Container Vegetables

This year I tried something I hadn’t done before, growing vegetables in containers.  I got this idea from “Epic Tomatoes” by Craig LeHoullier.  I grew eggplant and dwarf tomato plants (seeds purchased from Victory Seeds, see Resources for more info on Victory and “Epic Tomatoes”) in some five gallon (19 liter) buckets.  These photos are from a couple of weeks ago.

from left, eggplant ‘ichiban’ (2), tomato ‘Polish dwarf’, tomato ‘dwarf sleeping lady’, and tomato ‘dwarf sweet sue’ all growing in containers

The vegetables were planted in an inexpensive soil mix supplemented with peat moss and slow-release fertilizer.  They are bottom-watered; you can just see the green saucers that I used as reservoirs.  Strips of capillary matting carry water up into the soil.  I added large commercial tomato cages to help support the plants.

The plants got a late start as I wasn’t sure how well the bottom-watering setup would work and delayed planting until I felt confident in it.  As it turned out, my design is working well and keeping the soil moist.  Despite that, I had problems with blossom-end rot earlier in the season with all three tomato varieties.  I added crushed eggshells when I planted the seedlings as a source of calcium to help prevent this, but perhaps the eggshells released calcium too slowly.  The problem disappeared and the plants have been producing a lot of fruit lately.

My eggplant grew and produced well, probably as well as if they had been growing in my usual raised garden beds.  The only problem I had with eggplant this year was the usual flea beetle invasion.  I tried removing them by hand but although I killed dozens, if not hundreds, of these tiny pests, they kept coming and ate thousands of little holes in the eggplant leaves.  There’s more information about them in my Beetle Battle post.

eggplant ‘ichiban’ growing in containers

Several fruit were growing on the eggplant when I took this photo.  Now that the weather has gotten cooler, the plants aren’t producing as much.  If you look closely, you can see the damage caused by flea beetles.

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About brianbreczinski

work: chemist, NMR manager; hobbies: gardening, reading, photography, electronics, biking, woodworking
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3 Responses to Container Vegetables

  1. Can you still find eggplant “Ichiban” seeds? I thought I was the only one hoarding them when they were discontinued. I have one last plant growing now, also in a pot. If only I can keep it growing forever 😄

    • I guess I forgot that eggplant ‘ichiban’ had been discontinued. I think I bought some extra seeds but now I need to check how many I have left. ‘Ichiban’ is a hybrid, so we can’t save seeds and expect to get the same plant.

      A quick web search shows that there may be some seeds still available, but they are probably getting old. You can also buy plants from Bonnie Plants. For more on the demise of ‘ichiban’ and many other varieties as a result of Monsanto’s purchase of Seminis, see “Bye, Bye Mr. Ichiban: The Discontinuation of Ichiban Hybrid Eggplant” and the articles linked to within that blog post.

      For possible alternatives, see “Ichiban Seeds or Alternative” on GardenWeb. I’ve tried some alternatives such as ‘slim Jim’, but ‘ichiban’ is (was) my favorite.

      • Thanks for the info. I’ve tried Slim Jim but found them to be too small and seedy and the plants from Bonnie plants don’t seem to be the true Ichiban. I’ve used up my seeds, unfortunately. I’m actually thinking of trying to get cuttings from my one plant and see if I can keep a few rooted cuttings growing indoors thru the winter. Nothing to lose!

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