Want an early start to your tomato harvest? Here is an experiment I did this year to see if using cold-weather protections (like Wall-o-Water) would really make a noticeable difference in production. Last month I told you about using protection to get an early start on planting crops. This spring I wanted to see how much of a head start I could get on tomatoes using Wall-o-Water. The results were significant.
I planted 12 tomato plants on May 10th. Eight of them were protected with Wall-o-Water (’cause that’s how many Wall-o-Water I had) and four had a simple cloche, made from a 1 gallon plastic jug with the bottom cut out. I wanted to see if the simple cloche would be enough protection from the cool May nights and if it was enough protection, how tomato growth in the cloche would compare to growth in the Wall-o-Water.
We had a cold snap the third week of May with three or four nights in the low 30’s and a couple nights that got to 30°. When the weather was completely warmed up with no more chance of frost, I inspected the plants inside the Wall-o-Water and the cloches. The four tomato plants under the cloches were all dead but the tomato plants inside the Wall-o-Water passed through unscathed.
The first week of June I planted an additional 10 tomato plants and replaced the four that died. A week later, after they were well established in the garden, I measured how my plants were doing. See the results for yourself:
The tomato in the top photo was transplanted in early May and is 25″ tall. The one on the right was transplanted about 4 weeks later and is 14″ tall. In fact, all the tomatoes that were inside the Wall-o-Water were 22-26″ tall and several already have blossoms. The ones that were just put in to the garden are 8-16″ tall.
So it’s Settled
This fall I will buy another dozen Wall-o-Water . Only next year I will get an even earlier head start. Instead of early May, I will start them in late April and do both tomatoes and peppers.
Four years later, I now put all my tomato and pepper plants into the garden a good 2-3 weeks before the last frost date and protect them. But Wall-o-Water is no longer my favorite kind of protection. Read my review of The Guardian, hands down the best protection for your cold-sensitive plants.