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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I actually did a proof of concept last year and was happy with the results. It was with just 3 SWCs, and they did well.

This year I'm jumping in with both feet. I have 20+ containers now and expect more soon.

The only reason I'm posting this thread is that it appears that there is interest in container gardening and I might add to the knowledge base.

The pic I posted is a few days old. I'll post as I update my garden.....if that's what you would call it.
 

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Great Start

Due to space limitations and HOAs some of us have no other choice but to use containers. Not ideal, but better than nothing. Generally prefer wine barrels to plastic. More expensive, but roomier so I can have dwarf fruit trees (fig, lime, apple, citrus, cherry) in these (one per of course) and underplant with squash, peas, peppers, onions, greens, etc.
 

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I have a self watering container garden too. I use 18 gallon totes and 5 gallon buckets. Last summer I grew tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, & potatoes. It was the first time I ever had a vegetable garden. Currently I am growing lettuce, kale, bok choy, chineese cabbage, green onions, garlic, cilantro, cumcumbers, potatoes, squash, raddish, beets and tomatoes. I currently am using nine, 18 gallon totes and five, 5 gallon buckets. I have 5 more totoes and 10 more buckets that I am preparing. Good luck with your garden! Looking foward to seeing the fruits of your sucess!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Due to space limitations and HOAs some of us have no other choice but to use containers. Not ideal, but better than nothing. Generally prefer wine barrels to plastic. More expensive, but roomier so I can have dwarf fruit trees (fig, lime, apple, citrus, cherry) in these (one per of course) and underplant with squash, peas, peppers, onions, greens, etc.
SWCs have a few advantages over regular containers for growing vegetables.

1. No over-watering.
2. No under-watering (to an extent).
3. The nutrients aren't washed out the bottom.

What I like best is that they are the best intensive gardening tool to be developed since square foot gardening.

I'm going to grow some trees in them one day. I've been eyeing the fig trees at Blowes. Also going to do grapes, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries for sure. I spotted a key lime tree at Blowes for $17. So many things to plant, so little time.

Here's a guy who grows figs in SWCs:

http://figs4fun.com/bills_figs.html

He doesn't give sources for the containers he uses, but they are the same size as these muck buckets:

http://www.lowes.com/pd_115370-84240-TU0154_?PL=1&productId=3198981

I would go broke building the garden I want using half whiskey barrels, but those muck buckets would fit inside these:

http://www.kentuckybarrels.com/barrelhalves.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I have a self watering container garden too. I use 18 gallon totes and 5 gallon buckets. Last summer I grew tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, & potatoes. It was the first time I ever had a vegetable garden. Currently I am growing lettuce, kale, bok choy, chineese cabbage, green onions, garlic, cilantro, cumcumbers, potatoes, squash, raddish, beets and tomatoes. I currently am using nine, 18 gallon totes and five, 5 gallon buckets. I have 5 more totoes and 10 more buckets that I am preparing. Good luck with your garden! Looking foward to seeing the fruits of your sucess!
I am really jazzed at how well these things work.

I would be interested in seeing other container gardens.

There have been threads started that just roll down. I'm going to update this thread regularly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Cuke Trellis

I finished the cucumber trellis today that I started yesterday.

First pic is from yesterday before I started. Second pic is after I finished today. I swear the things must have grown 6" before I finished today and another 4" before the sun went down.

Third is both cuke and pole bean boxes and trellises. Only 2 I have finished. The bean runners are 4' long now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Madprepper:

I like your idea for the trellis. I have completed 5 SWC's using rubbermaid containers (designed from a compilation of several concepts on the web).

I plan on adding your trellis idea to my containers that will house cherry tomatoes, and another for string beans. It looks like you use 1" PVC for the base pieces, and 1/2" PVC for the actual trellis (?)

Also, do you just use lengths of twine for the plants to climb on? (I saw that idea for a pole bean trellis elsewhere)

From all the reports and pictures of SWC containers I have seen, they certainly look like a great way grow vegetables for the home gardener.
I copied this question from the earthtainer thread that turned into a hydroponic ****ing match.

The trellis supports in the container are thin wall 1". The trellis itself is 3/4". I have seen the thin wall 1" at one Lowes. I don't know for sure if 3/4" will fit inside sch 40 1"...doubt it.

