Wall O' Water Comparison

archerb(8)March 22, 2011

All seeds were started on January 13, 2011. On Feb 19, I planted six plants under WOW's in garden against the advice of everyone I know that knows anything about gardening. Soil was too cold. The rest of my plants stayed under lights or on the window sill. On March 6, I planted the rest of them out in the garden. On March 21, I took this picture: From Garden

The plant on the left is a Chapman and was under a WOW. The one on the right is a Giant Belgium and was left under lights until planted out on March 6.

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bigdaddyj(Zone7)

I did two years controlled studies. Used Siletz, Kotlas and Stupice. The WOW plants grew monster sized plants compared to the indoor grown. When my last frost date arrived I planted the indoor raised, but now hardened, plants in the garden to join their WOW brothers. Like your pic, my WOW plants were much larger sized plants but not to the extreme yours show vs the control plants. The WOW
plants produced their first ripe fruit only a day or two earlier than the control though despite being in the garden a good 5 weeks longer than the control in their protective WOW's. Lessons learned:

WOW's were great at protecting against frost.
WOW's grew huge plants vs Indoor raised.
WOW's only gave me a ripe fruit a day or two before my indoors.

Conclusion: WOW's not worth the effort in my Delaware Zone 7 garden.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 3:46PM
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suburbangreen(8)

That's a big difference. I haven't used WOW, but I do plant mine early and use row covers and xmas lights for heat on cold nights. My outside plants leapfrog, the ones I leave in pots inside for giveaways. The roots get established after a couple weeks and then they take off.

A garden expert that has a radio show in my area recommends not to grow large-fruited, late-season tomatoes, because our temps get too hot, too soon for fruit set. This statement is pretty much true if someone plants in ground, not raised, 2 weeks after our normal last frost date. With a couple extra measures though, one can get fat beefsteaks for at least a month, not to mention smaller fruits.

Bigdaddy, Did the WOW plants end up producing more fruit than the ones planted later, due to their larger size? Where I live, I try to get as much fruit-set as possible, before Summer hits.

On a side note: I planted a couple transplants that were 3 weeks younger(probably 4-weeks-old) than my other plants. They have almost caught up with the other plants.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 4:48PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

I don't know if I'd use them in a southern zone, but I've used WOW's in my zone 5 garden for the last 10 years. They allow me to set out my plants a little early, or alot early. I'll admit I'm guilty of trying to get the first ripe tomato on the block. The WOW's protect agsinst frost, freeze, and snow, all of which I can vouch for. I've had snow on my WOW's, and have had the water in the tubes almost freeze solid with temp's in the high teens. I've never killed a plant with one "yet". In the past I have set my plants out too early. I'll probably wait until at least the first week of May this year. Last year I had a Stupice actually set a fruit while still in the WOW, and it ripened in June, and even tasted good! Another advantage of the WOW is that they eliminate the hardening off process for me. I just take my seedling started indoors and plant it outdoors in a WOW, and that's that. Down south I don't know, but I love them in Z5.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 6:11PM
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bigdaddyj(Zone7)

Suburbangreen... yes they produced more fruit overall being much larger plants and I never prune. Interesting though that very few blossoms set IN the WOW's. The blossoms growing above the WOW's set much better. By the end of the 5 weeks the plants were growing a bit above the WOW tops. When I removed the WOW's the plants immediately flopped over. They were huge but NOT sturdy. I caged them up immediately upon WOW removal. My goal was to get a few earlier ripe tomatoes. WOW's did not help there so for my intended purpose they were not worth the trouble. BUT, they do a great job of protecting plants. It gets real warm in them when the sun is out. Weeds grew gangbusters inside the WOW's but not outside them at all in late winter/early spring. Very greenhouse like. Northern growers may get earlier ripe fruit than I did and man if you are in a hurry to get your plants outside WOW's will protect them...

