Wall O Water

msmarieh(Z5/N IL)May 21, 2003

So what are people's opinions on those wall o'waters? They are plastic cylindrical tubes that you fill a little over halfway with water. You place them around your plants and supposedly you can put them out up to a month earlier (i.e. start tomatoes outside in April) and up to a month later in the fall.

I have just ordered some and am going to try them out (not that it makes much difference now in Chicago, but I can use them more in the fall).

Do they work? Do you love them? What is your opinion on these devices?


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I have some that are quite old--I've taken good care of them but some years I don't even use them. Mine are clear plastic but I think the new ones are green plastic. I don't think they would be as conducive to plant growth since the color filters out the other colors of light the plants need. I hope someone who knows more about how light color affects plants will weigh in on this.

MOgardener--not to be confused with MOgardener1

    Bookmark   May 23, 2003 at 10:12PM
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I used them for the first time this year. It sowed here in New Jersey in the spring after I had planted my early tomatoes. The Wall O Water was completely covered by snow and the ground around it was frozen. The plants did great hidden inside.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2003 at 7:30AM
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faithling(z4 VT)

I tried them on peppers, tomatoes and melons the last couple summers. Since we tend to have cool nights here even in summer, I thought it might give those heat-loving plants a little extra warmth at night. Planted some of each variety with and without WOWs to compare. The results were inconclusive -- in other words not a big enough difference for me to be wowed by the WOWs.

Maybe for folks with well-drained soils WOWs can give you a jump on the season. In my heavy soils, even with WOWs or other season extenders, it just doesn't pay to plant warmth-loving vegies before consistently warm weather arrives.

WOWs are also kind of a pain to set up and maintain. You have to juggle and balance the thing when you're filling it with water (don't do it on a cold day cause you'll get all wet) and dirt and mold gets into the tubes so they get pretty scummy looking after a while. The first year I carefully cleaned them all at the end of the season (not a fun job)so last year I just thru them in the garage when I was done. Not sure if I'll bother with them this year.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2003 at 10:39PM
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sportster1977(Z4 North Dakota)

Here's my thoughts. This year was my first year with a greenhouse and I used thermal mass to help stabilize the temperature at night. I had four barrels of water, same theory Wall of Water. From what I've learned there is no way in heck that small amount of water in that large amount of surface area will heat your tomatoes for more then a few minutes. I'm thinking if you do like the extended harvest people do and build a cold frame tomato size and fill some 2 litre pop bottles with water and place them inside. Perty much just scrap lumber and recycled plastic bottles, has to be cheaper then WOW and do a better job.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2003 at 12:00AM
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In my experience if the surface of the land is a little bit uneven the whole thing collapses. It almost broke my peppers. I just stopped using them. It is a hassle and a half.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2003 at 2:49AM
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Trying to get them set up is like wrestling sith an octopus!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2003 at 4:04AM
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malanga(z5 IL)

Well, this was my first year using WOWs, and I had heard many good and bad things about them. I only used three of them for some tomato seedlings. I planted them out on Easter weekend here in zone five, and at first they did nothing. However after a week I did see them begin to grow, and eventually grow out the top of the WOWs. The temperatures dropped to close to freezing severl nights, but they were all fine the next morning. This spring has been unseasonably cold here in NW Indiana, so I was rather impressed by the amount of growth they gained considering how chilly it has been. I did prepare the planting area in advance by using a raised bed (which warms up sooner) and covering the bed with a window frame to warm up the soil several weeks before planting them. As of today the tomatoes are about 2.5 feet high and all have flowers. I may get tomatoes by July 1, a month later than I had hoped, but sooner then the other tomato plants are likely to produce.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2003 at 9:38AM
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wolflover(z7 OK)

I love WoWs, and have been using them the past 3-4 years. I use them mainly to get early tomatoes. The plants this year that were planted early in WoW's have tomatoes that will be ready to eat in 7-10 days. It will be at least three weeks longer before my other plants have tomatoes ready to eat. We cut the bottom out of a five gallon bucket, and use the bucket as a support when setting up the WoWs. It works great to hold them steady when filling the cylinders with water during set up. I buy the WoWs during the fall sales for around $1.00 each. I think they are wonderful and highly recommend them for getting an extra early crop of tomatoes.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2003 at 11:27AM
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I finally tried one this spring on a tomato. Not impressed first try, other tomatoes I set out a few weeks later are healthier looking, more blooms and some even have fruit set.

Also, I couldn't make the WOW open wide enough at the top even when filled to the top with water. Finally decided to take the thing off. What a mess. Glad I did it before the tomato got too big!

