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The hunt for a Tangerine!

A little while back, I posted about my hunt for a tangerine tree and how fruitless my efforts had been. One supplier put me onto the local wholesaler who, while seeming a bit gruff and abrupt, told me to contact them around November last year.

I didn't get around to it until now, however it seems that we're a bit closer.

They were able to look through their records and have suggested that Citrus x Reticulata Clementine is the closest strain to a tangerine that they have available and that it's sold by Bunnings.

Looking on the Bunnings site, the description of the fruit gives me a vague memory of the tree at my parents house:

Heavy crops of deep orange-coloured fruit with a juicy, sweet flavour. - Medium size fruit, with medium thickness rind. - Colour deep orange to reddish orange. - Flesh deep orange, tender and melting. Sweet tasting.

Wiki also refers to them as an 'Algerian Tangerine'

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Natural pest control

As a newbie to veggie gardening, what natural methods work best for controlling aphids, worms, etc. on the veggie plants?

I have read articles about mixing water, cayenne pepper and a little liquid soap into a sprayer. Has anyone tried this with any success?

I may give it a shot today as we have some aphids on the underside of some of the chard. They wash right off, but I don't like having to really wash and examine every leaf THAT closely before I eat it! I am sure I may have eaten a few . . :)

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Growing turmeric in North Texas

Would love advice on all aspects of growing and harvesting turmeric in North Texas climate!

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good intentions

I have a problem. I technically like gardening. I really like the idea of gardening. What I like above all is buying interesting seeds and letting them languish in a cupboard.

Where I fall down is sustaining the willpower to go out every week come wind or rain and maintain the garden. I find the work satisfying when I actually get round to it, but often put it off. Last year I also had horrible depression and didn't make it off the sofa a lot of days. I planted a bunch of things and then neglected them; it wasn't pretty.

But 2014 is another year. I have a beautiful garden (when it's been tended, anyway), and it deserves better from me. I'm not going to make grand claims that I'll be the perfect gardener this year, but with Growstuff I think I might have a chance at keeping track and thus keeping on top of things. And knowing I have somewhere to keep a proper record of my results should be a motivator. We'll see.

Happy New Year and good gardening, internets.

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I can never find good watercress, so I thought that I would grow my own. HELP! :-) I'm really not very good with plants, but don't tell the bosses at the indoor landscaping and the garden nursery where I used to work. It's winter here in Maryland, 8 inches of snow last night, so I would like to plant my seeds indoors. What kind of soil should I use and do I need a growing light and how often should I water them, how deep a planter should I use, etc. Thank you for your help! And Happy New Year!

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The Seed Catalogs are arriving

Immediately after winter solstice the seed catalogs start arriving. First one is Jung's. Can't wait for the rest to show up. In addition to the obvious OMG SEEDS GARDENING YAY, some of these catalogs have wicked good illustrative artwork.

I know for dead sure that I am planting a whole bunch of chard this year as it was my most successful crop last year. I was able to harvest from springtime right up to the end of October. I also know that I am not planting peas or beets or radishes in my raised beds. The soil mix is way too nitrogen heavy and I got lots of leaf and nothing else. So I am going to plant in the large planter pots on my upstairs balconey/deck. I have three good sized pots and one will be radish, one will be another go at the beets, and the third may be carrots or possibly snap peas on a trellis. Much easier to get the right type of soil for those specific crops in a planter than in the raised beds. My summer crops love the raised bed soil so I don't want to amend that and then have to re-amend it for the next batch of plantings.

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Reticulation for Raised Beds

I'm trying to figure out the best way to set up reticulation for my raised beds.

The area is about 3m wide by 7m long with four beds; one about 50cm wide and 7m long, the others about 1.2m wide and 1.8m long. I'm looking at using poly pipe, but not sure whether to have upright sprinklers that do more of an aerial dispersion or have something lower down similar to one of those perforated lawn soaker hoses running down the centre of each bed.

What have people found to work well with their setups? Have you seen any negative side effects from watering above or below the leaf line?

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New house, new garden

So, I am in my new house in Ballarat (zoom in!), a reasonable sized city of 88,000ish people an hour or so west of Melbourne. The move was gruelling, not least because of the garden, but it's all done now and the keys to the old place handed back.

Now my challenge is to get the veggie garden at the new place up and running really quickly as it's already December and things need to be in the ground. Not to mention that all the seeds I planted back in July-August-September, planning to use them at the old house, are now fully grown plants in pots and many of them are pretty seriously root-bound.

So, the plan is to turn a biggish chunk of the backyard into a no-dig garden, using my moving boxes as the bottom layer. This seemed like the quickest way to get things going. I took some photos so I thought I'd do a quick tour and show you how I did the no-dig thing.

