April 23, 2012 - The Bucket Brigade Begins

*Post #2 of 2 for today*

It's time to get the bottomless tomato buckets ready for the season.


First I hosed them all out to remove the loose dirt.  Then I filled a non-bottomless bucket with water, and added about 1/2 cup of chlorine bleach.  That's probably at least double the bleach is really needed, but I always tend to overdo things.


Then I submerged each bottomless bucket into the bleach water, and used a long handled brush to clean around the top where the water didn't reach.  I left the bottomless bucket in the bleach solution for about five minutes, then removed it and let it sit in the sun to dry while I soaked and scrubbed the next one.


I lined the buckets up on the west side of the patio.  A heavy duty tomato cage was inserted into each bucket.  Usually I run the long wires at the base through holes drilled around the edge of the bucket bottom, down into the soil.  However, these buckets are sitting on lava rock, so I had to bend the wires and just fit them down inside the buckets.  Each cage was secured to a picket with heavy nylon cable ties, and then smaller zip ties were used to attach each cage to the one next to it.  A hurricane couldn't tip them over now!  I'm planting some compact growing tomato plants in these, so I placed them as close together as I could.


There was still plenty of room to walk through here, so I decided I could add three pots for hot peppers, too.  I don't like to put the hot peppers out in the garden, as it's too fertile and they get too much water.  They always end up being sweet rather than hot.  Everything down this "tomato alley" has to be hand watered, so I can control the amount of moisture the peppers receive.


Another six tomatoes can go here, against the fence.  I'll put the taller growing plants there, as they can be tied to the 1"x2" vertical posts.  The cages go down into the soil in this bed, and are attached to the posts with cable ties.  Just three more and the green buckets will all be ready to fill with potting soil.  I was just finishing up when son John came to help me with another project.

Don't forget to read about it in my earlier post #1 for today!


35 comments:

  1. Impressive brigate! Can't wait to see your wall of tomatoes come July :)

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    1. Jenny, it's much closer together than usual, so I fully expect a wall if not a forest!

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  2. Great! When are you going to transplant your tomatoes?

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    1. SunnyBeach, I should wait until about May 10, but I'll probably start tomorrow ;-) Our forecast is looking pretty good, and it's warm and sheltered in "tomato alley", so I think it's safe. I will probably wait a few more days before I plant the others, out in the main garden.

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  3. I'm so sad I won't have tomatoes this year. I'm growing just one little Cherokee Purple. Just one. Sob!

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    1. Poor Daphne. I think I'm up to 17 plants now (didn't I say 12, max?), not counting the four big Minigolds. You watch, I'll end up with two dozen. *sigh*

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  4. I was wondering when those buckets would make an appearance!

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  5. Hi Annie, Those tomato pots are so nice and neat! Maybe it is a good thing you don't live next door to me! lol I am not nearly so efficient or organized! Nice job! Nancy at Cozy Thyme Cottage

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    1. Thanks, Nancy. I'm not as organized as I'd like to be, I tend to do what I like to do and put everything else aside until the last minute! Like laundry or dinner ;-)

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  6. I really need to get some 5 gallon buckets. That is such an awesome space saver. Oh! And I corrected the cinny bun recipe. I can't believe I forgot to write down the yeast! DOH!

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    1. LOL, Tiny Gardener! I KNEW you forgot the yeast. Now I can try your recipe.

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  7. Is that rhubarb in front of Tomato Alley?

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    1. Stay @ Home, that is rhubarb. I put the plant in last year, so it looks like I'm going to get a harvest this spring :-)

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  8. Looking nice! Next year I should bleach my containers too! Hopefully I won't have too many problems with diseases!

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    1. Charmcity, I got smart this year...I didn't clean and bleach them in my bathtub!

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  9. How do you purchase such a large quantity of potting soil? We're thinking of growing potatoes in burlap bags, but the thought of buying bags and bags of potting soil just for a few potato plants doesn't seem smart.

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    1. Liz, I just bite the bullet and do it. I buy one large bag of cheap potting soil to one large bag of good garden soil, to one bag of composted manure (I figure it will take about 3 of each if I'm lucky. I mix them all together with half a bag of peat moss and some vermiculite or perlite. In past years I've had enough composted manure left from the load I get for the garden, but this year I ran out so have to buy it by the bag. If I were going to have to purchase it for potatoes, I'd just get the cheapest garden soil I could find, by the bag. I'm pickier about what I use on tomatoes. I think garden soil is cheaper than potting soil or mix.

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  10. Beautiful....even empty and not growing yet, I know there is yumminess to come!