Having said all that, I will try again but perhaps a month earlier. I may also try it for squash, cukes or melon.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2003 at 11:45AM
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bushpoet(z6 Bronx NY)

Hey all. I used them for early cukes & squash under our plastic hoophouses in April. They survived all sorts of weather during our extra cold winter & extra late spring. Got early fruit too, from the seedless cuke. I like 'em! Used 5 gallon buckets to set them up. Was a snap (esp. if you have an extra set of hands).

    Bookmark   August 28, 2003 at 5:23PM
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If you don't like the product itself, you can do the exact same thing with water filled 2 Liter soda bottles (take off the labels) and put the lids back on.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2003 at 12:41PM
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I've used them now for 2 years because we usually have cold, wet springs here into May or even June. Those tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, melons surrounded by WOWs grow faster and start to fruit sooner than those without. The difference is obvious because I can see it in my garden. WOWs will protect my plants into fall and am hoping for a longer harvest.


    Bookmark   September 9, 2003 at 4:36PM
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Amen to Violet. I found WOW less than worthless because they fall over and damage my plants as well as being ineffectual. 2 & 3 liter soda pop plastic bottles don't cause as much damage but are less stable than one-gallon mik jugs. I've found black plastic painted gallon milk jugs set inside a cold frame are the very best. You can paint about thirty cazillion of them with one dollar can of spray paint from Big Lots or the dollar store. Fill'em full of water and let the sun soak heat into them and they are the next best thing to a stove and at a cost of about a dollar (and you've just recycled something). My Dad goes me one better. He uses them as convenient holders for electric wire around his garden. He strings the wire through the handles. Filled with water and painted black they help keep the frost away (he covers his plants with a lightweight plastic sheet just a step up from a plastic drop cloth) and the varmints out of his garden. If they get through the field fence and up under the plastic the rabbits, coons and squirrels have a rude shock (non-lethal) awaiting them. He does live in the country (far enough you can't get cable nor pizza delivered) so no persnickety neighbors complain about what his homely solution does to their home values. My folks live out of their garden so stretching the season is very important to them and their elderly neighbors with whom they share.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2003 at 7:56PM
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I've been reading everyone's opinion on these.....and have decided to try them. Does anyone know if they are available (in California) in any stores, or do I have to order from the Internet? Our stores would be Home Depot, Lowes and Orchard Supply(have looked there and they don't even know what they are)

    Bookmark   March 6, 2005 at 2:13PM
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I just happen to be glancing through these 2003 messages and see that your question is just posted today.
THE WOW's have become pretty mainstream since 2003. Many garden centers/catalogs sell them - as well as repair kits for them (when one tube leaks, you slip a new tube inside.)
I see them at park seed and several other well known garden catalogs. The wallowater website has a list of retailers in California that sell them, as well as information.

Here is a link that might be useful: the wallowater company

    Bookmark   March 6, 2005 at 4:42PM
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I just set mine up for the first time yesterday. It was so very easy. I put them around a 5 gallon bucket, filled them 3/4 of the way, removed the bucket, pulled out the bottoms and they automatically teepeed. I did the first three in about 10 minutes. They appear to be stable as heck.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2005 at 12:26PM
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habitat_gardener(z9 CA/Sunset15)

I haven't used them, but one of my gardening friends fills them about two-thirds and then folds over the tops. They stay stable that way, but her main reason was that the day after she set them up, she saw little mosquito larvae swimming at the top of every tube! She also keeps them on all season to keep the rats and squirrels away.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2005 at 6:49PM
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lilyroseviolet(Maine 4and 5)

Chickens knocked mine over today with help from 2 boys ages 4 and 6.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2005 at 12:11AM
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thandiwe2(6b SW Pa)

WE had a lot of rain last year and lots of early blight. I got the theory that WOW increased the blight but limiting circulation in the cold rain last May but I didn't have any control group to compare so who can really say.

DH found some black stone tiles that are about 12" x12". I put them near the eggplant and they did really well


    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 9:25PM
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I just use milk jugs filled with water and one jug with the bottom cut off to put on top of the plant. By doing that planted out tomato plants amonth earlier. Cheeper then wow and work great.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 11:04PM
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staggart(z4 S.E. ID)

I'm trying Wall-O-Waters this year for the first time.

I've had some of the same issues as mentioned above: a bit hard to fill & damaging if they fall over.

My solution: I've placed tomato cages inside and filled the Wall-O-Waters to the top.

The result has been no falls and things are growing great.

