Sunday, April 25, 2010

Planting Early with Wall 'o Waters

It's the second season for The Octo Garden, and we are proud to have 16 Tomatoes in the ground by April 25th - one of our best starts in 10 years of gardening.  We already have dozen Peppers in the ground too, but the rains this afternoon kept us from increasing those numbers.

We planted our first 3 tomatoes on March 28th, and another 5 a week later.  They have all seen snow (deep snow), yet are thriving right now because they have been protected by a product called a Wall 'o Water or more easily - Wallowater.

The first tomatoes planted 3/28/10

The next 5 got their Wallowaters on 4/4/10

The wallowater was a product we found in 2002, and have been using ever since.  They are a series of tubes (no, not famous Ted Stevens Tubes that make up the internet), that hold water in a cylinder around a plant or group plants.  They allow us to make annual plants perennial, plant tomatoes and other veggies up to 2 months before last frost, and can extend the season 2 months after the last frost too.

They are very simple to use, in that you just fill up the tubes with water.   It only takes about 2-3 minutes to fill one up with a garden hose.  You have to be careful as you get close to filling each tube, however, because a high-pressure hose can end up squirting water back up - into your face.

Setting the wallowater up over the plant can be done by one person, but it's best done with two.  one person holds the weight of the filled wallowater , and the other pulls the sides apart to fit over the plant.  Then, once on the ground, you pull the base farther out to "teepee" the wallowater .  This effectively makes the wallowater a mini-greenhouse.

During the day, the water takes on UV heat which then keeps the inside of the wallowater from freezing at night.  This works even if the water freezes, as the heat from the earth below rises up into the enclosed area.  This is how you can put Tomatoes in the ground at higher elevation, northern latitudes, or anywhere that has an annual freeze up to 2 months before that last freeze.

An evening shot of the Wallowater-protected Octo Garden

The ones that are in the center planter above have been on the "perennial" plants.  We covered the Thyme, Rosemary, Oregano, Chives, Tarragon, Lavender, and Sage.  All of them survived one of the longest and coldest winters that many people in CO can remember except for the Sage.

The Tarragon did so well, we actually harvested 5 large sprigs for a Chicken/Wine dish that Deb has mastered, and this week, all of that plant material has regrown.  These things are just amazing.

The harvest for dinner

There was this much MORE left after Harvest #1

Although Thyme can survive a Colorado winter, it is probably best considered an annual.  We have had some survive several years in our first garden, but generally they had to be covered with leaves to really do well.  But, in a Wallowater, they thrive and are more like small bushes.

Silver and Lemon Thyme
English Thyme

The Rosemary did well, but is still working on getting up to thrive-mode.   There is still some brown stuff that will be covered up soon, and the plant is not as large as the others.

Two Rosemary are joined by a Dill and a few weeds.

The Chives had their wallowater removed in mid-April as they were filling the entire interior space, and they have natural resiliance to even snow.  They were partially buried in one April storm, but already look full and deep green before May.

The peppers have been snug in their wallowaters for 3 weeks, and while not as large as the tomatoes, they are full, green, and starting to show signs of flowers at their nodes.  These will be more than 2 months in the ground ahead of our earliest pepper last year - and we expect to have peppers that much sooner too!

Early Peppers

Pair of Peppers in Wallowater

It's amazing how many people still don't know about this great product, and don't take advantage of this inexpensive solution to having veggies earlier in the season, growing larger veggies, and for keeping herbs alive in early spring after a long winter.

No comments:

Post a Comment