This is the front yard:

Front yard

Nothing much to show yet, but I'm hoping to transplant my rosemary along the fence there, and plant some lavender and nasturtiums and warrigal greens to sprawl across what's currently grass. Next year I'd like to put a small pomegranate tree in the part of the garden that's in the foreground of this photo.

And here's the backyard:

Back yard

I want everything between the photographer and the clothesline to be veggie patch, and beyond that to have some fruit trees and chickens. Well, there are already some fruit trees right up the back, actually (an apple and a damson plum) but I'd like to add a few more: lemon, fig, and loquat are top of my list.

So, the plan is to make both sides of the photo above into veg patch, but for now it'll just be the left hand side. That's enough to fit all the plants I brought from Thornbury and then some. On the other side, and up toward the compost bins, I'm planning to dot little mounds and grow squash of various kinds, but I don't need to make a full garden bed for that.

So here's how I did the first section of no-dig garden.

Step 1: boxes!


I removed all the tape, tore them open, flattened them, and laid them so that they overlapped a bit. The goal is to provide layer that's impermeable to light, and will kill the grass underneath.

Step 2: pea straw. It comes off the bales in these sort of rectangular sheets, which you can just tile across the garden quite easily.


Step 3: I added some stepping stones from a pile of rubble up behind the shed, and started sprinkling sheep manure around. Sheep manure is not very high in nitrogen and doesn't really need to rot down the way chicken manure, for instance, does. It won't "burn" your plants in the same way. I'm pretty happy to put it straight into the garden, and though ideally I'd like to let it sit and settle for a couple of weeks, in this case I just left it a few days and it seems to be fine.

stepping stones and manure

Step 4: I added more layers of straw and manure. For subsequent straw layers, I broke up the rectangular sheets from the bale and sort of fluffed them up and sprinkled them around, then sprinkled manure, and then more straw. I continued this way until the pile was about 30cm/1 foot deep.

more layers

At each stage, by the way, I watered it thoroughly. Then at the end I watered it some more. I also gave it a sprinkle of seaweed emulsion. And then finally I left it to sit for a few days, intermittently watering it or letting it get rained on. During this time it "settled" a little, the piles becoming less mountainous and the texture becoming more solid. Later, I planted some stuff in it, but I didn't take photos. I'll do so when I plant the next lot in the second section I've built up :)

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Hardly summer

It's amazing how much less squeamish you get about squashing little green caterpillars with your fingers the more of your precious leaves they eat.

I pulled some of the leaves off the brussels sprouts branch today so the little sprouts can grow. Come along, little sprouts.

Something, I suspect a bird grabbing the slugs, did for most of my carrot seedlings. Partly, yay birds but mostly damn. Time to deploy the net thingie. Everything else seems okay. Picked and ate two sugar snap peas which is instant gardener's reward. They're not as sweet as the earlier peas but still crunchy and refreshing.

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Well, placing the markers out suggested the plan I had made for the Orchard should work (and leave room for the chook tractor to move through!) We've gone ahead and planted those—and an extra fig (because it crossed our paths, and seriously, who could resist a fruit tree called 'Italian Honey'!), and a Granny Smith apple (because it seemed a shame to waste the Pink Lady's flowers... Although it seems to have set fruit rather more rapidly than I'd anticipated, so maybe there's another suitable apple nearby!) So with those and the Pomegranate, our orchard has started:-) We also realised that we couldn't wait any longer before planting a lime, so we did a bit of a search to find a West Indian Lime (aka Key Lime), and decided we really should put in a Naval Orange now, as well. So the Citrus Grove is looking more like a Grove than just a couple of plants:-) Now we just have to keep it all alive over summer! (And oh my! How nice it is that I can take photos with my phone as I'm out in the garden, upload them to Flickr, and add the planting a and images to the site right then and there! Thanks so much to everyone who made all that work:-) )

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A colleague bought me a tray of 6 of her mature tomato seedlings today. What a score!

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Plant seeds, get seedlings

I may never get over the way you can make food from dirt. Harvested lovely handfuls of sorrel and baby kale on the weekend, making a delicious accompaniment to salmon. The radish and turnip seedlings have shot up, the carrots, beetroot and spring onions are peeking out a little more shyly. Can you eat radish and carrot greens? I can see there'll have to be a bit of thinning.

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The late sowing

Got some garden time in today, engaging in the usual jobs of slaughtering slugs, twisting the bok choy and watercress back into their pots so they reseed rather than drop seeds on the paving, tying up the sugar snap peas a bit more, watering and, at last, planting some things. I've planted little fat round carrot seeds, a mix of beetroot seeds and mini white turnip seeds in a white styrofoam box. In a shallow, rectangular yellow planter I've put French breakfast radishes (the long ones) and spring onions.

