Pots or beds?

Polytunnels, cold frames, greenhouses, propagators & more. How to get the best out of yours...

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Geoff
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Pots or beds?

Postby Geoff » Tue Apr 05, 2016 11:44 pm

Do you think Peppers, Chillis and Aubergines do better in a greenhouse / polytunnel bed or in large pots?

I'm pretty sure I have read somewhere that they do better in containers because the compost gets warmer.

I also have a dim recollection about standing the pots on white reflective sheet to give the plants more light.

So should I cover a bed with some of the white-on-black sheeting, white side up, and grow these crops in something like 23cm or bigger pots?
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Re: Pots or beds?

Postby Pawty » Wed Apr 06, 2016 7:41 am

Hi Geoff,

I can only go by my experience which is very limited........

I've never successfully grown aubergines either in pots or grow bags on the patio of in one of those plastic zip up things. I thing they need a a greenhouse and a bit of space. Also, in the zip ip thing, the temperature wasn't controlled - it got very hot, then cool, then very hot, which the plants and seedlings absolutely hatted. They did a good discussion on aubergines on the allotment challenge a few years ago.

Experience with peppers is the same. So have given up with peppers and and aubergines until I get a greenhouse or decent polytunnel.

Cucumbers - now grow outside varieties only which do fine in big pot, raised bed or open grown.

Chillis and tomatoes - I always start them off in the spare bedroom windows with the curtains and blind closed - both are white so give extra light. They grow so much better when I do this. So white backing reflecting heat and light does in my opinion help.

Chillies, I've always grown in pots as I can move them around to get the most of the sun until late September and can then over winter them easily with a new top dressing. The ones I've seen in the allotment in open all look a bit small. Coold cover - need regular water though, so not ideal if you can't get to the allotment regularly?

Tomatoes, grow better with more space - I grow in either a raised bed in the garden (so I can water frequently) or at the allotment in the ground where they're left alone a bit more.

As I said - I still consider myself a newby and always learning...

Pawty
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Geoff
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Re: Pots or beds?

Postby Geoff » Wed Apr 06, 2016 10:45 am

Thanks for all that.

I don't grow any of those outside, I've even given up planting out spare Tomatoes just to see if I am lucky. I'm trying to find out if pots stood on greenhouse / polytunnel beds out perform plants in beds and if a reflective mulch helps.
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Re: Pots or beds?

Postby robo » Wed Apr 06, 2016 2:32 pm

My wife grows cherry tomatoes , she has them everywhere in summer in pots in the pollytunnel in hanging baskets even in troughs (the cheap plastic ones) gives far more away than we eat
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Re: Pots or beds?

Postby Westi » Wed Apr 06, 2016 6:08 pm

I've had success with Peppers & Aubergines in the greenhouse. I grow them in canvas type big pots, some of them are tall and some are lower but wider. If it is very dull for days on end and towards the end of the season I put heavy duty aluminium foil behind them to reflect as much light as possible back on them & it cuts down on the draughts as well. Chillies I grow at the allotment with a wind break surround.

The pots are all in a line, so I put a cane in each pot & unroll the foil right across all of them securing it to the canes with some plastic coated thin wire. In the row is cucumber, aubergine, melon & peppers & they do fine. I bought the pots at Inxcess
I think, 3 different sizes in a pack for about £5. I will never use grow bags again, although if you turn them on end with just one plant in them they do better then when flat.

Westi
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Re: Pots or beds?

Postby Gerry » Thu Apr 07, 2016 7:14 pm

A few years ago I bought a length of 6" plastic drain/soil pipe and cut it into 5" sections. Into these I sow my tomatoes, aubergines, peppers and squash into mpc. The bottom of the pipes have scallops cut, one on each side, and these stand on my leaky hose which runs the length of the tunnel bed. The roots are watered by the leaky hose and fertiliser is watered onto the compost.

If I was doing it again I would get wider pipe and increase the length of sections to about 8". However results have been OK so far.

Regards, Gerry.
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Re: Pots or beds?

Postby Monika » Thu Apr 07, 2016 9:14 pm

Geoff, I can imagine that these fruit plants would do better in pots because their root run is restricted and they therefore concentrate their efforts in the fruit rather than extensive foliage, but that is just my theory. I certainly always grow them in pots and not very large ones either.
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Re: Pots or beds?

