For me, about the only thing better than a vine-ripened tomato is knowing that I grew it myself. There's just something indescribable about a perfectly ripened, brightly colored, juicy, delicious tomato. Or six.
Sounds so easy, but the truth is that growing a garden can be time-consuming and frustrating, assuming that you even have space for one.
Added to the hard work of planting a garden, there are the matters of weeding, fertilizing and watering over and over throughout the growing season. My intentions are always superior, but my follow-through? Not so much.
I live in California, where water is precious and therefore expensive, which just adds to the list of challenges for me when it comes to home gardening. That's why I was immediately drawn to the very clever idea of growing tomatoes, all kinds of vegetables?and even fruit trees?in good old plastic storage bins available at Target, Home Depot, Lowe's and similar stores.
The process of building one of these systems, known as EarthTainer, is not difficult, and it's pretty cheap, as well, because you use ordinary household supplies. It takes about 90 minutes to build and plant one container so that it's all ready to go with two tomato plants.
Though not a huge job, this is not a matter of throwing some dirt and a plant in a pot. You will need to assemble the correct supplies and follow the instructions carefully. And don't assume you'll do this in an hour and a half the first time around. This is a midlevel construction project, just so you know.
The inventor, Ray Newstead, has created three handy videos with very clear instructions on how to do this, at http://earthtainer.tomatofest.com/#inntainer.pdf.
Once you have your container built and planted, this amazing system waters itself. And you add all the fertilizer you'll need for one season when you build it. After that ... just wait for the harvest. And did I say no weeding?
I am going to give this a try. I think you will be with me on this once you learn that you can put your tomato garden on a patio, balcony or even indoors near a south-facing window. That means we could be growing tomatoes and other vegetables year-round.
You know how much I believe that we should be moving toward growing our own food whenever possible. This is an invention that makes it possible.
Note: Though Ray says the method he demonstrates in the videos is valid and works well, he has greatly improved the system. The EarthTainer III "Convertible" Edition construction, planting and maintenance guide is a downloadable document, complete with pictures and very detailed instructional steps. You will find it online at http://earthtainer.tomatofest.com/pdfs/EarthTainer-Construction-Guide.pdf.
I'd love to know your thoughts. Surely, I'm not the only one who thinks this is just so incredibly creative and the solution to so many gardening problems. I can't wait to build my own EarthTainer.
Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com and author of 23 books, including her 2012 release, "7 Money Rules for Life." You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630. To find out more about Mary Hunt and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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