From Gardener's Supply (www.gardeners.com)

Using the Tomato Success Kit

Deck Gardens Thrive in Self-Watering Containers

Margaret Lamie-Santoli and her sons enjoy tomatoes harvested from a Tomato Success Kit on their deck.
As the trees in her small backyard grew taller, they began to shade the vegetable garden, and Margaret Lamie-Santoli of Ridgewood, N.J, knew that if she wanted tomatoes, she'd have to come up with another solution. Two years ago she noticed Tomato Success Kits in the Gardener's Supply catalog and decided to give them a try on her deck. "The deck is off the kitchen and gets lots of sun. I figured I could move the containers around to maximize the sun exposure through the season," says Margaret.

The results were amazing. "The tomato plants grew 4 feet tall and I had to use cages to support all the foliage and fruit. My first tomatoes ripened in early July, a month before they normally would in my garden," she says. "Also, I only had to water about half as much as I would in regular planters." Two years ago Margaret grew tomatoes in the four Tomato Success Kits (pink heirlooms, such as 'Brandywine', are her favorites). She also grew eggplant, peppers and basil.

Last year Margaret concentrated on growing tomatoes, and grew so many that she ended up making sauce and giving away lots of the fruit. "I like these planters so much that I even gave one to our neighbor," she says. "She has dogs in her yard so didn't have room to grow her own tomatoes."

Margaret has also turned to Gardener's Supply for help with a couple other tomato-growing challenges. "Blossom-end rot can be devastating to certain varieties of tomatoes such as 'Rutgers', says Margaret. "Rot Stop cleared up the problem fast." Another problem she faced was squirrels in the tomatoes. "They liked the pink tomatoes, but I used the Gardener's Supply Animal Repellent and now they don't bother the fruits."

The Lamie-Santoli house is a traditional colonial that sports Self-Watering Windowboxes. "My husband is picky about how things look, but he approves of the windowboxes. They perform much better than the cedar window boxes we've used before," says Margaret. She loves growing geraniums in the boxes and neighbors often ask what special variety she is growing because they look so beautiful. "And I only have to water them once a week, even in summer."

Margaret's two sons are also beginning to share her love of gardening. "They mostly aren't interested in gardening, but my 15-year old grew a 'Tiger Baby' watermelon in the Tomato Success Kit last year and loved it. He normally would never eat watermelon, but he ate this 'Tiger Baby' because he grew it," she says. Her sons brought so many bags of surplus tomatoes into the school to share with teachers that they earned the nickname "Tomato Boys." "Gardening is also a great way to get kids interested in science," said Margaret. "Maybe this year we'll get a few more planters and try something new!"

Last updated: 7/9/19