricted/confined to a small space. So the plant, by its genetic mission will concentrate more on growing fruits than foliage.

But on the other hand, I don't think that a 4-5 gal. soil is that limiting in this case,. As long as you provide the needed nutrients and moisture(plus sun) a tomato plant can thrive for one season, which is about 6 months. I have heard this (but not have done myself) that some gardeners do ROOT PRUNING their tomato plants in garden bed to promote fruits production. In a container this is done automatically.


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Dec 29, 13 at 14:44

Too small pots don't restrict growth unless the soil/root temperatures are higher or lower than something that would be more ideal if roots were in the ground and subject to the moderating effects of the earth's mass, or the state of root congestion has reached about the point where the root/soil mass can be lifted from the pot intact. Even then, if roots are allowed to run into the soil beneath the pot the effects of root congestion would be largely eliminated.

I usually grow tomatoes in 18 qt totes. To keep weeds down around the containers, I usually have the totes resting on 2x8 pieces of white FRP panel, so roots don't penetrate into soil below the pots. Vine growth always slows at about the time roots get congested, but decreasing photoperiod and intensity might play a significant part in that.

In bonsai, it's true that root constriction shortens internodes and decreases leaf size - it slows growth. Normally though, since root congestion also negatively affects vitality, it's carefully monitored, and even avoided in developing plants. The practice that has the most influence on 'dwarfing' bonsai material is pruning to increase the number of apices (growing points). By pruning so as to increase the number of leaves and branches, we greatly increase the ratio of apices to plant volume. This means that nutrients and photosynthate are divided between a much larger number of growing points, so leaves grow smaller, and closer together because branch extension is reduced. This is why it's so difficult to make young plant material with only a handful of apices look like a realistic representation of what a mature tree of the same species would look like in nature. We often defoliate or partially defoliate areas of the plant where growth is strongest, especially near the top of apically dominant plants, or cut leaves in half. These practices serve to balance energy allocation and keep all parts of the plant healthy - especially useful in keeping the plants from shedding lower branches that are important parts of the composition.

Ok - I'm off topic now - sorry about that. Still, I hope the info provided some insight.

Al


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

  • Posted by nil13 z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Wa (My Page) on
    Mon, Dec 30, 13 at 22:02

No one ever said you couldn't grow tomatoes in a peat based mix if you carefully hand water, heavily prune, grow in a greenhouse, heavily fertilize, spray the crap out of everything at the first sign of pest or disease which you catch early on your daily hour long inspection, and use new mix each season like Carolyn does. However some of us would rather not micromanage our tomatoes so we use a different medium and irrigation timers.


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

I read the same post. Carolyn noted that these are indeed in a raised bed. She used both 20 gallon and 4 gallon pots. As noted above, the pots in the one picture sure looked bigger than 4 gallon to me. I wondered if she made a mistake by saying those were 4 gallon in that picture.

The raised bed changes things dramatically. I've grown in the ground, in raised bed, in fabric pots (essentially raised beds) and in plastic containers. It's really a different ballgame, at least in my experience.


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

Oh forgot - someone asked what kind. I think the 1st and 3rd are Brandywine and the middle is Big Beef...


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

Yep, there's always more to the story.....


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

A lot of gardeners grow tomatoes in 5 gal buckets, leaving the top one gallon empty. I believe that for annual plants that have about 6 months of life, root bounding is not a big problem. as long as you provide the nutrients an moisture effectively. Last fall, as I was pulling up my tomatoes, I was paying close attention to their roots size. The net volume of the roots could not exceed one gallon. But then, when given the opportunity, tomato will grow excessive amount of roots and foliage.
The biggest drawback of small container, however IMO, is getting heated in the dog days of summer, in some places.


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

  • Posted by nil13 z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Wa (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 5, 14 at 12:22

1 gallon of root on a tomato plant? I could see that in a hydroponic setup, but i have never experienced that even with dwarf hybrids. My tomatoes always fill the container with roots, and I can't see how that could be considered excessive. Anytime I have seen a tomato plant that didn't fill the container it was because the container medium was either compacted or waterlogged, or one side was continually fried by heat. The plants in all of those cases suffered for it.


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 5, 14 at 13:31

My observations are the same as Nil's. If any tomato plant is producing only enough roots to occupy a gallon of soil, something is seriously wrong.

Al


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

From his other posts, I don't think Seysonn has ever grown a tomato in a container. If you pull a healthy tomato plant out of the ground at the end of the season, it is likely that you are leaving behind most of the finer feeder roots. When I emptied out the 25 gallon smart pot I grew one tomato in, I could see that the roots had reached every corner of the pot and grown through the bottom of the pot and into the ground. An eight-foot tall tomato plant can easily produce eight feet of roots. In a small container, those roots circle around and around in search of nutrients and are not able to grow to their full potential.


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

One gallon , by volume is a lot of roots.
Separate the roots from soil mix (rinse it off )
Put its in a 5 gallon bucket and fill it with water.
Now take the roots out and observe how much the volume/ level of water is reduced. That is the volume of roots, without anything attached to them.

Another way to look at it:

If the AVERAGE roots diameter is 1/16th of an inch , one gallon of roots will be about 6, 300 foot =2100 Yards.

Lets take a more conservative estimate of average root diameter = 1/12". In this case one gallon of roots will be about 3500 feet long. If you think of average length of root to be 5 feet per root, then you should have about 700 individual roots.

Somebody mentioned leaving finer roots behind. Even if so, finer roots don't have much volume. I am talking about TRUE volume not the visual appearance.

Check this one! This is a typical double decker tomato root system. Mine were just like that when I pulled them out at the end of season. Even if you double or even triple it, it is not going to add to a root mass of one gallon.


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

My observations are the same as Nil's. If any tomato plant is producing only enough roots to occupy a gallon of soil, something is seriously wrong.

Al
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
No Al, . You misunderstood. Or I was not quite clear in saying it.
I was talking about the root mass and it's VOLUME.

One gallon of root mass for 7 months old annual plant, is a big number.


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

This is planted in soil from the ground.

 photo 001-3.jpg


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

I was excited to read this --- 4 gal. Wow.

Then I downloaded the top pic and enlarged/sharpened. It looks as tho the row of plastic pots are empty. The overlapping leaves appear to belong to plants behind those pots.


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

Nice plants, impressive amounts of flowers indeed.

With that said, there is nothing too unordinary about it. I am reading some of the responses to this and I have to say the skepticism is laughable.

This post was edited by TheMasterGardener1 on Sun, Jan 19, 14 at 3:22


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

Then I downloaded the top pic and enlarged/sharpened. It looks as tho the row of plastic pots are empty. The overlapping leaves appear to belong to plants behind those pots.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

The last picture, where the pots are on pallets, clearly shows that tomatoes are planted in pots.


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

Good observation Iris. The funny thing is that the last picture with the flowers is the only one where you can see the main stem of the plant coming out of what appears to be a four gallon pot that is not sitting directly on soil. And the tomatoes growing from those pots are not the big ones shown in the other photos. They look like some kind of cherry or grape tomatoes. I'm not saying deception was intended. But perhaps there's been some misunderstanding.


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RE: Tomatoes in 4 gallon pots

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Feb 22, 14 at 14:42

Good catch, guys.

Al


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