Thursday, October 2, 2014

Should You Grow Tomatoes in Grow Boxes?

This year, our good friends gave us some tomato boxes that they were no longer using.  (You can see the ones for sale here.)  I was excited about trying them, because tomato boxes seem to be a great way for gardeners with little space to grow full-size tomatoes, and I wanted to give it a try and report to my FC&G readers.

We got the boxes around the first of June, so we were a little late in planting in them.  Nonetheless, I put three cucumber vines that I thinned from the garden into one, and two volunteer tomatoes into the other.  For soil, I used sifted compost alone, with no soil amendments, because I was too late and too lazy to go get peat moss or any kind of soil lightener.  You can see what the boxes looked like by the middle of July in the photo.

First, the bad news.  My cucumbers didn't make it, and that didn't have anything to do with the boxes.  I got two or three cucumbers off the vines before they succumbed to a cucumber beetle attack that I fought over Fourth of July weekend.  The poor things didn't have a chance, although I think the limited amount of soil in the boxes also meant that there was nowhere for the roots to spread to help nourish the plant while it battled the invaders.

The tomatoes were a different story.  Although I only got maybe a half a dozen fruits off my two tomato plants, the vines were healthy and happy.  In fact, they are still setting fruit.  With a frost scheduled for this weekend, I will be considering whether I need to try to bring the boxes indoors or if the heat sink created by the house wall is enough to protect them from one cold night.

So, I'm going to go ahead and pronounce the grow boxes a moderate success, although I may update my analysis when I do a final tomato tally for the year.  I'll know more when I finally pull these vines and see what the roots look like, but I certainly plan to use the boxes for tomatoes again.  Who knows, once I get good at growing in boxes, maybe I'll be more ready for the day that we retire to the south!

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1 comment :

  1. Yes I grow tomatoes in tubs and pots and they dont seem to mind. As long as I water and feed them they seem to do ok. Mind you the self-seeding ones are far more robust than any I deliberately plant.
    Ruth - Western Australia