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Large Containers.

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zabado | 12:53 Thu 22nd Oct 2015 | Gardening
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I've grown some tomatoes and some cucumbers in large containers.The containers are 4ft long 2ft wide & 18 ins deep. Can I use the same compost next year or can I dig half of it out and replace it with some new compost or do I have to replace all of it. At three bags for a £10 it gets a bit expensive, this year I had to buy over thirty bags and I don't like the idea of just throwing whats left on the front garden. Also what additives or chemicals do I need to add to put some "goodness" back ?. This might seem like a really dumb question but I've recently retired and this is my first year of gardening. Thank you.

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Replacing compost defeats the purpose... compost will continue "composting" and eventually produce earth. Add just a little chicken manure (it comes in a bag here in the U.S) and is weed free) and maybe a bag or two of regular soil just to bring the level back up due to the settling of the compost. It's a lot cheaper than compost...

Use caution in planting next year though. Cucumbers and tomatoes should not be grown in proximity since both are susceptible to Black Spot. In fact be sure to thoroughly clean the soil of any leaves or branches from this years crop you mentioned and then it wouldn't be a bad idea to spray the areas with Dormant Oil in the spring before replanting... just to assure no Black Spot spores have carried over...
Addendum... I'd seriously consider planting root crops in the area for next year. At 18 inches deep carrotts, onions and beets (think ya'll call them "beetroots") would do well and they can be planted closely to each other. No worries about Black Spot or other similar spore carried diseases either...
... If it were me I would remove some of the compost and replace it in the spring with fresh compost. When you have paid only £10 for 3 bags you must have noticed that the compost was full of twigs and stuff you dont associate with compost. This year I had to sieve the stuff I bought before I used it. The increase of bulking agent was dramatic compared to previous years... same old story you get what you pay for.
This year I've had around 80 tomato plants in various locations including my greenhouse, polytunnel, open ground and in containers hanging on a fence. By far my best producers were the containers. They were filled with the more expensive compost that came from Miraclegrow Growbags.
It was about £5 a bag, but worth every penny. I would suggest spending a bit more and getting just a few of these to replace some of your old compost in the containers. If you think about it .. to grow a plant you remove nutrients from the compost. Container plants cant replace these nutrients by themselves, so topping them up is the only solution.
But I would suggest creating a compost bin and replacing everything every couple of years, so as to keep the risk of disease down. If all your garden waste goes in the bin then within a year you will be creating your own compost, which is by far the best, as you know what has gone into it.
Only yesterday I was given another composting cone, I now have 6 of them sited around my allotment ... just load them up and turn the contents with a fork every now and then. Next spring I will have plenty fresh compost without the rubbish in it .. all free !

Ps ... still picking tomato's now ..
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My problem is the lack of space. My wife grows flowers and shrubs in our small front garden. I grow garlic and herbs on a strip of land down the side of my house and I also have a small paved area at the back of the house where I have my large pots and a ten foot by six foot greenhouse. I don't have anywhere to put a compost heap that's why I thought I could do with some additives or nutrients to put in my existing large pots and just leave them to do their thing over the winter. Could I not mix horse manure or dead leaves in the spent soil and leave that until spring.
By the way "alavahalf" I ended up with about 30 or 40 lbs of tomatoes and 25 cucumbers off my plants so it wasn't a complete failure, and your right they do taste a lot better.
Glad to hear that you had some success .. so it's onwards and upwards to next season. As Clanad previously stated chicken manure pellets are a simple way to put something back, you can also consider 'blood and bonemeal' or growmore...all are available in smaller quantites from Wilko or eBay.
I usually wait until they have end of season offers and buy a couple of buckets then.

Or you could tell the wife to clear some flowers beds out, as you need to gain 1 sq yard for a compost bin ... dont mention me though !
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Thanks for your advice gentlemen. One more question though, My friend has a stable and I can have as much horse manure as I need so, is that as good as chicken sh.....! sorry I meant to say manure.
Sure Zabado, as long as its well rotted.

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