Author Topic: Apartment Container Gardening  (Read 2573 times)

proketour

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Apartment Container Gardening
« on: June 21, 2009, 08:51:26 PM »
Growing up in a small town in the central valley of California, I took for granted the ease of growing things like peppers, tomatoes, squash, and corn in the rich soil and long sunny days; it seemed as though all you had to do was plant and watch it grow to gargantuan proportions.  Moving into an apartment, however, has demonstrated the difficulty of trying to grow tomatoes in pots. 

I planted two varieties of tomatoes, cherry and hillbilly, in medium sized pots.  I had some problems early on with some of the leaves turning yellow on my plants, and heard this could be caused by an iron deficiency.  So, I decided to start mixing about a tablespoon of Miracle-Gro tomato food, per 3/4 a gallon of water, and splitting this between both plants at each watering.  The yellowish leaves don't seem to be a problem any longer, but now I'm having two additional problems.

The Hillbilly plant has had some problems looking "wilty" with upturned leaves on the smaller stems.  It doesn't seem to be a lack of water, as I regularly check the soil, and even now, after a day without water, the soil is damp. 

I snapped a large branch off the cherry tomato plant last week, and ever since, this plant has taken a turn for the worse.  Many of the stems are green and healthy looking, and there is even unripened fruit in some spots, but one side of the plant is showing dying leaves with brown or blackish edges.  I'm not sure what the problem is here.  I was hoping someone here could at least take some blind shots in the dark.  Thanks for any help guys. 

dhallftworth

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Re: Apartment Container Gardening
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2009, 04:03:06 AM »
Ok on the hillbilly tomatoes the problem might be over watering.. Give the soil a chance to dry and see how the plant reacts. On the cherry tomato you might have shocked it. It may or may not continue to grow after being shocked. I broke a couple brances off of my plants this weekend while weeding and they are still doing rather good. Let the soil dry out a bit on both plants and see if they take a turn for the better, the last problem you want to have is root rot from over watering.

Offline “Mark”

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Re: Apartment Container Gardening
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2009, 09:13:25 AM »
How big are your pots?

5 gallons is a minimum for a small determinate plant. You probably want 20 gallons for an indeterminate variety.

proketour

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Re: Apartment Container Gardening
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2009, 11:11:25 AM »
Sounds like my containers are too small, and I'll try drying the hillbilly tomatoes out.  I now have the faintest sense of how utterly frustrating farming can be.  Thanks for the help guys.  If worse comes to worst, I'll move these two babies over to my mom's property where they have plenty of nice soil to plunk down in.  I am growing less and less fond of apartment living by the day.

Offline “Mark”

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Re: Apartment Container Gardening
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2009, 11:58:12 AM »
I'd go find some cheap Rubbermaid bins. I picked up some 20 gallon ones at Home Depot for $5/ea.

Also, if you overwater your tomatoes, the roots will rot. The soil should be moist, but not soaked.

Offline Cave Dweller

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Re: Apartment Container Gardening
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2009, 05:38:38 PM »
I'd go find some cheap Rubbermaid bins. I picked up some 20 gallon ones at Home Depot for $5/ea.

Also, if you overwater your tomatoes, the roots will rot. The soil should be moist, but not soaked.
I got summer squash growing in Rubbermaid bins, one is just starting to put out fruit.
It'll work, Just make sure it can drain.

Offline “Mark”

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Re: Apartment Container Gardening
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2009, 06:06:52 PM »
I drilled a 3/8ths hole in the bottom ring, and put rocks on the bottom to hold the earth in. But the soil I'm using is so loamy that I've yet to have water come out the bottom.

Offline Cave Dweller

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Re: Apartment Container Gardening
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2009, 06:16:55 PM »
Stick your finger in the top of the soil, if it's moist it dosn't need water.

proketour

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Re: Apartment Container Gardening
« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2009, 01:36:01 AM »
Thanks guys.  A big problem I have is regulating moisture.  When out in the sun, sitting on the concrete, the soil in the containers dries out extremely fast in the hot California sun.  If I put them in the shade, the soil will stay moist for days, maybe even a week, with just a small amount of water.

Offline “Mark”

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Re: Apartment Container Gardening
« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2009, 08:42:04 AM »
Mulch as much as you can.

Offline Cave Dweller

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Re: Apartment Container Gardening
« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2009, 02:49:28 PM »
Thanks guys.  A big problem I have is regulating moisture.  When out in the sun, sitting on the concrete, the soil in the containers dries out extremely fast in the hot California sun.  If I put them in the shade, the soil will stay moist for days, maybe even a week, with just a small amount of water.
Try self watering containers. You can make your own, just make sure your soil is spongy and will wick the water.
My first attempt failed, google and youtube are your do it yourself friends

proketour

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Re: Apartment Container Gardening
« Reply #11 on: June 24, 2009, 11:55:53 AM »
Wow, this thread has become a great help.  I must report that the Cherry Tomato is not doing well at all.  Surprisingly, this guy has sprouted yet more fruit, but many of the branches are near dead.

The Hillbilly Tomato looks better, but also has two smaller dead branches, and is starting to develop necrotic edges on the leaves like the Cherry Tomato did.  All of this started so well, and both my plants have taken an awful turn for the worse in the last week.

Offline “Mark”

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Re: Apartment Container Gardening
« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2009, 01:44:59 PM »
Wow, this thread has become a great help.  I must report that the Cherry Tomato is not doing well at all.  Surprisingly, this guy has sprouted yet more fruit, but many of the branches are near dead.

The Hillbilly Tomato looks better, but also has two smaller dead branches, and is starting to develop necrotic edges on the leaves like the Cherry Tomato did.  All of this started so well, and both my plants have taken an awful turn for the worse in the last week.

Chop off the dead stuff. Tomatoes do well with a good soaking if the soil dries out in between. Don't be afraid to drench the soil if it'll dry the same day.

Greenhorn

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Re: Apartment Container Gardening
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2009, 12:40:46 AM »
I have the same challenge and after some trial and error (mostly error), I decided to take a leap up to hydroponics and abandon dirt altogether.   I built an ebb & flow system on my lanai and so far (week 2), the plants are doing really well.  The pole beans & butternut squash are already 6" tall, and the peppers and tomatoes are 3" tall.

Best part, I don't have to worry about too little or too much water.  I just top off the reservoir every weekend when I add the nutrients.  I love that it only takes a few minutes a week to maintain.

Here's a picture of what the system looked like before and after I put the plants in.





If that's not your thing, you might also want to consider building an Earthtainer.  It's not really self watering, but once set up, it can tell you when you need to add water and its designed to reduce loss of moisture from evaporation (so you can leave your plants in the sun).  The only problem is if you let the water level get too low and the wick dries out.  If that happens, it could take weeks to get the system working again.

Here's the plans for that. 

http://earthtainer.tomatofest.com/

Good luck!!