Growing Micro Dwarf Tomatoes In A Vertical Barrel Planter
One of the most effective and efficient ways that I have found to grow tomatoes and get big yields, is growing micro dwarf varieties in a vertical barrel planter. They are really fun to grow! They are small, take up minimal space and can easily be grown inside or out. Also they do not consume a lot of time to manage. I have always said that to attain the best results from growing micros, we should grow multiple plants at the same time.
Getting The most For Your Money With Micro Dwarf Tomatoes.
Yes, the key to maximizing yield from micro dwarfs is growing in multiples. This works out great because it really doesn’t take much more effort or space to double, triple or even quadruple your yield. You can literally grow four micro dwarf plants in a one foot square area. I know because that’s literally what I do. Although I have never really measured it, growing four micro plants will take up just about that amount of space. I have great results doing things this way. Usually I grow about 50 plants on a six foot long folding table. Previous article here.
So What Is A Vertical Barrel Planter?
My vertical planter is basically a 55 gallon barrel (could be anything smaller or larger) with measured slots all around it to facilitate plants. Mine has legs so it stands about 1 foot off the ground. I also got one with a composter made of PVC pipe (6 inches) down the middle. A composter is not necessary though!
This composter has small holes from top to bottom of the PVC pipe, which allows composted fluids from to seep through. There is also a way to collect compost tea from it’s bottom. In the composter, some people put compost worms which can freely move through the holes to the soil and back. I have done that but only when I grow inside. I think that it gets too hot in the summer. That would definitely kill the worms. The composter does work well too when planter is in full sun. No worms though.
Micros, like all other varieties come in different sizes. The smallest cultivars are about 3-4 inches tall, with the tallest being between 8 and 12 inches. In the barrel planter, I always plant the smaller growing varieties in the top slots. That way they do not take away shade form the others at the bottom. When the bigger growing varieties are on top, they form a blanket of shade tor everything below, but tomatoes love sun! So there you have it. my secret method. Bigger ones at the bottom, smalls at the top! Baammmm!!
Mark Your Varieties Clearly
If you plan on saving seeds, you may want to consider labeling your plants. My planter is 5 rows/levels high, so for each row (a complete circle of holes) I plant other variety. But you can do two or three varieties per row if you want. Just make sure to label them properly and early.
Now To The Top Of Planter
If you fill your planter to the top with soil, then you have another spot for more plants. Some people use theirs for planting flowers, greens, onions and herbs such as parsley, thyme, oregano and basil etc. Me? I just plant more micros!! You can grow whatever you want up there as long as it doesn’t crate to much shade for plants below. Go get em!
Watering Your Micro Plants
Because my planter is so deep, it’s difficult to deep water it from top to bottom. I use Pro-Mix for this purpose and that is a very loamy soil. Water penetrates it quickly. But still its depth would make it difficult to water from top to bottom. So I water each slot individually. Yep! One by one I water as deeply as I possibly could. Depending on the weather conditions, one deep watering can last as many as 4-5 days. I have found this to be the most effective and efficient method.
Just A Note:
You can literally make a micro dwarf tomato planter with any container. I have seen home-made 5 gallon bucket planters and some other commercially feasible ones of all different shapes and designs. Find something that works for you, knowing that you can’t go wrong with growing micros!