I have this amazing polytunnel but have never been able to grow tomatoes successfully. Until this year that is! After coming across a special tomato planter on the internet we decided to give it a try…
Yellow Shoulder Disorder
Last year I grew Roma tomatoes and ended up with yellow shoulder disorder. The tomatoes that is …not me of course. I was told yellow shoulder disorder is caused by extreme heat and/or poor soil conditions. The years before that, when I grew them in pots in the conservatory, I ended up with wrinkled tomatoes which is apparently caused by erratic watering.
After last year’s disaster I was determined to do things differently. I started off loading heaps of compost on the beds in the polytunnel and doing a bit of research on the internet. There I found an article about a man who made tomato planters. The concept is extremely easy, we already had most of the components required so Roger set to work.
You need wire mesh, some pipes or wooden posts to keep the wire in place (we actually used bicycle wheel rims) and a 20 litre bucket. You drill holes in the bottom of the bucket and fill it half way up with compost. Then you sink the bucket half way into the soil, plant the tomato plants around it and place the mesh around the plants.
We used a 20 litre bucket. The important thing to remember is that you will need to provide each tomato plant with 19 litres of water per week. We calculated that with a 20 litre bucket and three plants we have to water the plants every other day. We made two planters with three plants each. The variety I chose is Moneymaker, one of the easiest ones to grow.
After the plants started to flower I added some fresh nettle and comfrey leaves to the bucket but besides that no extra fertilizer was used. The mesh kept the plants in place leaving room for other plants to grow and watering was done every other day – only pouring straight into the bucket, thus leaving the leaves dry. Once the tomatoes were fully grown I removed some of the leaves near the centre of the planter to increase air circulation.
The result was amazing – we have harvested over 20 kilos from only six plants, all juicy and sweet. No pests, no fungus, no yellow shoulder disorder or wrinkly fruit in sight. We just had A LOT of tomatoes. We are definitely going to use these planters again next year and I am looking forward to trying them out with some different varieties next time.