For some folks, it’s a favorite picture on the wall, or unpacking a treasure that makes a place feel like home. This weekend, I planted tomatoes and finally felt settled in. It reminded me of a useful trick I use to keep a Wall of Water tepee from spilling, flopping, crushing and otherwise annoying the $% out of you while you are trying to fill it with water. Most of you are probably past frost season, so just file this away for next year. Here in Torrey, the word is not to plant frost-tender plants until the first Saturday in June. When I was at the farm supply store, I even overheard two women saying they would wait until the Saturday after the first full moon in June. (BTW, our farm supply store has some really cool stuff.)
We like our tomatoes A LOT here at the bunkhouse, and if you start them in June, you won’t get much production before the frost gets them in September. The wall of water contraption extends the season by protection the plants in a cylinder of solar-heated water. The frost has to freeze the water before it can get to the plants inside. When I used them in Salt Lake City, I regularly planted out a month before the last frost date.
The only problem with this Wall of Water object is that you are usually setting them up and filling the tubes with water in cold and windy (early spring) weather). And until they are full, they are not very stable. More than one has tipped while being filled, dumping its contents on me, in my shoes, all over my plants. Not fun, especially if the plants get squashed.
I don’t remember when I figured this out, but if you take an empty container (a 5 gallon bucket works well), remove the handle, and set it over the plant, you can drop the Wall of Water around it. The bucket supports the tubes as they fill. No more spillage from floppy, partially filled units, and the bucket protects the plant if you accidentally squirt a hard stream of water as you shift the hose position around.
We didn’t have deer pressure in SLC, so I hadn’t really thought of it before, but maybe they will help protect the toms too. This very morning eight of the marauding beasts ambled through the orchard. They went around the caution tape enclosure where the tomatoes are, and then I chased them off.
In an instant, I could see my future. Deer fence. Dog. Water cannon (are paint guns legal this close to town?). It was all in the queue anyway with the apple orchard, but the tomatoes will accelerate the program. Will do just about anything for a sweet summer tomato.