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 6:55PM
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archerb(8)

The reason I wanted to try them out here in the south is because if we don't get early fruitset, we don't get fruit until maybe October. Five weeks ago, we had snow. Tomorrow we're expecting 87 and 91 on Saturday. We get our coldest weather in February and then it gets hot fast. Last year, we had a frost on March 29th, so there is really no "right" time to set out. No matter when you set out, you will be rummaging through the garage looking for anything you can find to cover your plants. You have to be sure to pull it off in the morning or the high temps may cook your plants. I've seen it hit 31 at night and 75 the next day. I liked the idea of being able to set out early and not worry covering them all in the event of a late frost.

I don't know if these plants will give more fruit sooner or not. I hope to find out. I do know that by May, most of the other plants will have caught up to the WOW plants in size, but again, I'm not worried about shrubs. I need fruit set early.

Next year, I hope to start seed in mid-December and try to get plants out in mid-late January. That should make for the best test. The challenge will be getting the beds ready in time.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 9:48PM
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austinnhanasmom(5 CO)

In my early years of gardening, I would buy the plants at HD and plant in mid-May. I rarely harvested ripe tomatoes. The frost would hit before the fruit matured.

With WOWs, I started seeds in mid-Feb for mid-March plantings. The fruit would set before the heat became ridiculous, and the plants would give a few fruit during the heat, and take off once the temps cooled.

Only with WOWs do I extend the season to the point where we are sick of tomatoes by the end! I could not garden without them.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2011 at 9:56PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

austin and hannas Mom how warm does it need to be in the day to carry the warmth over night. I already planted some outside in walls of water, but I have a basement full of tomatoes and thinking of planting more outside today. The temps for the next couple of days are forecast to be near freezing over night, 50's in the day. Is that warm enough. I have used wall of waters before but I waited until warmer weather. I like them for the insurance they provide. Last year I had a family reunion and had to be gone; I knew my plants would be safe if the forecast changed and I wasn't there to cover plants.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2011 at 4:05PM
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archerb(8)

hehenh:

I'm in Texas, so YMMV...

I had a few days with temps that didn't get above 50 with no issues (proof is in the pictures, I guess), but I don't recall what the night time temps were. However, it may depend on what type of WOW you get and what color it is. I would assume that the darker ones would do better than the clearer ones, but they may limit the light that gets to the plant. Mine are a greenish color and seem to work well. I could see the red ones working well also, although, that's a guess and not from experience. I plan to put a few out in January this year to see what happens so I'll know more next year.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 9:21AM
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austinnhanasmom(5 CO)

helenh -

I'm in one zone colder then yours, but we can get really warm winter days. And the sun is intense.

Although I have never performed experiments, we have had colder winters and the tomatoes were fine, with mid-March plantings. The day temps were cooler (40s) and nights dipped below freezing. I think my WOWs have protected close to 0 (degrees F) but there was snow to help insulate as well.

Last year, I had a helper at WOW filling time. Filling and frozen ground is usually the limiting step for me. It's hard to fill the WOWs when the hose water temps are so cold!! My old fingers get chilled quickly. Anyway, last year I had assistance and had tomatoes ready to plant. One thing I did not have was enough WOWs. No one had them locally, and I didn't have time to ship. I bought 1 gallon water jugs and tried to make my own, by taping the jugs together and then covering with row cover. The row cover did not protect as well. The water jugs must not have been tall enough either because my make shift WOWs failed. The tomatoes in these did not thrive.

I use the green ones too. Some of mine are so old, they are nearly clear!! I add a teepee of bamboo inside, which protects the plant in case the WOW tips over. For me, witnessing a collapsed WOW on my plant is almost as bad as watching my kids fall in the street!!

I also do not fill more then 3/4 full until the weather is warmer. This also helps insulate.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 9:49AM
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Jay_NY(6A)

Do you find it common that the WOWs tip over? Wind? I am using them for the first time this year. I am about to put them out and it sounds like your experience has taught you to add support. I also heard about only filling 3/4 the way up, I will certainly use your recommendations.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 10:24AM
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archerb(8)

Mine tipped over when new. No wind required. Although, I did make the mistake of filling them with a high pressure hose that blew out the partition separating the tubes. They all now bulge out at the bottom. On the bright side, it does make filling them easier as I only have to fill three or four tubes and they are all full.