The radishes are five weeks away (20 Dec), the turnips seven (3 Jan), the beetroot between seven and twenty (though many leaves will end up in salads before then) (3 Jan - 4 April) and the carrots a long 17 weeks (14 Mar).

All going well. As long as I keep the slugs and the cat visitor away. And the fence doesn't fall down.

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Plant lifecycle, suggested site usage

I'm trying to understand how my catalog of plants will need to be updated as my garden evolves.

What happens to plants that are harvested, die, or get transplanted? Should I delete them from the site? Maybe "Harvested", "Died", "Transplanted In", and "Transplanted Out" categories for plants would be useful, where all except "Transplanted In" would be archived.

Is there any way to link a particular harvest with a particular planting?

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Hello Growstuff! I am growing some stuff in my aquafarm

Aquafarm Contents


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Hello Growstuff! I am growing some stuff in my aquafarm

Aquafarm Contents

| Foodstuff | info link | | :--- | ---: | | Wheatgrass | link

( OMG Markdown, I love this site! :shipit: )

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I have a plan...

a bit later than I'd intended (the heat/dry has started, so it's not really the time to be planting trees), but given our fig, pink lady apple and pomegranate are really needing to be out of their pots, we'll plant them anyway. The holdup has been in deciding just where to plant them, still allowing us room to plant the rest of the fruit trees on our wish list. And now, I have a plan (subject of course to checking tomorrow with stakes to make sure it actually works as I think it will:-) )

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Slow times... because I'm moving

The share house where I'm living is breaking up in December, and that means most of my spring/summer growing has been disrupted :( I started the spring with a lot of garden work and planted lots of things, but now I'm slowing down and trying to eat what's left, rather than start anything new.

So here's the current garden status:

  • Front yard: two garden beds and some containers with greens and herbs of various kinds. The last lettuce has gone to seed, as have a couple of the older chard. The kale is on its last legs, badly attacked by slugs or snails or cabbage moths (not sure which). The asian greens are being chewed badly, too, but I can't quite bring myself to care or do anything about it. There's coriander doing okay in a semi-shaded spot in the front garden bed, and some mustard greens and new-season chard that are doing well.
  • Back yard: we set up pea and bean netting up the back fence to grow all kinds of beans, but I have stalled planting on those because of the move. The snow peas have finished. The only thing growing up the netting is a patch of triffid-like nasturtiums. I have lots of miscellaneous things in pots, including the last of the beets, lots of parsley and mint, some new-season greens (perpetual spinach) and older greens (sorrel), some herbs (dill, basil), a couple of over-wintered peppers, and tomatoes and other nightshades grown from seed at the end of winter are now starting to come along well.
  • I have way more tomato seedlings than I can use. You see, I have about six varieties, and I planted a seedling tray of each, which is 48 tomato seedlings in total. I also have various kinds of peppers and some eggplants and tomatillos. My goal at present is to plant them in intermediate-sized pots (6-8") in the hope that I can stick them in the soil as soon as I get to my new place, which will be early December. Later than the ideal planting date, but not too late. I have four tomatoes that I planted in larger pots (12" earlier), and these are coming along so well I almost feel like I'll have fruit on them before I move. Eep! I've bought some small stakes for the rest, rather than the 6' monsters I usually use, since those would be tricky to fit in the back of anyone's car.
  • I'm taking cuttings from a few of my herbs (sage, lemon balm) and growing small pots of other things (warrigal greens, dill, basil) so that I can plant them when I get where I'm going.
  • I planted cucumber seedlings (from Bek) in trays just before we decided to move, and sadly I've had to ditch them. I'll take the cucumber frame with me, though, and I hope I can get something going once I'm up there, even if I have to buy some commercial seedlings.

Over on my Dreamwidth journal, brainwane asked me some good questions about how I'm going about choosing a new place in Ballarat, in terms of gardening: am I considering sun, soil quality, etc? You can read the thread here if you're interested.

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Winter garden planning and planting

I'm preparing for my winter garden right now, growing collard, pak choi, and tatsoi from seed, with spinach, lettuce, and chard from seedlings. I'm also starting broad beans now, as they overwintered well last year and came up fantastically in the spring.

Since I'm in USDA Hardiness Zone 6b and can reasonably expect the weather to stay above 10F (-12C), I can plant cold-hardy plants in my garden for the winter and have them survive.

So, suggestions for plants to put in the ground in the next few weeks?