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    1. I hope so, 1st. Man. I always worry whether there will be a good tomato crop or not, and usually by the time they all begin producing I wonder why on earth I planted so many! Last year, however, wasn't a great tomato year, so here I am planting more than I planned on ;-)

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  11. Oh myy. I need a whole yard worth of these buckets and won't be affording that so will have to plant in the ground and do the red mulch and pray hard. I do have a couple of buckets though so might try the cherry tomatoes in them. do they get enough soil to produce for the larger plants or do they actually get crowded even in the big buckets?

    I need to up-pot again tomorrow b/c ours are way too stressed in their cups. lol I have 4" pots but that's too small so next is six inchers that I got for free from someone. I am guessing I might run out of potting soil funding though so am picking the best of the bests for my garden. I even sold a bunch of them this year and made so far like $85 haha. I love it. I told Tera we're having a "blow out sale" and selling the rest we don't use for a buck before we have a lot of wasted plants. Cracks me up. I don't think we'll go this crazy next year though. 12 plants...that's reasonable. lol

    Saw your idea for extending the potting soil. Where do you mix it all up? I have limited space so wanted to do some homemade soil but wasn't sure where and how to mix that big batch!

    Nice cleaning job. I have to wonder WHAT happened when you cleaned them in your bathtub! lol I cleaned a bunch of pots in the kitchen sink and was getting worried about rocks in the dispose-all so decided to risk some slightly dirty pots. I can't wait to see how your well planned tomatoes fare!

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    1. Amy T., The buckets have big holes in the bottoms, so the roots grow down into the soil and do not get root bound. The buckets are used mainly to save space, as I can plant other things around them, or to keep the tomatoes in an area where the automatic sprinklers won't hit them and I can hand water them. With drainage holes only, they would still be good for dwarf, compact or patio type tomatoes.

      I have the large dump cart for mixing the potting soils, but I used to just do it on the driveway and haul it out in the wheelbarrow.

      You wouldn't want to see my bathtub after cleaning dirty buckets in it! YUK! I was potting plants at the kitchen or bathroom sink when it was too cold in the shed, and I know what a mess that makes.

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  12. I didn't know that hot peppers were less hot if you watered them alot. I guess it is a good thing the anaheim peppers got a lot of water last year. They ended up being so hot we can hardly eat them. The last batch of green chili I made was so hot I choked and couldn't quit coughing. I did notice that the spring chilis were much more mello than the fall chilis. I think our summer heat has something to do with it. 115 should make just about anything this manages to grow in it hot.

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    1. I don't know, Peggi. I grew jalapenos that were sweeter than sweet, not a hot one in the bunch. I wrote to the seed supplier, and he said it was too much water and too fertile soil. The next year I grew them in pots and didn't fertilize them. I only watered them when they got droopy. They grew hot....they were from the same packet of seeds as the sweet ones. Maybe I'll try both ways this year and see what happens. We get 100+ summers here, too.

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    2. Oh, both of your comments came through, I deleted the other one.

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  13. Looking good, but only 17 tomato plants? I can't believe that with all that room you are going to be stingy with tomatoes!

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    1. Well, Ed, you have to consider the four Minigolds, too. That brings it to 21. Then there's the tiny Pixie that just refused to germinate, but finally did. That will end up as a potted one on the patio, so that makes 22. There is no room in the main garden for them this year, and with its overhead sprinkling, it's not a great place for them anyway....but I might find a dry corner somewhere ;-)

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  14. I love that tip for twisting the wire with the drill; I'll be using that (and telling people that I thought it up all by myself)!!!

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    1. IG, be my guest! Or maybe I should say be son John's guest, as he's the brains behind it.

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  15. Not what I was expecting to see, my thoughts went something like "what is AG doing now?!?"- lol, simply prepping for tomatoes, and doing the twist! ;)

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    1. LOL, Kelly, I expect to be way too tired to do the twist today, after I mix up all that soil and fill all those buckets!

      By the way, I accidentally clicked on your name instead of reply. Do you know your profile comes up as "unavailable"?

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  16. Now that's a tip that I can totally use! Making hot peppers not so hot. My family doesn't like spicy food at all, but you just can't make salsa without jalapenos. I'll have to give it a try and see if I can come up with the perfect not-so-hot jalapeno for my salsas. Your garden is looking fabulous, btw! I'm looking at those raspberry canes and thinking that I wish I'd planted some berries this year.

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    1. AnywhereEden, it would be worth a try. Keep them well watered and feed them with a high nitrogen fertilizer and see what happens. It may have just been a fluke of the weather, but you can read the seed supplier's reply to me here:

      http://annieskitchengarden.blogspot.com/2009/08/august-12-2009-theres-customer-service.html

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  17. You know Annie, I read many, many blogs about gardening, but I have to say, I enjoy yours the most! Thank you!

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    1. Thank you, Linda. How nice of you to say that!

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