Self-Watering Tomatoes, Tips and Tricks (You’ll want to Pin this!)

It’s time to plant your tomatoes!

Here are some tips and tricks I have learned along the way that save money and help your tomatoes grow:

  1. Tomatoes need to be very warm.  I recommend potting them or if you plant them in the ground, cover them with a cloche.
  2. Whenever possible put your potted tomatoes up against the house in a very sunny location.  Your house will emit additional heat and draw the sun toward your plants.
  3. In the Pacific Northwest I’d recommend a determinant variety for your slicer variety of tomatoes.  I’m growing Early Girl Bush Variety!  I got this tip from a master gardener.  Determinant means they set fruit all at once and the plant grows more like a bush.  A stout plant is easier to manage and supports larger fruit better.  Setting fruit all at once may seem like a bad thing but it isn’t if you want ripe tomatoes.  A few weeks before you want to harvest start depriving the plants of water and they’ll focus their energy on ripening the tomatoes already on the vine instead of making new ones.  You may also want to pinch off tomatoes that are small and have no chance of maturing in time.
  4. Watering evenly and regularly is how you get smooth large tomatoes without rot or cracked skins.  If the skins crack it’s because they went with too little water then had too much and they grew too quickly for their skin to keep up.  Like people, the skin is the last to get the benefits from water.  Hmmmm… that makes me thirsty. 😉
  5. For cherry tomatoes I recommend an indeterminate variety because smaller tomatoes ripen easier and this way you’ll be able to harvest throughout the summer.  Keep in mind indeterminate varieties grow tall and will need staking of some kind for support.
  6. Tomatoes can get blight.  If you see signs of blight carefully remove the infected parts of the plant taking care not to touch healthy parts afterwards. Blight is a fungal infection that makes them black and icky.  This happens because they are wet or have poor air circulation from being planted too close together.  Poor or infected soil (or planters) can cause this too.  I bought new soil to pot mine.  I use organic compost although I am seriously considering Tagro.
  7. A very good way to avoid blight from wet plants is to water your tomatoes at the ground so the leaves don’t get wet.  And remember moist soil is good but wet is bad.  Stick your index finger in the dirt up to the first knuckle.  If it comes out dry you need to water.
  8. A super easy way to cloche a potted tomato is to put up stakes then wrap around the outside of the stakes with plastic wrap.  I bought plastic wrap from Costco so I have plenty to spare.

Self-Watering Tomatoes on the Cheap!

You know those 4″ black plastic pots your tomato starts (or other plants for that matter) come in?

Don’t throw em out!  Instead bury them a few inches deep next to your tomato plants and add a little dirt to slow the drainage.  Then just add water to them as needed. The water will seep out through the drain holes into the soil. 🙂

Close up 1 close up 2 Close up 3

Here’s what the boys did while I was setting up my tomato’s. 🙂

It's bright outside!

It’s bright outside!

Hank and Gideon playing in a kiddy pool.

Hank and Gideon playing in a kiddy pool.

This Week’s Store Deals (Frugal Thursday’s)

Fred Meyer

  • Ore-Ida Frozen Potatoes (fries, hash etc.) 2/$4 plus manufacturer coupon makes it just $2.50 for 2!
  • Fred Meyer brand sour cream 16 oz size is $0.99 each limit 4
  • Pilsbury Grands are 10/$10
  • Country Time lemonade (several varieties) are 10/$10
  • Personal Size Watermelon and Whole Pineapples are on sale 2/$5
  • Post Shredded Wheat Cereal is on sale for $3.87 add the $2 off 1 manufacturer coupon to get this cereal for only $1.87 per box!

Albertson’s

  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast’s are $1.88/lb at the butcher!
  • Kraft Dressing Packets are $0.88 use the manufacturer $0.25 off 1 and you pay $0.63 each!
  • Garland Jack’s Secret Six BBQ sauce is 10/$10

Safeway

  • Hormel Natural Choice Lunchmeat is on a buy one get one free deal (BOGO)  It works out to $2.50 each which is a fair price.
  • Tillamook 2 lb block cheddar cheese is on sale $3.99 limit 1.  I’ve seen Albertson’s run this same price with far fewer restrictions in the recent past.
  • Hefty Trash Bags scented 54 count store deal $5.99 add the manufacturer $0.55 off 1 and you pay $5.44 each! Limit 3.
  • Kellogg Frosted Mini Wheats and Honey Nut Cheerios are on sale for $1.88 and $1.99 respectively.
  • Kraft brand BBQ sauce is on a store deal for $0.79! Limit 1.

Dear Jesus, please bless our garden and thank you for sunny days!  I pray this post will help others. Amen.

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