90 Pounds Of Tomatoes From 5 Plants

If space is limited, try growing your tomatoes in a double-ring cage.

January 28, 2015

Illustration by Steve Harrington

After removing an old plum tree, I wanted to plant vegetables. I forked the soil as deep as I could manage, then added rotted manure, compost, and fresh kitchen garbage. Off to a good start!

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At the lumberyard, I bought 7 feet of heavy wire fencing about 6 feet high. I had the clerk cut a 3-foot length of small-mesh hardware cloth that stood about 30 inches high.

I lapped the hardware cloth into a circle about 11 inches wide and secured it by threading wire over the edges. Then I set this circular basket in the middle of my fertilized plot and filled it to the brim with compost. The larger, 27-inch circle of heavy wire was placed around this center and firmly anchored with soil heaped a few inches around the base.

Next, I planted five tomato seedlings around the outside of the heavy wire circle. I watered them weekly by placing a slow-running garden hose on top of the compost basket. As the vines grew, I tied them to the outer circle with strips of nylon hose.

About 90 days after setting out the seedlings, I gathered 2 pounds of sun-ripened tomatoes. I continued regular watering and refilling the compost basket as its contents settled and washed down through the mesh. By the middle of October, I had picked a total yield of 90 pounds from five plants.

So, try growing tomatoes in an organic double ring if space is limited. You’ll find they can’t be beat!

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