Postby PLUMPUDDING » Fri Apr 08, 2016 4:08 pm

I grow them all in bottomless pots or large cut off drainage pipes in the greenhouse borders. Some tomatoes make more root than others and grow into the border soil and some stay mainly within the pipe. Peppers and aubergines are in smaller bottomless pots and I have some of the green ones with the outer bit for watering and pointed jimps round the bottom that peppers do well in. I always use the largest pipes for tomatoes. They keep moist longer on hot days and the nutrients in the compost last longer. It is also handy if you go away for a few days as you can flood the borders with the hose before you go and the plants can obtain enough water to last until you get back.

I think if you have plenty of space they don't need to use reflective things. I've tried all sorts of different methods in the past but am in a can't be bothered faffing about mindset at the moment. I don't grow any of them outside now as they do much better under cover up here.
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Geoff
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Re: Pots or beds?

Postby Geoff » Sat Apr 09, 2016 6:22 pm

Thanks for all your replies.

I haven't remembered or turned up where I read that pots are warmer. It seems the majority of you agree pots are better but (contrary to popular myth) it seems size doesn't matter though there is perhaps a preference for around 8". Last year, like Plumpudding, I grew a few Peppers and Chillis in bottomless Tomato rings (9" at the top) on a polytunnel bed and they were my best plants compared with some in beds and some in 7½" pots in the greenhouse (that's what prompted this question). I tried to buy some more rings earlier in the year but couldn't find any at a reasonable price but I did get six 10" pots that I may use as they are or with the bottoms cut out.

I did remember where I had seen white-on-black plastic, it was Beechgrove Garden, but I couldn't find the details. I emailed them and they got back to me to say it was a Sweet Corn trial in 2014 but it wasn't very successful but probably more to do with conditions than method. This is the fact sheet, almost the last item http://www.beechgrove.co.uk/module_uplo ... t_23_4.pdf. I see Westi does try and increase the light with reflective sheets behind. I've decided that standing on white sheets might give more light but it cools the soil below, I'm thinking bottomless pots on a bed that also warms up so perhaps keeps them warmer at night is probably the best option.

What I would like to do is get the waist high plants you see on TV from time to time, mine are never anywhere near that big. Do they start them a lot earlier? Mine are just out of the propagator and into the greenhouse from sowing on 7th March and just getting their third pair of proper leaves, do they need to be bigger than that by now?
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Re: Pots or beds?

Postby Primrose » Sat Apr 09, 2016 7:27 pm

I,ve always grown my chillies peppers and aubergines in pots because I only have a mini greenhouse so once they get big enough they go out onto my patio against the house wall which absorbs heat for at least 50% of the day. They seem to like warm compost and I thinkmpots warm up more quickly than garden soil. I also need to be able to relocate them to a shady spot where they don't dry out whenever we go on holiday. They've always done quite well grown in this way, chillies in 8" pots, peppers and aibergines in 10" because they grow taller. I've grown surplus plants in a border but they have never fared so well and the fruits have always been much smaller. My pot plants are pampered with extra chicken manure pellets added to the composts which I suspect keeps them going through the long growing season required. Have never tried reflective materials but am probably the stage in my life where I want to simplify things rather than making them more complicated. :( . .
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Re: Pots or beds?

Postby Dawlish » Mon Jan 02, 2017 8:30 am

Monik3a wrote:Geoff, I can imagine that these fruit plants would do better in pots because their root run is restricted and they therefore concentrate their efforts in the fruit rather than extensive foliage, but that is just my theory. I certainly always grow them in pots and not very large ones either.

click here
I always just keep my chillies in pots. I'll try planting them this year and see how it goes.
Last edited by Dawlish on Thu May 04, 2017 10:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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sally wright
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Re: Pots or beds?