I planted peppers (some in Wall-O-Water and some under hotcaps). The WOW ones are more than double the size and set fruit a week ago. My squashes are growing very rapidly and tomatoes are setting fruit (our last frost date is May 22nd and most people just put their tomatotes out --- I've had mine out since May 1st).

What has impressed me is that I've had these results despite 4 weeks of cold, rainy weather.

I will definitely use them again.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 2:13PM
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naturalstuff(Z6 / CT)

Yeap, just catching up on this thread. Nice to see it's still going after 2 years. I recently saw the WOW in the Burpee website. The concept grabbed my attention and then the post confirmed it.

What I'm trying to figure out is how to customize it. 2 liter bottles are not nearly as tall as the WOW's. How about pvc pipes?

Gotta think of something.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2005 at 10:14PM
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Old thread - but I just bought a different brand of the same type product. It is called "Season Starter".

I left a thermometer inside overnight. It seems to keep the temerature about 10 degress warmer than the thermometer that I have outside the product. Same is true today, which is grey & rainy. Outside it is mid 50s, inside the protector is mid 60s.

It is awkward and 2 of the ones that I bought were leaky. I hope that I dont destroy the plants when removing the things.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2006 at 6:41PM
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MOGardener had commented on colored WOWs. I have only seen clear ones. Color has been found to affect different plant families positively. Territorial seed claims that red increases tomato yields while green increases melons and cucumbers. It has to do with the different light rays that are reflected. Silver is supposed to aid against thrips, aphids, white flies, and flea beetles.

I know reflection works- one time I planted one cherry tomato plant against a Silver Stream trailer. Grew over five feet tall- I brought in pints of tomatoes daily for over a month!

In my area WOWs are traditionally used on tomatoes. I suppose red ones would work well. Green ones should be used on cucs and melons.

I have never used WOWs, but this year I am going to try the mulches, particularly for the watermelons. I found a variety that may do well in my zone through Seed Savers (seedsavers.org) called Blacktail Mountain. I am going to put plastic milk jugs over the seedlings until they are going well to add some heat (cut the bottom, leave the cap off during the day for venting).

For tomatoes, if the summer is cool I may replicate my Silver Stream experience by laying some tin foil in an appropriate place to reflect the heat. WOWs are just too pricy for my budget to experiment like that. I should be able to get enough heat cheaper.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2006 at 8:29PM
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harleysilo(7 Roswell,GA)

Hey everyone, we are getting a frost the next couple nights here in GA, I am planning on covering everything with tarps. Have also been told to run the sprinkler all night.

Was wondering, would there be any benefit to tarping everything and then running the spinkler over all the tarps?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 8:52AM
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Territorial seed claims that red increases tomato yields while green increases melons and cucumbers.

It's not just Territorial Seed that "claims" this. This was proven by university horticultural studies a several years ago.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2007 at 9:45PM
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here in michigan i am trying to find a way to extent the season for green pepper plants.mine are full of small peppers when the season is over(sept-oct) another element is that i garden in pots .i am wondering if i could make a cold frame using the wall-o-water idea and 2 liter pop bottles or gallon milk jugs.one problem would be that the bottles or jugs are not tall enough. if i try to use two layers stacked the air would escape.maybe it would work to use two liter bottles and cut the tops and bottoms off the middle ones and glue them together making a tall bottle. i could use corner posts to strengthen it so a top could be put on. do you think a large cold frame like this would stay warm enough.it sounds time consuming but the winters here are loooooong and cooooold.thanks

    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 5:31PM
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I've been mildly interested in trying the WOW, but it seems from reading the posts that it might not be worth it.

Last year i sunk a very large container about 2/3 deep into the ground. I planted a Husker Cherry Red tomato plant inside a tomato cage and wrapped the cage in greenhouse plastic, venting the top cover. (I work at a greenhouse so scraps are easy to come by.) It went wild very early. We were eating cherry tomatoes by the time many area gardeners were getting theirs into the ground, and seasoned gardeners were amazed.

I plan to do the same this year, but maybe add the water filled two liter bottles for an even earlier start. I may use the same method for some peppers. In spring, the extra height keeps the young plants from overheating on a sunny day.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2008 at 12:37PM
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jonz57(Zone 5 UT)

I have used these for over twenty years. I plant my tomatoes out eight weeks before last frost. I leave them on until the plants grow out the top. As for those who struggle to fill them, the secret is to put them in a five gallon bucket or fill them filling opposite cells, ie. one on the north, one on the south, one on the west, one on the east, and then repeat for inner cells going from one side to the other so that the unit is balance. I have also used these for mellons, plant two weeks before the last frost. This year I am going to leave some on through out the season to see if I can extend the season past the first frost of the year as well.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 6:46AM
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fanny(Z4 OR)

Gardener's Supply sold a water nozzle similar to the nozzles used in service stations to put water in car radiators especially for filling WOWs. It really takes the pain out of filling WOW tubes.
Plant a tomato, place a 5 gallon pail over it. Put a WOW around the pail.

