Category: Gardening


EarthTainer Update #5

I apologize if these EarthTainer updates are getting boring! When we grew our last tomato plants three years ago, they looked nothing like these, so we’re really excited with how well things are going, and I want to document the process so we know what we want to change next year.

As you can see, the plants are gigantic. I know the height is a bit deceiving because they’re already up off the ground a bit due to the container, but they’re about as tall as Mike and I are. You can’t even see the cages anymore!

Speaking of which, you can barely see it, but this weekend we had to anchor both cages to my poor Meyer lemon tree to the left there. The plants had both started leaning to the right a bit and taking the cages with them, so we gave it a bit more stability. We also gently secured some of the larger branches to the cage.

Next year we will definitely be attaching the recommended cage to the container!

It’s a good thing tomatoes turn red when they’re ripe because these little guys are getting harder to spot now that the yellow blossoms are dropping off.

Mike also ran a line from our drip system into the watering pipe. We’ll still be manually filling it up with the hose, but this just insures that it’s not going to get completely dry between fill-ups.

I also just realized that I’ve never shown how we put up our solar shade. We did this last August with solar sheets we bought at Lowe’s. I don’t remember what the package said, but I want to say it blocks up to 60% of the sun’s rays or UV damage (it blocks something!). We did this mainly because, while we love our little courtyard area, it turns into a virtual oven in the summer months.

It’s surrounded by windows (two sets of sliding doors, our front doors — which are all glass — and two windows next to the front doors. There is also a smaller set of windows that go into the laundry room) and when it gets full sun during the day it raises the temperature of the surrounding rooms quite a bit, too (regardless of curtains and shades!).

So we designed the set-up ourselves, and spent a long, hot afternoon putting it up. It made a noticeable difference in temperature, and you can see from the band of sun across the sliding door how much it blocks. It’s slackened a bit in the last eight months so we’re going to tighten it up again soon, but hopefully it’ll keep the plants from frying.

We also decided we’re going to hold off on planting anything else for this season. I really want to grow some zucchini and peppers and jalapenos, but we need to make sure the tomatoes make it through the summer heat okay before we invest in any more container equipment and grow media.


EarthTainer Update #4

We have baby tomatoes! The Sweet 100s have been blooming for about two weeks now, and the blossoms are finally starting to drop off. They’re being replaced by the tiniest little green orbs.

The Beefsteaks are also starting to do their thing, and the girls love seeing the difference between the two plants. Where the Sweet 100s have small, delicate little blooms, the Beefsteaks are much bigger and seem to be more closely bunched.

Once again, in just two weeks you can see how much taller they’ve gotten. These plants are thriving, and the stalks on both of them are so much thicker than the plants we tried three years ago. The EarthTainer is doing an excellent job so far!

I’m hoping we’ll be able to get around to starting at least one more container this weekend. We definitely want to do zucchini, and I’d love to do red peppers and jalapenos (altogether that would be two additional containers), though it’ll depend on what the garden center has.


EarthTainer Update #3

Wow, what a difference two weeks has made! The last time I updated, the tomato plants in our EarthTainer were maybe ten inches tall.

In just two weeks, they’ve grown about two feet and we barely managed to get cages up around them before they got too big. They’re filling out like crazy, too, and the main stalks are nice and thick.

We had some warmer days last week, getting up to about 85 or so, but then the wind blew in over the weekend and brought the mid-60s back with it. They don’t seem to be affected at all, and the Sweet 100s continues to kick out blossoms. The beefsteak is taking its sweet time, but looks great otherwise.

I’m trying to talk Mike into getting started on a couple more containers. We wanted to wait and see how the tomatoes did first, but by the time they fruit I’m afraid it’ll be too late to get anything else going, especially with our heat.

What are you planting this year?