I need your opinions on a tomato planting idea

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We are getting new tomato plants ready for our garden and my wife has this idea. Here in N. AL its been very dry (2in cracks in the ground in places), she has suggested planting the plants in 12 in black nursery containers using rich potting mix. Then when the plants are established well transplanting to the garden by cutting the bottom out of the container and splitting the sides slightly then placing plant and container in a large hole bedded with topsoil. She reasons that the container sides would help retain water and nourishment to the plant while the missing bottom and split sides would prevent root binding. I even thought that during planting , the container sleeve could be slid up about 2 inches to provide a edge barrier for watering. What do Y'all think?


-- Jay Blair (jayblair678@yahoo.com), July 25, 2000


how about peat container they come in all sizes we use the to plant out mums since they do not like their roots messed with? the pot hold moisture then breaks down in about 4 mon. they require alot of water at first to soak the pot . may work!

-- renee oneill (oneillsr@home.com), July 25, 2000.

Jay - here's my system, which has similarities to your proposal. I use 5 gallon buckets (drywall compound,ice cream syrups) or 4 gallon (donut filling, restaurant size salad dressing), and have used the black nursery containers although they are a bit flimsy. If your soil is poor, dig a hole as wide as the bucket and introduce peat, compost, or whatever you prefer. Plant the tomato seedling in the center. Cut the bottom out of the pucket and push it into the soil around the seedling about 4" into the earth. Now you can water deeply by watering inside the bucket to several inches once a week. Every 3rd or 4th week all a water soluble fertilizer such as miracle gro. They'll do beautifully. I also place a cage of concrete reinforcing mesh around the whole works to contain and support the plant. GL!

-- Brad (Homefixer@SacoRiver.net), July 25, 2000.

Container gardening. I know people who hate gardening but love the rewards. They use containers. They can easily be moved to sun/shade. The fast food places will usually just give you their 5 gallon containers. Wash well, plant, enjoy!

-- ~Rogo (rogo2020@yahoo.com), July 25, 2000.

I think it's a great idea, wife. My container tomatoes (is that with an 'e', Dan?) are doing much better than my neighbors, whose are in the ground. I have to water everyday, or at least everyother (mine are not going in the ground eventually). In your case, with 2in cracks in the soil-I don't see that you have a choice. Countryside had an article sometime ago, about planting toms in PVC pipe, that was upright, buried in the ground, I'll see if I can find it.

-- Kathy (catfish@bestweb.net), July 25, 2000.

Hey Neighbor!!!!! Here in our part of Jacksonville AL,you would need a construction crew to dig up anything..hard,dry to the max...it did pour rain yesterday, but not enough.we have been growing both peppers and tomatoes in pots and they seem to be doing rather well.We have them in the same type of containers that you do.I am just going to leave them right where they are since they seem to be thriving..Brad is THE tomato expert IMHO, so I would take his advice..God Bless...

-- Lesley (martchas@gateway.net), July 25, 2000.

Thanks for the input. I showed it to Hon, now I'm waiting for her to make up my mind on how to do them (see I know what it takes to be a good and unscathed husband). Thanks again.

-- Jay Blair (jayblair678@yahoo.com), July 26, 2000.

Dear Jay...My answer to the same problem here in the California foothills was; Start your seed inside, when plant is about 6" high pull off all the leaves except the top and plant about 4 to 5" deep. [deep rooting tomatoes] Right next to it plant a coffee can or its equivalent having removed both the top AND bottom of the can. Now you can deep-water that tomato by filling the coffee can whenever necessary. Works great and saves both time and h2o. Dollie

-- Dollie Hunter (dollie_hunter@hotmail.com), July 26, 2000.

Two things Jay.

I read an article in Countryside or Back Home where these folks in Texas cut the bottom off of two 2-liter soda bottles, removed the caps and buried them bottleneck down in the soil next to their tomatoes. Two soda bottles per plant, buried about 4 inches deep, just enough to stand upright.

Fill the 2-liters with water from the upended cutoff bottom. This water will slowly soak into the soil providing extra water as it's needed.

2nd thing.

If you just grow in pots, look into foliar feeding to provide all trace minerals and other nutrients in a balanced formula by spraying the leaves top and bottom in the early morning a few times a week. This is the best organic way to garden. The plants are fed immediately, and in many cases fed better than through the soil. Quite a bounty at harvest time.

There are ads for companies that sell seaweed nutrient spray and fish emulsion spray in A.C.R.E.S. USA.

-- Robert Addison (FarmerbobMO@netscape.net), July 31, 2000.

We do the 2-liter thing, only we cut off the bottom and bury the whole thing neck up and neck-deep, about every two or three plants (if they're in rows) or in the center of circular plantings - We make tall cages of 5' square wire fencing and plant several plants around the outside.) This allows not only DEEP watering, but eliminates evaporation and is also a got route to direct ammendments where they need to go, sometimes only for one or two weak plants. Less waste of product and better idea of how such things are actually working. We have never had problems with drought damaged plants with this meathod, even when it didn't rain all summer.

-- Soni Pitts (thomkilroy@hotmail.com), August 01, 2000.

I saw on tv where you can take a 5 gal. bucket,cut a hole in the bottom (about 1" in diameter},place the plant in bucket(sticking out of the bottom) fill the bucket with a good soil mixture and hang the bucket with plant looking down and it grow up towards the top of the bucket.Just make sure to keep the limbs supported,using the wires or handle holding the bucket. I think I'll try it this year.

-- karen e. hart (karen1962@mindspring.com), February 28, 2002.

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