Slip the blade of a palette knife or some such thin metal blade between the plastic at the top of the tube, turn it to open the tube, then insert the nozzle. Half-fill that tube, go half way around the WOW, half-fill another tube. Half-fill tubes at the guarter mark. Then half-fill the rest of them.
Remove the pail for a teepee or fill the tubes to the top then remove the bucket for a free-standing unit. As the tomato grows, fill the WOW with soil and water the tomato as if it were in a pot.

When the weather warms, turn the top of the WOW over on the outside about 5 inches and place a wire cage around it.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 3:06AM
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daylilyfanatic4(Zone 6 SE NY)

I have never used W.O.W's but I would think they would not work well in the fall since the plant will be much bigger than the W.O.W

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 4:15PM
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fanny(Z4 OR)

Tomatoes and peppers grew out of the WOW like large plants in regular pots.

The concrete wire cages kept everything in place.

I watered into the pot-like WOW, which saved water and didn't get the plants wet.

After killing frost in the fall, we pulled up the plants, removed the WOW, washed and dried them for use this year.

This year I am going to use this system for squash, cucumbers, and melons.

We have generally cool weather with 6 or so weeks of very hot weather. The Wows promoted growth as it kept the plant both warm in cool weather and cooler in hot weather.

I've tried to use the Wows all season before but they got really dirty and were inclined to fall into the plant. Turning the top of the Wow over to the outside all around made a shorter sturdier Wow and sealed out the dirt/mold etc.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 8:01PM
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DIY version: get a clear gallon water bottle and cut off the bottom and the top to make a cylinder. get a package of those colored freezer pops in the plastic tubes, you know the ones. tape a bunch around or on the inside of the bottle to act as water chambers in the same manner as the WoW.

you can use just red ones for tomatoes or green ones for melons.

only caveat: you worry about leakage. don't want sugar water in your soil.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 1:18PM
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I've used the wall o water for 5 years. I buy more every year,
I particularly like the red for tomatoes. I garden at 3500' elevation, and this is the only way to get tomatoes in June for our area. I have tomatoes out in the snow in March, they're fine. I put the tomato cages up, then fill WOW around them. I have 2 patio tomatoes now still in WOW to moderate the heat instead of the cold, they love it.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 2:26AM
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juliebw(z5 NY)

I experimented with just two plants in WOW this year. I put the plants out a month earlier, got a couple tomatoes two weeks earlier. They did help a little, but perhaps not worth the effort.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 12:37PM
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I've tried WOW's for several years in the Carolinas. Tomatoes protected by them reliably survive temperatures in the teens. Unfortunately, I can't say that I've gotten ripe tomatoes appreciably earlier than I have from unprotected plants set out a month later.

In my experience, the plants grow fine in cold weather but the payback's not there. Being a garden nut, I keep trying and hoping.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 4:44PM
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I've used WOWs many times as well as jugs of water, plastic tenting, etc. because we have such a cool spring & slow start to summer and overnight lows are slow to rise above 50F.

Seemed like not really worth the trouble as they don't grow until weather has warmed, so just put them out over a month later than most years.

Much easier to set up, so time will tell if I get ripe tomatoes before weather cools again in September/October.


    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 12:18PM
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I was not impressed with the trouble and expense of WOW just for a brief headstart on my tomatoes. But a friend recommended a "wall of dirt" and it worked like a charm. After the tomatos were set out on March 10 (they were getting straggly inside from being started too soon)I covered them with gallon milk jugs and pilled compost around the jugs just up to the neck.

The tomato plants covered that way survived Missouri snow and ice storms. When the plants got tall enough to touch the top, I just pulled up on the jug and piled on more compost. One did not get covered enough and the top got a little nipped.

You can't full mother nature though...... Tomatos need warm soil temps to thrive and they did not take off real fast until May. But they did give me the first tomatos at the farmers market and I'll do it again this spring.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2011 at 12:12PM
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I use cut-off gallon juice bottles. Not milk jugs, but rather solid PETE bottles with fairly wide mouths. Sometimes when I have planted cucumbers too early it saves them.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 8:50PM
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