I support mine with tomato cages. I plant the seedling, put a cage over it, lower the WOW over the cage and then fill with water. I also add support with some 3-foot sections of PVC pipe to reduce the sagging. If you use standard water pressure to fill the tubes, you may not have this problem. The hardest part is removing the WOWs once the weather warms up. Putting them over the cage is easy. Getting them back off when they are filled with water is hard. I have to pull them off, cage and all and then replace the cage back over the plant. Bamboo teepees like the ones mentioned here might work well for non-damaged WOW's. Mine are too far gone for teepees.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 10:35AM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

Thank you. I am going to plant a couple today even though it is cool. I have plenty of back up tomatoes but I really don't expect them to fail. Jay I usually make a tepee of sticks because they will fall over. Some are like walls of water but a different brand. I see differences in the last ones I bought easier to fill and larger tubes. My old ones require the sticks.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 6:37PM
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heirloomtomato(5-PA)

I always heard to put the Wall O Waters out a week or two before you plant because this warms the soil up inside before you put in your transplants. Does anyone else do this?

I did the wall o waters last year but I admit that it would probably be considered "cheating" because I use mine inside my high tunnel greenhouse (unheated - but gets warm from sun during the day). I planted April 15th last year and had tomatoes around July 4th (Fourth of July variety actually!) Also had Clear Pink Earlies ripen about a week later. This year I hope to set out on April 1st. I already have my wall o waters set up to warm the soil. I have 3 and am planting 2 Stupice's and an English Rose which I know will be later getting ripe but that's okay with me. I have never been one to care if my tomatoes are ready really early but if I can do it why not try? I do agree about the stems being weak when you take the protection off them but I cage them and they soon toughen up.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 9:10PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Also the weather trend in late April and early May matters to me. If the weather is in a cold pattern and is going to continue, I might hold off planting outside. On the other hand if it's a warm spring and the long range forecast is for it to continue, I don't know how I could not stick a few plants in the ground and put a WOW over it. On a side note, I usually fill mine almost to the top to start with, so the top opens up, to vent the heat build-up. The May sun can really cook a plant inside a closed WOW. As long as the plant is still down inside it is plenty well protected on cold nights.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 10:15PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

In May I have mine opened at the top or taken off completely. In March the top needs to fold over to keep the plant warm. The high heat capacity of water protects from heat as well as cold. Also even though they fold over at the top, it isn't completely sealed.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 10:41PM
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jolj(7b/8a)

Looks like WOW is worth the money.
A cheap green house.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 12:30AM
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Jay_NY(6A)

I found them on ebay 50 for 118.00 - cheapest I could find. If anyone else sees them cheaper please post. I went with Red, who knows if the red hype will turn to be true!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 9:22PM
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timmy1(6a ri)

Trouble is...once NIGHT TEMPS drop into the 50's, your going to loose blossoms. So, you end up w/ huge plants and very little fruit set until your nights stay in the 60's.

That's why later plantings ketchup.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2011 at 9:32PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

I get tomatoes earlier with them, but they are a lot of trouble so if I had to plant 50 tomatoes I might not use them. Be careful with the cheap ones. I have the Wall of Water ones and lately got another brand which was easier to fill. I poked a hole in one of the tubes trying to get the thing straight. That has never happened to me with the Wall of Water brand. I think the new ones are not as tough. They are too expensive if you can't reuse them again and again.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 1:33AM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

When I bought my last batch of WOW's, I used the $25 coupon that Gurney's offers every spring. So basically I bought $50 worth of them for $25. In my experience, I've not lost any blossoms due to using a WOW. Like I said earlier upthread, last year my Stupice set a tomato while it was still inside the WOW, and it ripened in June. That's real early for around here. Also, I tried one of the WOW repair kits, and it was lousy. To repair them, just sacrifice a WOW and cut off some good tubes to slip inside the punctured ones.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 10:32AM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

