Should I bother with tomatoes without Walls O Water?

ashleigh8585April 21, 2013

I rented a plot at a community garden in my city- Zone 5a. When I went to the orientation meeting yesterday, they said to not even bother with tomatoes and peppers without Walls O Water to keep them warm throughout the season.

I've already spent my gardening budget on tools, plot rental, and getting seeds started-- I really can't justify buying Walls O Water for the bajillion tomato and pepper plants I have started.

I seem to remember these plants doing just fine without any kind of protection in my mom's 5a garden 3 hours away... but it was a long time ago, and my memory may be faulty. Thoughts?

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david52 Zone 6

I don't use them. Some of my neighbors use them - they set their plants out 2-3 weeks before I do, maybe through a few light frosts - but I'd wager that I harvest a whole lot more tomatoes/peppers than they do.

I think they're effective to protect plants from wind - if thats an issue where you garden, and frost, but there are other ways of doing that.

I'd just wait until the first week of June - and with an eye on the forcast - plant them out then.

All these warm weather crops depend on soil temperature. If you want to show off, pin down clear plastic over your beds for a week before you plant, heat the heck out of the soil ;-)

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 11:37AM
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tomatoz1

Ashleigh - I have always used WOW for about a month mostly as a wind break and for protection from hail, which we get just about every year in June. This is in the community garden.

At home, I can plant about 6 tomatoes and keep them away from the wind by planting next to a wall or fence, therefore, no WOW. I do use some sort of hail protection clipped to the tomato cage when the weather gets nasty.

Last year some of my peppers got de-leafed from the hail, but they sprung back in time. This year I'm planning on putting sunscreen over the whole lot of 48 peppers. Planning anyway. We'll see when the time comes to plant.

Go ahead and plant and be resourceful. It sounds like you've got the greatest gardening attitude and will do well.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 7:02PM
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WxDano(5b-2a-6/7)

I use them. By the time hail comes around hereabouts, my WOWs are off so frost protection is my benefit. I have a tomatillo that needed to be put out a week ago but I've held off because this weather suc....erm...ahem. I'm shooting for mid-week. I like getting a head start so when the heat in July shuts them down I've had some extra time in the ground.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 12:05AM
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ashleigh8585

Thanks for all the follow ups! Wind protection is definitely going to be an issue, from what I was told at orientation. What do you guys use for this? Are there any nice, cheap, homegrown or jury-rigged options you can recommend? And TomatoZ, are you in the Springs? If so, what plot are you in? We might be neighbors! :)

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 11:05AM
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tomatoz1

Ashleigh - I wish we were neighbors! The community garden where I grow stuff is in Lakewood. Fun to share space with others and see what they're growing. Easy to trade with them, too.

I've used lots of different materials to help with wind block like old sheer curtains from a garage sale, tulle or nylon netting from Hobby Lobby. These past years I've used sunscreen fabric from Lowe's.

I use concrete reinforcing wire tomato cages and clothespins to keep the fabric on the cage. I guess you could use butcher paper instead of fabric, or even multiple layers of newspaper pinned to the cages. You might want to make slits in the paper to let some wind go through. If possible, especially if you have lots of wind, have the material go all the way around the cage/plant. That way your plants can thrive and grow without too much trouble.

Best of luck in your growing of wonderful produce. Let us know how you decide to protect your plants. I love to experiment!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 2:03AM
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ianb_co(5b)

For a couple of years I grew about half my tomatoes with WoWs in May, half without. By August, there was no noticeable difference between the plants. However, I found there was a slight difference for my hot peppers (mostly poblanos); the ones started under WoWs end up flowering and maturing a week or two earlier than those without.

The things that seem to get a huge benefit from the WoWs is melons. They get much better growth during the cold nights (as in, 4-6 leaves vs 1 or 2), and, at least as important, the WoWs keep the flea beetles from chewing them to nubs when small.

So in my garden the WoWs go on the melons first, and if I have any left over they go on the peppers.

Ian

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 8:41AM
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ashleigh8585

Ian, that's good to know about the melons. They told us not to bother with those, either, because it's too cold and they won't mature. But I'd already started a bunch, and Rocky Ford has amazing melons and they're in 5a too, so I'm going for it anyway.

Hopefully the garden will open soon- it was supposed to be ready last weekend, but thanks to the wonderful weather they weren't able to till it and put up the plot barriers yet. I'll keep everyone posted!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 9:46AM
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rt_peasant(5 CO)

This might be slightly off-topic, but something I like to do with my WOWs is to get seeds to germinate fast! They hold in moisture and really heat the soil during the day. In the past, I've had trouble direct sowing tiny seeds like thyme, because the surface soil where the seeds are keeps drying out. With a WOW, you water the soil once, plop down the WOW, and take it off once the seedlings have popped up. Even relatively easy-to-direct-sow seeds like melons and cucumbers benefit from the WOW, and will germinate much earlier. I haven't timed how much earlier they produce fruit, but the WOW germinated seeds get a big head start over the non-WOW seeds. When I take my WOWs off the tomatoes in late May, I put them over all kinds of seeds - basil, cukes, watermelon - whatever I'm eager to harvest early!

-Mark

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 11:53PM
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