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.
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.
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.