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Pressure-washer recovery

A week or so ago, I came home to discover that my landlord's maintenance guy had pressure-washed the stoop where most of my seedlings were, damaging a number of my plants. Things are recovering slowly.

  • Of the sunflowers I planted, only one is still alive. When I set out most of them in pots, I didn't expect the pressure washer, nor rain damage from the eaves of the house. The only one left is in the root pouch saddlebag on my porch railing. It's doing okay but not great because there's not a lot of sun there.

  • The scarlet runner beans are doing okay but not great. One of the plants is in a root pouch pot tucked into the crook of a multi-trunk palm, and it's getting enough sun I think. Two are in a tray on the top of my porch staircase, and they got worked over pretty badly by the pressure washer and are just now starting to put out new growth. (I suspect that they may have also gotten some soap from the pressure washer, because the foliage has turned yellow on at least one of them in a way that seems weird.) The last one is in the shady side of my saddlebag planter, and it seems actually to be doing well, having started to climb over the railing and grow mildly upwards. I'm hoping that once the rainy season ends, I can transplant it out onto something with more support.

  • The Cherokee Purple tomatoes are still tiny little seedlings, and I'm not sure quite why they aren't growing at the rate I expect of tomatoes.

  • The Chinese leeks got wiped out by the pressure washer. I need to plant some new seeds, I guess.

  • the sage was in the same pot with the ginger, and it took a beating from the pressure washer but mostly survived. I've transplanted out some of those seedlings into the shady side of the saddlebag pot, and they're okay but not great, probably because of low light.

  • In non-food-garden news, I've had to bring in a number of my plants because they were getting too much rain and were starting to be unhappy about that. I'll set them out again once the soil has dried out a bit and the rainy season is closer to done.

In short, beware high-pressure streams of water, whether from machines or falling from the skies. The rainy season here really does a number on gardens.

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October roundup

So I was two days' drive away from my garden for most of the summer, leaving it in the care of the other people who live here. Now I'm back! I have no idea how the garden went while I was gone - they claim they watered, but everything (as usual for the end of summer around here) was looking pretty crispy by the time I got back.

Anyway, here's the result of this year's gardening:

  1. Beans: we got maybe a pint of beans? they were pretty good, though! The bean plants were completely gone by the time I got back; I have no idea if there was any harvest after I left. Two of them were left in the refrigerator and dried completely, though, so I might try second-generation beans next year, just to see what happens.

  2. The squash bloomed profusely and then set precisely 0 fruit, and then withered away; there was no sign of it when I returned. Oh, squash. Zucchini is supposed to be the plant you can't not grow around here! Alas. Possibly part of the problem was that I planted them too far apart for pollination? IDK. If I try them again maybe I will attempt to hand-pollinate.

  3. Beets: here is the entire beet harvest. I... guess it could have gone worse for a first try at root vegetables?

  4. Tomatoes: The tomatoes have grown into a thicket. I have no idea how many individual plants there are. I am getting a bowlful of cherry tomatoes every couple of days, which is faster than I can eat them, if not fast enough to be worth trying to preserve any. There are plenty ending up on the ground for next year's crop, though. And in early October, the plant is still flowering profusely, so I suspect that, like last year, I will keep getting fruit for at least another month, in complete defiance of cold and dark and rational seasonality. It is pretty much typical of my gardening history that the plants I put basically 0 effort into are the only ones giving me edible results. Maybe I should just give up on gardening all together and fall back on gathering. (A post on that shortly, hopefully.)

Anyway, I am quite enjoying that this site is cross-hemisphere! Just as I am getting discouraged at this year's garden, all you Southerners are getting excited about your new ones! Maybe I will manage to plan ahead some more, maybe I will actually intentionally grow some stuff next year, who knows.

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Transplant carrots or not?

Do carrot transplant well at all when they are small? I set up some rows of carrot seeds mixed with radish seeds, but I don't know if the carrots will be amenable to transplanting once they sprout. Has anyone done this?

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Spiny bastard

I finally found out what is growing in my flowerbeds along with my vegetables — Solanum quitoense — aka lulo, naranjilla, the spiny bastard.

I bought a few of the fruit last year as a curiosity from a vendor at the farmer’s market— the seeds must have survived composting and sprouted quite thoroughly in my garden. They’re only blooming now at the beginning of fall, so I’m wondering if it’s worth keeping a few of the plants around to see if I can get a harvest, or whether I should just cut them all down now before they eat my garden entirely.

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Growing Garlic in Perth

Does anyone have tips for growing garlic in Perth, WA?

