The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Tip top care for tomatoes

new tomato plant and resevoir of water“You’ve spent hours on the Internet. What exactly are you looking for?”
“I’m trying to decide what disease our tomatoes are suffering from. If I can identify it then we can treat it.”
“Why? The great thing about our vegetables is that they are not treated with chemicals.”

Having lost fifteen tomato plants to an unfathomable disease (blight?), I just wanted to find out what had gone wrong. I discovered that there were so many tomato plant ailments that my head whirled and I gave up in the end.

I took a deep breath and hoiked out the diseased plants, even though most of them had flowers. I’ve ignored danger signs in past years and the harvest has been thin.

I was determined to give the replacements the best care possible so I returned to the Internet for advice. I discovered that if you put a plant in a five gallon drum it has a great future. We don’t have any five gallon drums knocking about so I read on and discovered that our preferred method, grow bags, are fraught with problems. Poor water retention leading to weak root growth.

I learnt that if I placed each tomato plant in a bottomless pot, plunged into the grow bags, the plants would produce better root systems. Cutting the bottoms off 15 of these plastic pots was challenging. My wrists ached.

Apparently I was not giving my plants sufficient water. Particularly towards mid summer, when the plants have grown and are flourishing and the roomy grow bag is still exactly the same size.

This is where the upturned bottle reservoirs come into their own. You cut the bottoms off a number of plastic bottles and stick one into both ends of the grow bag, neck first. Bottles with long thin necks work best. Then you top them up every time you water. The water stays in the bottle until it’s needed. The bottles were half full this morning but empty by the evening and this is only June.

We drank bottled water and tonic like mad (forget the gin) so as to release the bottles into the wild of our grow bags. Tonight, finally we have the ten bottles in place in our five grow bags.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Good point, Thomas. Thanks for dropping by.

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