Tag Archives: container gardening

Blossom End Rot in Tomatoes

It’s official our tomatoes have blossom end rot.  Our little babies are sick and we are trying to figure out a cure.  Our Rodale organic gardening book we have suggested kelp sprays because of a calcium and magnesium deficiency.  One online source said it’s a calcium deficiency and over watering problem.  And an yet another online source said it was due to erratic watering and adding lime will not correct the problem if watering is truly the cause.

So what’s a gardener to do?  We’ll ask our faithful readers of course.  Have you had problems with blossom end rot, if so how did you solve the problem?

Here’s our first step.  Since we are container gardening we think we could have the erratic watering problem.  We don’t know how well the water drains from our tubs so for a while we are going to reduce the amount of water we apply.  We won’t know right away if that solves the problem because we will need to wait until the current blossoms bear fruit.  I sure hope we are right.

Thanks, Courtney.

Container Gardening

We’re back to container gardening this year and wanted to share a few pics and comments on how we are doing it.

Begin with your barrels.  Be a scrounger and find them for free like I did.  The 55 gallon size is great because you can cut them to make two planters.  Be careful on what the previous contents were.  Mine had soaps and other cleansers in them.  Rinsing them out twice should get most of the stuff out.

And here is my beautiful wife on a sunny day, drilling the drain holes into the bottom.  I put four 5/8″ holes spaced evenly and in the low spots. Yes, she is pregnant, and no, I didn’t make her do this.  She wanted to be outside in the sun.  We had fun.

Before filling with dirt, I covered each hole with a rock.  That way there is a small gap where excess water can drain.  Dirt could become compacted and clog the hole.  Proper drainage is very important so that the roots don’t rot from sitting in too moist an environment.

Begin filling with soil, being careful not to move those rocks covering the drain holes.

We filled to the top with compost.  We got free compost from a friend who owns a dairy farm.  This was dairy manure that was composted for two years and was screened.

We put three tomato plants in the tomato tubs.  Four pepper plants in the pepper tubs.  You can also see the square box in the background.  That will be our lettuces, beans, etc.

Thanks, Robert.

A few comments on container gardening

For the first three years of our marriage, Courtney and I lived in an apartment that didn’t even have a yard, it had a 4 foot by 8 foot balcony and that was it.  We went to the local farmers market every week to get most of our produce.  We did do our fair share of container gardening, though.  And we will be back to that again this summer.  The new place we’re renting has a bunch of landscaping in the back yard and I don’t want to disturb that, so I’ll be back to container gardening.

Next to the grill you can see the blue 55 gallon poly-drum that I cut and used as a planter.

My plan is to get a bunch of those plastic 55 gallon drums and cut them in half.  Drill four 1/2″ holes in the bottom for drainage and place large rocks over the holes before filling with soil.  I’ve done this before with much success.  You can get the drums for free or $10 a piece on craigslist.  If you have to move them when they’re full, you can use a dolly and a rope to hold the drum against the dolly.

If you need proof of success, here it is: the beautiful dahlia that is at the top of our blog homepage was grown in one of those containers I describe.  We grew plenty of tomatoes and peppers too.  With container gardening you need to be more careful about watering.  Over-watering will cause nutrients to leech out of the soil.  And because you’re working with a confined environment, your risk of drying out is higher.  That is one great reason why larger pots are better – you’ve got a little buffer in the water holding capacity.

There will be a finite amount of soil that you can fit in that pot, therefore a finite amount of nutrients available to the plant.  I’m far from being an expert on this one, but we bought some sort of organic fertilizer pellets that stunk like dead fish and sprinkled those around periodically.  We experienced good results, but I’m sure you could do better.  Every plant type has different needs and a little research in a few of the Rodale Gardening books at the library could tell you more than you would ever need.

Thanks, Robert.