Have to grow in containers?

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This month's Consumer Reports looked at two self-watering patio boxes--what a boon in this heat! CR recommends either one. (The photos show them to be quite deep.)

Planterra Anywhere Garden, $20 at garden centers, 1.5 sf of growing area. Enough for small herb garden. 1.5 gall water reservoir is east to fill; has wicking mat to move water to plants. Easy to tell when reservoir is empty. Drain holes prevent ovrwatering.

Self-Watering Patio Garden, $40, plus S&H, gardenerssupply.com, 3 sf growing area, holds 4 galls water. Remainder similar to above.

I know Gardeners Supply has self-watering planters for tomatoes, other veggies, but I can't remember how much they cost.

The June issue of CR concentrates on home centers, ext. paints, deck stains and garden tools--very handy info for most forumites. Other ratings are of airlines, room ACs, mountain bikes, bike helmets, condoms and Ford Windstar, Honda Odyssey and Mercury Villager vans. CR is available at public libraries.

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), June 09, 1999


OG - Does CR discuss the ability of the self-watering containers to ward off problems like blossom end rot in tomatoes (caused to some extent by calcium deficiency and to large extent by uneven watering)? If so, they are a real boon. If not, there might be certain species that would not work as well. Thanks for the heads-up!

-- Brooks (brooksbie@hotmail.com), June 09, 1999.


There is a way that I use to make a water reservoir container out of muck buckets, big plastic totes or our favorite, ye olde 5 gallon bucket.

| | | | drill hole---> | | | | ___________

Measure 1.5 to 2 gallons, for 18-20 gallon containers into bucket or tub, mark water line, drill 2 or 3, 1/4" holes thru the plastic at that level. If you desire, you can cover the holes with a piece of screening or remay as you fill the container.

Fill the container with a good potting soil liberally laced with water absorbing polymer crystals -- you can buy a one lb jar of the stuff at Lowe's for about $10, and a time release fertilizer,like Osmocote, all well mixedSee the packages for application rates. Water the soil mix well --the crystals will expand several fold. Haul your container to where you want it, then fill your container to within 4" of the rim. Set your plants, add more of the soil mix and water again if needed.

Check the soil moisture every couple of days and water as needed. Your plants should be very happy and grow like crazy -- mine are. The heatlovers like eggplant and tomatoes love being parked on a south facing black top driveway against a brick wall, while herbs can tolerate this or a less sunny and tropical situation.

I don't grow corn this way, so I have no idea how it would perform but peppers work in this system, basil gets huge, rosemary thrives, and sage and mint turn into behoumoths.

If you really get into this system, you might want to find a greenhouse supplier and buy the soilless mix, water absorbing polymer and time release fertilizer in bulk.

Happy growing,


-- urth (urthmomma@aohell.com), June 09, 1999.

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