Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Planting Tomatoes with Wall O' Waters

We have had a few questions in the past week about how we use Wall o' Waters when planting early-season tomatoes.  The simple answer is that you plant them in a very similar manner to planting at any other time of the year - there is no special soil, watering, or nutrient requirements.

Essentially, you are creating a one-plant greenhouse, and you just have to space the plants accordingly.

In the video below, you will see how we do this in a planter that measures 42" x 42".  We have found that we can successfully get 8 tomato plants into this arrangement.  Later in the season, when we add the tomato cages, they happen to fit perfectly, so it's a design we are quite happy with.

Deb also points out that we seek out doubles/triples when purchasing early-season tomatoes.  This occurs when seed starting is done using 2-3 tomato seeds, and they all germinate.  You get more tomatoes per plant location this way, and it's a neat trick to boost overall yield in your garden.

Buying tomato starts from a nursery or farmer's market in March and April is also a great way to save money.  You see, the price of a seedling is based upon how much time/energy/electricity/nutrients have been put into growing them.  The longer they are in the greenhouse or nursery, the higher the cost.  Therefore, getting out there early not only gets you the chance of getting a double/triple plant, but you also pay substantially less for younger plants.

When planting the tomatoes, it's also important to know the ultimate size of the plant at maturity, and to choose locations that cause smaller plants not to be shaded out by larger ones.  We place Roma's, which are smaller, in key locations in our planters, and then choose our locations for others based upon other criteria.  We call this tomato negotiations, and the one in this video is one of the easiest we have done in 10 years.  Often, these negotiations can take days, if we can't reach agreement.

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