I used nylon twine for my cuke and bean trellis, but not lengths. I just took the roll and passed it over the top rail and under the bottom rail several times per side and worked my way all around the container. It helps to have a helper to keep it taught, but it can be done single handed.

This works extremely well for pole beans and should work the same for peas.

I looked at the cukes today and the tendrils are catching the strings, but the vines look like they will have to be helped.

This method won't work for everything. I have watermelons that are needing a trellis next, and not sure what to do.

There are many great success stories out there about these types of containers. It's what got me started with them.
 

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MadPrepper:

Thanks for your response. I did not think of thin wall PVC for the trellis support, will certainly look for some.

I have enough land for a large garden - BUT - It's mostly trees, and the soil is either Clay or solid rock. This approach will allow some intensive gardening in a small area, free of shade most of the day.

If the rain ever stops around here I will be getting some plants in the 5 I have ready. I'm really looking forward to seeing some results.

Here are a couple of pix of one of mine:



One of my containers. I added some nylon window screen on the bottom (to aid in preventing the potting mix from falling through). I will have to add provisions for the trellis next.



This shows how I made the support for the shelf. 3/4" cedar strips that I ripped on the table saw.

Hopefully this thread will not be overtaken by off-topic comments - I think everyone can benefit
 

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Looking good MP, at least you were smart enough to spread black poly out as a weed barrier. Amazing how much that stuff has gone up in price, eh?

Trellis for watermelons? I need to see that one !!! I tried it for cantaloupes but once they get any size they either fall off or pull the vines off the trel.

I have oodles of stuff growing in containers, 16 citrus in 30 gal, 24 peach in 25s, 10 plums in 25s & 45s, 5 blueberries in 15s, 56 strawberries in 5s and 2 pineapples in 5s. I am also going to transplant the tomatoes, peppers and 10 different herbs in 7 to 10 gallon pots once they sprout. I'll also be sowing cantaloupes, squash, cukes and zukes in big 45 to 60 gallons ones.

All my stuff is self watering, meaning I water it myself. The fruit tress are on an irrigation system but I have to turn it on and off. I also like to use the garden hose on them once in a while to stir up the soil and get the nutrients washed down to the roots. I'm going to set up a drip irrigation system for the smaller pots that live on sawhorse tables as watering all those is a pain, time consuming and the pots will dry out quickly if I don't get to them in time.

Doing a bucket in bucket system would be way too costly for me but I have thought of making a 3" deep "pool" out of plywood, 2Xs and black poly. This would be much easier than hand watering all those.

Good job MP, keep us posted on progress.

Rick
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
MadPrepper:

Thanks for your response. I did not think of thin wall PVC for the trellis support, will certainly look for some.

I have enough land for a large garden - BUT - It's mostly trees, and the soil is either Clay or solid rock. This approach will allow some intensive gardening in a small area, free of shade most of the day.

If the rain ever stops around here I will be getting some plants in the 5 I have ready. I'm really looking forward to seeing some results.

Here are a couple of pix of one of mine:



One of my containers. I added some nylon window screen on the bottom (to aid in preventing the potting mix from falling through). I will have to add provisions for the trellis next.



This shows how I made the support for the shelf. 3/4" cedar strips that I ripped on the table saw.

Hopefully this thread will not be overtaken by off-topic comments - I think everyone can benefit
Looks good to me. I like the single piece construction of the lower tray.

Your holes in the tray look small enough that I wonder if you need the screen? I used 1/4" and almost none goes through.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Looking good MP, at least you were smart enough to spread black poly out as a weed barrier. Amazing how much that stuff has gone up in price, eh?

Trellis for watermelons? I need to see that one !!! I tried it for cantaloupes but once they get any size they either fall off or pull the vines off the trel.

I have oodles of stuff growing in containers, 16 citrus in 30 gal, 24 peach in 25s, 10 plums in 25s & 45s, 5 blueberries in 15s, 56 strawberries in 5s and 2 pineapples in 5s. I am also going to transplant the tomatoes, peppers and 10 different herbs in 7 to 10 gallon pots once they sprout. I'll also be sowing cantaloupes, squash, cukes and zukes in big 45 to 60 gallons ones.