That is a good tip about using those coupons; I hope I still have that catalogue with the coupon deal. I had Matina, Kimberly and Bloody Butcher ripe in late June and Reif Red Heart huge tomato July 10. Last year April was warm and May was cool, I had tomatoes two or three weeks before neighbors. The year before I had Glaciers in June and Granny Cantrell in early July. The big beefsteak type tomatoes put in at the regular time were not ripe until mid or late July.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 11:16AM
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dianazone5

Thank you for the helpful thread. I am using them for the first time this year. Lots of good advice for the newbies!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 10:43AM
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bluemater(z5 IL)

I've used the red WOWs for years now and they do make a difference.

One thing that is not mentioned and is very important is that the WOWs not only protect against frost but they also warm the soil.

The guy who invented them told me that I should put the WOWs out a week BEFORE planting so the soil is warmed up adequately.

I also get great late season tomatoes by the 4th of July and I just start a month early, and not the 6 weeks that is said you can. I originally tried that but found that the tomatoes overgrew the tops and could get nipped by frost unless you cover them.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 11:34AM
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austinnhanasmom(5 CO)

I lay black plastic down and it seems to warm the soil enough for me. I think a colder area would want to place the WOW out in advance. Advance set up will also allow the water to warm before planting. I planted on a cloudy, cold day and the WOWs were not able to adequately heat before the sun set. Those plants did not survive.

I have used WOWs for 8 years now. I bought extras this year to perhaps replace the oldest ones.

My garden is not as flat as it should be, so my WOWs tip from uneven ground. 2' bamboo does wonders to prevent tipping.

To fill, I bought a 5 gallon bucket from HD and removed the bottom, making a "tube". I dig the hole, plant, place the "tube" over the plant and then place the empty WOW around the "tube". I found long neck funnels in the lawn mower maintenance area at HD and place 3 or 4 in the WOWs. The funnels help with the filling. Once all WOW tubes are filled, I tug the top of the WOW to insure all tubes have adequate water and then lift the "tube" bucket out. I also use this bucket to remove the WOW in the spring. The funnels also assist in watering the plants.

A tomato plant top that gets chilled has never killed the plant, in my experience. If the plant is too tall at planting, I bury deeply, trenching if necessary.

I never use the ice cold hose water to water in after planting. I truck warm water to the garden, so the plants do not suffer from extra stress.

One year, Walmart had WOWs on clearance - $3 for a pack of 3. They had SO many packs, I think the manager has since learned how to order.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 5:43PM
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archerb(8)

I've gotten fruitset on the WOW plants. Everything else is just starting to bloom. Here is an updated picture... From Garden

Of course, the two on the left were WOW plants, planted out on Feb 19. The two on the right were not WOW plants, planted out on March 6. All seeds were started on Jan 13.

Plants from left to right are: BW Sudduth, Chapman, Giant Belgium, Cour Di Bue.

(The red balls will hopefully thwart birds later in the year. I'm too cheap to buy netting.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Updated Picture

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 10:30PM
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austinnhanasmom(5 CO)

I think the biggest benefit is the advanced root development. My WOW plants may look chilled and tiny, only until the weather is "correct" and then the growth seems explosive.

I planted about 20 plants in WOWs this weekend and have a few more that are ready. 19 of 20 seem to be doing a happy dance, even though it snowed Sat night. The weather looks to be cooperating today. I figure that if I cannot wear a t-shirt while planting, then the sometimes finicky heirlooms will just sulk; maybe even just say "uncle".

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 9:57AM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

I tried them years ago, got about the same results as Bigdaddy. The last few years I have been using plastic 55 gallon drums and clear plastic. I place the drum on the north side of the plants, fill it with water and put the plastic over it and 5 plants with the cages on them. I use rocks to hold down the plastic.

The large drum keeps them from over heating during the day and keeps them warmer at night. I got the drums for free at work, but you can buy them for about $5 around here. I get ripe tomato's about 2 weeks earlier than I do with my other plants.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 12:29PM
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