Technology and tomatoes

Today I’ve been potting up our tomatoes into their final position in the greenhouse. They have shot up over the last few days so I was worried that they would be getting too big to handle very easily, so it had to be done now. I’m growing two varieties – the dependably delicious Gardener’s Delight and some amazing Amish Paste (which are wonderful for sauce) – the seeds are from the brilliant Real Seeds Company.

Over the 6 or 7 years that I’ve been growing tomatoes I’ve really struggled to find a way of keeping them watered and fed, which can mean being on duty with the watering can 2 or 3 times a day in hot weather. I don’t mind asking family or friends to do a bit of watering when we’re off on holiday, but it’s a bit much to ask them to come over twice a day (and in their lunch break!). I even tried a really snazzy drip system hose with a timer on the outside tap a couple of years ago – but the timer broke after a couple of months, and I never quite felt confident in the system.

Last year I read about the Easy-2-grow system from Autopot and thought it was worth a try, so I invested in a 6 pot set-up. It was so successful I’ve bought another set this year. This is how it looks – I’m part way through sorting it out in this picture – but you get the idea.

Autopot System growing tomatoes

It’s so clever, and once you have the system set up you can leave it for up to 14 days (depending on the weather) to look after itself. There’s a large tank (you can just see that in the bottom right hand corner of the photo) that you fill with water and tomato feed – the water then flows to the 6 pots in their special reservoir containers. Between each set of pots  there’s a special little valve system that allows water into the reservoir until it reaches a certain height, then it shuts off the pipe. When the water level drops (thirsty tomatoes!), the valve opens again, the reservoir fills again, and so on…

Here’s a funky 3D animation so that you can see how it works.

I really love it – it’s relatively easy to assemble (easier than the drip hose system anway!) and it’s brilliant to be able to leave the tomatoes to look after themselves for a couple of weeks at a time. It’s also great not to have to think about when you need to feed the tomatoes and no water is wasted because its the plants themselves that decide when they need some more. When my back was aching today, and worrying about all the other things I had to do today, it was good to remind myself that we will have a lovely harvest to look forward to later in the year.

Sometimes I look through gardening catalogues and am tempted by all sorts of gadgets that I convince myself (usually!) aren’t worth the money – but Easy-2-Grow has been great so far – it’s once gadget I haven’t been disappointed in.

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