All my stuff is self watering, meaning I water it myself. The fruit tress are on an irrigation system but I have to turn it on and off. I also like to use the garden hose on them once in a while to stir up the soil and get the nutrients washed down to the roots. I'm going to set up a drip irrigation system for the smaller pots that live on sawhorse tables as watering all those is a pain, time consuming and the pots will dry out quickly if I don't get to them in time.

Doing a bucket in bucket system would be way too costly for me but I have thought of making a 3" deep "pool" out of plywood, 2Xs and black poly. This would be much easier than hand watering all those.

Good job MP, keep us posted on progress.

Rick
Thanks,

Long story, but the black poly was free from a crooked house mover that I had in criminal court for several years. He trashed the first home I hired him to move by leaving open to the weather. He had to provide this replacement and his lawyer made him do it right to keep him out of jail.

I also got all of my totes for free. The biggest expense has been creating the potting mix. Now the trellis material expenses are kicking in.

You most definitely have a jump on me. I'm still at the bottom of the learning curve.

I got my trellised watermelon inspiration from this thread at the earthbox forum:

http://forum.earthbox.com/index.php?topic=1690.0

I also used the sugar baby seeds. They are 2' long now....decision time.

Self watering is a misnomer. Actually a better term is "sub-irrigated". I do lots of watering.

Did you grow your own pineapple plants?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Salad Season is Closing Out

We've had more salad stuff than we cared to eat for a few months, but it looks like the lettuce is finally going to play out.

Today I noticed that a couple of the bunches are going to bolt soon. I usually just pick outer leaves as we want to use them, but it looks like an avalanche is coming.

The first 3 pics are of my lettuce, onion and carrot boxes. I normally just thin these to provide some stuff, but with the lettuce threatening to bolt I picked an entire bunch along with the usual baby onions and carrots.

Now I have 4 gallon zip lock bags full of lettuce and much more soon.

I hate to waste food.

Last pic is my harvest today.
 

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Yep, I planted 3 pineapple tops and 2 of them lived, They're about a year old now and looking good. The ends of the frons turn brown on the lower, older ones, don't know if that's normal. I just trim off the dead parts.

That's a neat idea for supporting large melons with the onion sack, might try that on the cantaloupes.

Getting a supply of soil can be quite expensive. I use a lot of composted live oak leaves, wood shavings/chips, store bought peat, perlite and regular potting soil. Over the years of adding a few bags per year of this stuff and kitchen scraps I've ended up with quite a pile. I still have a lot more containers than soil.

What's with all those oranges laying on the ground?

Rick
 

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Old bra's tights (hose?) and stockings are good for supporting growing mellons too. Ask your SO / female relatives / friends if you are a chap or use your own if thats you bag. If you are a woman you will have some lying around.
 

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What type of soil is best for the 5 gallon buckets? I just started six of them a few days ago and the blog I was following told me that they used gardening soil mixed with humus/manure. But a lot of what I'm seeing here says that potting soil should be used instead of garden soil. So did I mess up by using gardening soil? If I did is there anyway to save what I have done so far? This is my first attempt at gardening.
 

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What type of soil is best for the 5 gallon buckets? I just started six of them a few days ago and the blog I was following told me that they used gardening soil mixed with humus/manure. But a lot of what I'm seeing here says that potting soil should be used instead of garden soil. So did I mess up by using gardening soil? If I did is there anyway to save what I have done so far? This is my first attempt at gardening.
Fear not, whatever you use you can always add supplement nutrients, so they will grow fine. Just watch for too much compaction or a surface crust forming.

In my past experience some of the stuff labeled "topsoil" or "garden soil" has a lot of sand and dirt in it. You can get that for free. I would opt for the peat, manure and potting mix, and perlite or vermiculite. Over time, by adding more of this stuff and your compost you will end up with a nice pile of great container soil that has little sand or dirt in it. What you have in your buckets may be different than what I've seen around here.

Sand and dirt really add nothing, are heavy and compact easily. A loose, organic based mix with perlite or vermiculite mixed in stays loose through the season and is very permiable so the good stuff gets to the roots instead of running down the sides and out the drain holes. I also fill each container about 1/3 with oak leaves to aid in drainage and help the mix go further. At the end of the season all this gets dumped in a big pile, mixed and new compost added.