I planted several cloves back at the start of April and I'm waiting, waiting, waiting for the leaves to dry up and go brown but it's just not happening! I know we're in spring and having what feels like some nice winter weather at the moment. Could the crop be confused?

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Do I thin squash or not?

I just planted several varieties of squash, some bush-style (zucchini) and some vine-style (spaghetti squash, potimarron). Looking around the internets, the advice is almost universally to plant three seeds in one mound of compost or whatever you're growing them in. What's unclear and inconsistent, though, is whether you should then thin them out so you only keep the one best seedling of the trio, or leave all three in place.

My instinct is to thin the bush-style squashes, but not the vine-style ones. Does anyone have any more knowledgeable advice?

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New features: places, help text, bulbs, crop hierarchy, etc

Just pushed a bunch of new things up to the site:

  • The most significant new feature is the "Places" page, which shows where our members are located. This is a fairly trivial use of our geodata, but now we've got all the pieces in place, we'll be able to do maps of things like where crops are grown, what's being grown near a given location, etc.
  • We removed "search for nearby members" and integrated it into the Places pages eg. Melbourne. These specific place-pages are now linked from various places around the site, eg. member profiles, seed sharing lists, etc.
  • We also improved the "members near a place" function so it always shows the 30 nearest members, in order of nearness.
  • As a side effect of all this, the following new endpoints are available in our "Version 0" API: /places.json (a list of everything mappable, which for now is just members, but may include other things in future), and /places/ANYWHERE.json (a list of mappable things in order of distance from that location, in order of nearness)
  • We added helpful text in a few places, most notably on the planting form (in response to suggestions from Growstuff member mamagotcha.
  • We added "bulb" as a propagation method for plantings, thanks to a suggestion from someone on Twitter (sorry, my memory is not that great and nor is my Twitter client's)
  • We added a crop hierarchy page, mostly useful to crop wranglers but potentially of interest to others. It shows crops and their varieties in an indented tree format. The same code is now used for displaying sub-varieties on individual crop pages, too.

And that's it, I think!

This release was made from the Growstuff HQ blanket fort.

view from the blanket fort

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Decorative Gourds


With the stupid cost to import seeds into West Aust now, does anyone know of WA based suppliers who might carry decorative gourd seeds?

I was able to check Bunnings but they don't, will have a look at Masters tomorrow but if anyone can point in the right direction that would be awesome thanks :)


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Swap/trade (Australia): want large planting containers, will swap for seedlings/seeds/preserves/baked goods/ginger beer

I'm in Thornbury, in the inner northern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia.

Our landlords won't let us replace the lawn with a veg garden, so we can only plant in containers. I'm on my usual spring quest for largish containers, 30cm diameter and above. We especially love the old-style rectangular recycling tubs that the cities of Darebin and Moreland used to use before they got wheelie bins -- a great size, and they already have drainage holes in them.

Do you have any of these sorts of tubs/containers available to swap?

We will swap for:

  • seedlings (tomato, pepper/chilis of various kinds, greens, cucumber, eggplant, various herbs, ummmm other stuff I'm sure)
  • seeds (lots! some are listed but I have more that aren't listed there, too)
  • preserves (chutney, tomato sauce, plum sauce, kasundi, indian-style pickles, pear and quince jam, quince paste, I forget what else)
  • baked goods (especially fresh-baked bread or ANZAC bikkies)
  • sourdough starter
  • homemade ginger beer or ginger beer plant (seasonal, hasn't quite started yet, but will in a few weeks I think)

Oh and on the ginger beer topic, we'll also take any plastic soft drink bottles you have, especially 1.25L or 2L ones.

Drop me a note here or tweet at @Skud or email


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Revamped Herb Garden

I have been meaning to post photos of my herb garden reconstruction that was done in Spring 2013.

Before -- Clearly a mess. Way too much time needed for weeding even with mulching.

herb garden before

During the process after the old garden was cleared out and the box was laid down. Then we laid down barrier cloth and refilled the box with the 1/3 peat, 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 compost mix, added in the grids, lights and started planting.

herb garden during

Pretty well finished with the start of the herb plantings.

herb garden after

As an added bonus the lights make pretty patterns at night.

herb garden lights

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Smallest viable containers for tomatoes, peppers

We have an over-abundance of 20cm/8" and 25cm/10" pots. I'd normally grow peppers (mostly small ones like jalapeño pepper, not huge bell pepper) in 10" pots and tomato in 12" pots. I'm wondering whether maybe I can get away with 8" pots for the peppers, move some of the tomatoes down into 10" pots, and have more of the larger ones (12" and above) available for other things.

What do you think? What's the smallest viable container? Any tips for growing these plants in small pots?

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