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March 14, 2024

Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just dipping your toes into the dirt for the first time, there’s something undeniably rewarding about growing your own food.

It’s that time of year when I get itching to get outside and dig in the dirt.

How about you?!

But if you live in an area like me where the spring weather can be unpredictable, then you need some tricks to extend the gardening season.

In fact, last year we had record snowfall in our area which made it even more difficult to get out and plant the garden.

However, I’ve been using walls of water for many years to extend the growing season for my tomatoes.

Not only terrific for growing tomatoes, but they’re also perfect for any tender vegetable crop.

How to Extend the Growing Season for Tomatoes?

Extending the growing season for tomatoes is a game-changer for any gardener eager to savor those juicy fruits for as long as possible.

With a little effort on your part you may be able to enjoy a flavorful garden tomato by the 4th of July.

Around these parts, that’s quite an accomplishment.

There are several options that you can use to extend your gardening season including:

  • Row Covers: Row covers are lightweight, breathable fabrics that can be draped over tomato plants to provide protection from frost and cold temperatures. They allow sunlight and water to penetrate while trapping heat, creating a warmer microclimate around the plants.
  • Raised Beds: Planting tomatoes in raised beds allows the soil to warm up faster in the spring and stay warmer later into the fall. The increased drainage and aeration in raised beds also promote healthier root growth, leading to stronger, more resilient plants.
  • Mulching: Applying a thick layer of organic mulch, such as straw or shredded leaves, around tomato plants helps regulate soil temperature, retain moisture, and suppress weeds. This insulation keeps the soil warmer during cool periods and extends the growing season. However, if there is a frost, the plant itself will still need to be protected.
  • Container Gardening: Growing tomatoes in containers offers the flexibility to move plants indoors or into a sheltered area during cold spells. Containers can be placed in sunny spots and brought inside when temperatures drop, allowing for an extended growing season on patios, balconies, or even indoors with adequate light.
  • Greenhouses or High Tunnels: For more serious gardeners, investing in a greenhouse or high tunnel provides a controlled environment where tomatoes can thrive into the cooler months. These structures trap heat from the sun, creating a warm and protected space for tomato plants to grow even during cold weather.
  • Walls of Water: One very effective method is using Walls of Water, those ingenious plastic cylinders act as mini greenhouses around young tender plants.

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Walls of Water to Extend Growing Season

My favorite method to extend my growing season it to use walls of water.

Not only are they easy to use, but they act as a mini greenhouse, providing warmth on chilly days and give your plants a boost.

By absorbing sunlight during the day and releasing heat at night, walls of water provide a cozy microclimate, protecting tender tomato seedlings or any tender plant from chilly spring temperatures.

Simply place them over your tomato plants early in the season to jumpstart growth and keep them protected as temperatures dip.

As the weather warms up, the walls of water can be removed, leaving behind robust, well-established plants ready to produce a bountiful harvest well beyond the typical growing season.

With this simple yet effective technique, you’ll be enjoying vine-ripened tomatoes long before your neighbors.


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Tips for Using Walls of Water

Here are few of my tips for setting up your walls of water in your garden.

Use a Large Bucket

Extend growing season for tomatoes: first cover plant with bucket for support for the walls of water.

First you’ll want to prepare your soil and plant your tomatoes plants deep.

Then I have found it easier to set up the walls of water, if I first cover the plant with a large bucket.

Fill with a Garden Nozzle

Woman's hand hold hose nozzle and fill each compartment with water for the walls of water.

Then place the wall of water around the bucket and begin filling each section with water with a garden nozzle.

You’ll also find it helpful if once you fill a water tube, you fill the next one directly across from it.

Think of it like a clock, fill the 6 and 12 sections first and then the 3 and 9.

This will help balance out the weight of the water, then continue filling in the remaining tubes.

White bucket covers tomato plant, green walls of water around bucket filled with water.

When it’s all filled it will look something like this.

Extent gardening season with walls of water. Hands remove bucket after water is placed in the walls of water.

Then carefully remove the bucket and the walls of water will collapse like a teepee at the top.

Hand pulls back the walls of water teepee to check the growth of the tomato plant.

As you can see that this environment really gives your tomato plants a jump start!

Tomato plant peeks through top of walls of water, used to extend the growing season for tomatoes and tender vegetables.

And I often find that the plant will start growing through the wall of water.

Remove Walls of Water After Frost Danger has Past

Tomato plant with amazing growth after the walls of water are removed.

Once the danger of frost has past you can remove the walls of water.

Your plants may look a little funny for a few days, as they have taken the shape of the teepee, but quickly they will fill out and you’ll see the fruits of your labor.

Finally, let the walls of water dry out and pack them away until the next season.

They last for many, many years. In fact, I think some of mine are more than 20 years old.

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Tomato plants surrounded by tomato cages.

Finally you’ll want to add a tomato cage or stake up your tomato plants.

Many times when I go to remove my walls of water, I find that they have already set fruit and I can enjoy fresh tomatoes by the first of July.

Fresh red and green tomatoes on plant in a vegetable garden.

While the walls of water are a great way to extend the growing season of your tomatoes, they are also great for cucumber, pepper, eggplants and melons.

More Tips

Here are some tips for using Walls of Water effectively in your garden:

  • Early Installation: Set up walls of water around your tomato plants early in the season, ideally a few weeks before the last expected frost date in your area. This helps to warm the soil and protect seedlings from cold temperatures.
  • Secure Placement: Ensure that the walls of water are securely placed around the base of each tomato plant. Press them firmly into the soil to prevent them from toppling over in windy conditions.
  • Ventilation: Monitor the temperature inside the Walls of Water, especially on sunny days. If temperatures become too warm, prop open the top of the walls of water to allow for ventilation and prevent overheating.
  • Reuse: Walls of water are durable and can be reused season after season. Clean and store them properly when not in use to extend their life.

Favorite Gardening Tools

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I believe walls of water provide an effective way of extending the growing season for tomatoes and many other tender vegetable crops.

With their simple setup and ability to protect plants from cold temperatures, they offer gardeners a valuable tool for ensuring healthier and more productive crops.

By implementing walls of water in your garden, you can enjoy an extended harvest period and maximize the yield of your tomato plants.

Have you used walls of water in your garden?

How do you extend the growing season in your garden.

If you love to garden, you’ll want to also check out the benefits of using eggshells in your garden.

And if struggle with Deer in your vegetable garden, take a look at our Modern Deer Fence.

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