The mix I grow tomatoes in gets dumped in a separate pile and used in repotting the fruit trees. Tomatoes usually get fresh storebought Miracle Grow potting mix every year. I try to keep them from growing in the same stuff as they grew in the previous couple of years.

Suffice to say, if your mix is dark, loose and full of organic matter it will work fine. You may need to add fertilizer or other growing stimulators to it as the plants grow. I work in 10-10-10 (or 10-0-10 in FL now) and use a lot of Miracle Grow plant food.

This is just the way I do it, there's plenty of other ways to achieve a great harvest out of pots. Some folks go all organic, some hydro, some go other routes. There are pluses and minuses to growing in pots, there will be failures, there will be great successes. Learn from these and every year will be better than the previous.

Rick
 

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Fear not, whatever you use you can always add supplement nutrients, so they will grow fine. Just watch for too much compaction or a surface crust forming.

In my past experience some of the stuff labeled "topsoil" or "garden soil" has a lot of sand and dirt in it. You can get that for free. I would opt for the peat, manure and potting mix, and perlite or vermiculite. Over time, by adding more of this stuff and your compost you will end up with a nice pile of great container soil that has little sand or dirt in it. What you have in your buckets may be different than what I've seen around here.

Sand and dirt really add nothing, are heavy and compact easily. A loose, organic based mix with perlite or vermiculite mixed in stays loose through the season and is very permiable so the good stuff gets to the roots instead of running down the sides and out the drain holes. I also fill each container about 1/3 with oak leaves to aid in drainage and help the mix go further. At the end of the season all this gets dumped in a big pile, mixed and new compost added.

The mix I grow tomatoes in gets dumped in a separate pile and used in repotting the fruit trees. Tomatoes usually get fresh storebought Miracle Grow potting mix every year. I try to keep them from growing in the same stuff as they grew in the previous couple of years.

Suffice to say, if your mix is dark, loose and full of organic matter it will work fine. You may need to add fertilizer or other growing stimulators to it as the plants grow. I work in 10-10-10 (or 10-0-10 in FL now) and use a lot of Miracle Grow plant food.

This is just the way I do it, there's plenty of other ways to achieve a great harvest out of pots. Some folks go all organic, some hydro, some go other routes. There are pluses and minuses to growing in pots, there will be failures, there will be great successes. Learn from these and every year will be better than the previous.

Rick
Thank you for the info Rick, I appreciate it. I was gettin' kind of worried! I'm planning on making a few more buckets so I'll try your "blend" of soil this time. As for the oak leaves...I'm surrounded by mostly pine trees, would I be able to use the pine needles instead of the oak leaves?
 

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I did use an awful lot of pine bark when it was free from the paper mill but never used pine straw for anything but mulch for blueberries and strawberries. I think I read somewhere the straw is pretty acidic. I guess you could use it but keep an eye on the ph of your mix. Most any broadleaf would probably work to compost too.

A couple of big bags of potting mix/soil, some peat, some manure and a small bag of perlite mixed together will fill quite a few buckets, you can stuff some of that straw in the bottoms to take up a little more space too. Good luck and if something doesn't work just try something different.

Rick
 

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MadPrepper:

Thanks for your response. I did not think of thin wall PVC for the trellis support, will certainly look for some.

I have enough land for a large garden - BUT - It's mostly trees, and the soil is either Clay or solid rock. This approach will allow some intensive gardening in a small area, free of shade most of the day.

If the rain ever stops around here I will be getting some plants in the 5 I have ready. I'm really looking forward to seeing some results.

Here are a couple of pix of one of mine:



One of my containers. I added some nylon window screen on the bottom (to aid in preventing the potting mix from falling through). I will have to add provisions for the trellis next.



This shows how I made the support for the shelf. 3/4" cedar strips that I ripped on the table saw.

Hopefully this thread will not be overtaken by off-topic comments - I think everyone can benefit
Why do you have a raised screen in the bottom of the container? I have grown in containers, just big rocks, is this the same principle?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Why do you have a raised screen in the bottom of the container? I have grown in containers, just big rocks, is this the same principle?
The raised screen is to segregate a sub-irrigated water chamber.

Do a google search on "earthtainer" and "earthbox" and you will see where we are coming from.

Just curious. Why would you put big rocks in a grow container? They are small enough as it is.
 
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