Some elements in the Dr Earth fertilizer are more water soluble than others I suppose. The N is fully water insoluble. The package says you can soak the mix for 24 hours and then use the liquid as a tea or for foliar feeding. The remaining solids can then be mulched around the plants. That’s not how I use it though.
Checking in on EB tomato growing. How are yours doing Mr. C?
I’ve been using the top strip of Dr. Earth’s organic tomato food, along with weekly light MG once things really kick in.
The stem sizes are great, and they look suitably Jurassic Park-y finally: (L>R, Husky Cherry, Golden Jubilee and Black Prince, one of each in 2 EBs. Cherry has its own while the two heirlooms share a box.)
I stopped counting today at 100 tomatoes ripening. Cherries:
And Black Prince with a Golden Jubilee behind them:
I just love these EBs more every year for tomatoes, since I think I have the feeding regimen down a bit better. I don’t use the covers or plastic over the growth medium, as that seems to promote fungal issues here because its so darn humid. These guys never crack unless I somehow allow them to not get tanked up and dry the top layer; but at this point in the season that’s unlikely as they are so thick they self-shade the planting mix. Much less cracking than I had in-ground.
I don’t have any pests (knock on wood). I also find that with EB versus ground my lower stems stay active and don’t die off as much. By season end in October they will be thinner, but they keep on truckin;’.
Anyone else have some EB progress to report?
My EBs have been pumping out toms for weeks now. The plants are getting a little crispy, like always in July, but they are ripening like crazy. I’ll start another EB or two for a late Fall crop and also to bear over winter. I am starting to see some spidermites as I can’t hit every leaf surface due to the dense foliage.
Yes, it gets very dense in there. Mixed blessing. Does the neem knock them back if you get good coverage? Hope they stay at bay.
You must get amazing total yields with your growing season. I’m planning on covering mine for a later extension into the fall.
Yeah, the kitchen table is loaded with bowls and colanders of fresh toms. It’s amazing how much fruit four fully grown plants can put out.
Here’s one of the EB this evening:
Lovely. Nice seeing some red in there. I’m still a bit away from that.
Yeah, the neem knocks them back nicely.
I like that tomato growing system. Just wondering if the tomatoes grow as large as ones in ground. And, is there room for 2 tomato plants in one earth box? I’m wanting to extend the growing season for toms and I think this could be a good way to do it. Beautiful plants u have @MrCLINT
Hi John! I get the same size tomatoes, but heavier yields and less cracking than in ground. I will put two heirlooms in one as they aren’t as vigorous as newer hybrids; for something like that I use one plant to a box. You will have your hands full, especially with indeterminates. Small tomato tree.
I have mine sitting inside a small portable greenhouse frame. They were under cover this whole cold spring, and it helped immensely. I want to re-cover them in fall to extend the harvesting. Maybe even put a small heater in there, like a reptile tank one.
Mr. Clint has been harvesting his gorgeous plants waaaaay ahead of me. I’m still all green 'maters here.
Hey thanks, Brethil! I ordered one last night. Sure sounds like a great system. You answered my questions. I can’t wait to try it out. I’ve been picking ripe maters for 3 weeks now and have really been enjoying the Betterboys and Creoles. I hope yours turn red real soon. Thanks again for the help.
Good luck John! I think you’ll enjoy the system. Biggest thing will be to follow the planting medium directions: you are making a ‘wick’ which is the basis of how the water moves. They lay it out in the booklet I think pretty well.
Lucky you, picking tomatoes for three weeks! The more the merrier.
Those of you growing tomatoes in SIPs - what are you using for potting mix?
I have one ordered and it comes with enough potting mix to do the job. It says on website it is “organic peat-based potting mix”. I wish I could give you more specific info on the potting mix, but this is new to me. Very cool avatar you have!
I’m using peat, perlite and a tiny smattering of very fine - the almost coir-y bits at the bottom of pine bark bags - of pine bark. The lime I use is Espoma Garden Lime; important for stabilizing the pH and avoiding BER issues. On their site they list some mixes that can be used; just know what you are adding.
Here is a good link to EB’s recommendations:
Bottom lines are: completely soil-less. Wicking. They have specific lime tips, about not using hydrated lime, pickling lime, or granular lime in place of the dolomitic lime. I like Espoma in general so I use their stuff.
I make my own mix, as recommended by EarthBox: 70% peat, 20% vermiculite, & 10% perlite. Make a fist and pack the corners on the back side of the fill tube as you fill the EB with the mix. This creates “wicking towers” and is one of the keys to success. It comes out to around two cubic feet of mix for two tomato plants per box. The EarthBox site has lots of instructional documents and videos. Resist the urge to wing it. These are well engineered systems, you’ll get the best results by just following their directions.
I am not using the official Earth Box; I have been making Self Watering Planters or Self Irrigating Pots or whatever-you-call-it out of recycled buckets - outer/lower bucket is the reservoir and the upper/inner bucket is the pot, with a fill pipe to the bottom reservoir. I have been growing fig trees in them this year and just added 3 more for tomatoes; last year grew both peppers and tomatoes
Pic of a young tomato in a 4 gallon SIP:
The tomato is in simply Miracle Grow potting soil with some Espoma Plant tone added.
Pic of a fig tree in a 5g SIP:
The figs are in SIPs rather than the ground so I can move them to a cold storage area in my basement each winter.
I’ve had reasonable success with EB tomatoes. Two to the box. Nothing really special, though. I had a devil of a time getting a good fruit set even with the fruit set spray here in the rocky mountain foothills. (Berkeley Tie Die). I’d say for me their slight advantage in space efficiency is their biggest attribute.
Those plants use quit a lot of water. I doubt I could go more than two days without watering in my dry climate, so, no big help there.
I think my best bet next year is to use them for lettuce and greens.
The water savings is relative to what the tomato plants require in order to thrive. It would take a lot more water for an equal amount of growth or production if you planted in ground. Keep your EarthBoxes filled at least daily, that’s part of the system. Failing to do so would make for uneven watering which can impact production, interrupt wicking, and cause cracking and/or blossom end rot.
Since all gardening is local, choose tomato varieties that are known to do well in your area. If you don’t have access to reliable local information such as a neighbor, professional nurseryman, or gardening club, consider doing your own trials with a number of varieties.
I am super thrilled at how my first try at growing maters in an Earthbox has turned out. I just keep it topped off with water, everyday, and watch the vines thrive. This was a late planting, so maybe with some clear plastic covering I can still harvest many many in a month or 2. The bees are absent, so I just shake the blooms. So far it’s been working great. I still need some warm temps, crossing my fingers.