Postby sally wright » Mon Jan 02, 2017 9:26 pm

Dear Geoff,
I have grown most of the tomato family over the years and this is my take on pot sizes. I have available 3, 5, 7.5, 10, 15, 20 and some 50 litres. Please bear in mind that I will be growing the aubergines, chillies, bush tomatoes and sweet peppers be on greenhouse staging as I find that they do best if up off the floor. I have the use of some very strong staging which is built to hold 65 four foot window boxes plus yours truly twinkling all over it (and Moi ain't no Tinkerbell). My final potting mix is a rather heavy one usually made up of what ever potting soils I can re-use, garden soil and garden compost. I increase the soil fertility by adding 4g/L of a pilled general purpose fertilizer. I will also liquid feed as the season progresses.
I do not have an automatic watering system available so I tend to err on the larger size of pot to help prevent poor fruit set, blossom end rot and cracking. All my pots will have a saucer of some kind during the hotter months. I use whatever I can find ranging from proper saucers and window box trays for the smaller size pots to blue mushroom crates with a compost sack liner for the larger pots that are not stood on earth. I do a single sowing of almost everything except the cucumbers which I sow at the end of March and the end of May. I might also sow a dozen cherry tomatoes in June to see if I can coax a Christmas crop but I don't always do so.
The chillis, sweet peppers and Aubergines will need staking but I don't usually do this until they need it as the cane will hold better if the rootball is developed. I use 3' canes cut from 6' ones as they are thicker and stronger. I generally final pot in the first 2 weeks of June when the glasshouse and polytunnel are empty of the flowers they are supposed to grow.
After germination I will prick out into 2"cells and then pot up into 4" pots, with a pinch out for the peppers and Chillis at the potting stage.

Chillis; If I am growing a variety for the first time they go into 3L and if I grow them a second year and I think the plant warrants it then I may go to a 5L. Generally habanero types in 3L and scotch bonnet types in 5L. Sown in the 2nd week of Feb

Sweet peppers; I only grow the pointed peppers but the smallest pot I would use is a 7.5L and If I have the space and soil I would go up to a 10L. Peppers in full fruit can be top-heavy so they need the bigger pots for stability. Sown in the 2nd week of Feb.

Aubergines; these need a minimum of 10L with the bigger fruited sorts in a 15L pot, again they can be rather top heavy. Sown in the 2nd week of Feb

Tomatoes - bush (determinate); these need at least 5L pots for the cherry sorts with bigger pots for the larger fruited kinds up to 10L. Again these are bench grown. Sown in the 2nd week of April

Tomatoes - cordon (indeterminate); these need a minimum of 15L pots for cherry kinds (with a saucer or resting on earth) which have 5 trusses or less. 20L pots for the rest in saucers etc up to the same number of trusses. However if you plan on more trusses per plant than that then at least 25-30L with a saucer etc. Sown in the 2nd week of April

Cucumbers; I do not grow these in anything less that a 20L pot and I have a few bigger pots that I use as well. I have tried using a net to grow these against but the best method I have found is to put 3-4 five or six toot canes in each pot and wind the vines around the outside and tie them on. As the plant grows and the lower leaves die off you can gently push the vines down to make room for new growth at the top of the canes.

I hope this will help you.
Regards Sally Wright.
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Geoff
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Re: Pots or beds?

Postby Geoff » Tue Jan 03, 2017 7:46 pm

Thanks for all that Sally. I'll have to translate the pots/rings I used last (edited from this!) year into litres and compile a proper report! I grew some Tomatoes in pots last year for the first time for ages, I usually use wooden 'grobags', and had some excellent Aubergines (probably best ever) and Peppers (Chilli and Sweet) in rings on a polytunnel bed.
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Re: Pots or beds?

Postby Westi » Tue Jan 03, 2017 8:27 pm

Wow impressive Sally! That is indeed a thorough answer and very informative.

Can I ask you about the cucumbers? When you gently push down the vines do you just leave the lower part on the top of the soil or push them down into the soil? I do OK with cucumbers in the greenhouse but they can overtake the space above & are bare at the bottom especially after you have harvested the first ones.
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sally wright
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Re: Pots or beds?

Postby sally wright » Tue Jan 03, 2017 9:33 pm

Dear Westi,
the vines are spiralled around all the canes in the pot at approximately 45 degrees so the vine looks a bit like the stripe on a barbers pole. It squishes down easily from that angle and the stem does not break.

Dear Geoff,
most large plastic pots have the literage on the bottom. If not then take a smaller pot which you do know the literage of and bail compost into the bigger pot and work it out that way. I did this with some plastic waste paper bins I liberated from the skip and then wrote on the inside base of the pot what the literage was with a permanent marker (I find that the ink does not wear off or fade when it is done on the inside). It does not have to be exact just a genera idea.

I forgot to say that all my cordon tomatoes are grown in a polytunnel which has a weed fabric membrane over earth so I do not use saucers in there but I will not move the pots about so they can root into the floor which evens out the watering and adds much needed stability.

Regards Sally Wright.
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