Ease of Use
Overall, this is a nice planter for growing tomatoes in a smaller space. The biggest issue I had with it was around material quality, fit and the small fill spout. It did grow tomatoes well and is relatively attractive.
The new Gardener’s Revolution® Tomato Garden planter kit, available exclusively from Gardener’s Supply, is supposed to “grow 35% more tomatoes” and “guarantee a big harvest of delicious organic tomatoes.” I’m not sure what that number is compared against, but anything that promises to produce more tasty tomatoes is worth trying.
>> Related Article: 7 Terrific Tomato Tips
The kit includes a self-watering planter, support to hold up the tomato plant, 20 quarts of Organic Self-Watering Potting Mix, and 1 lb. of Organic Tomato Fertilizer – just add water and a tomato plant and you’re ready to grow.
The planter is intended to hold one tomato plant only, preferably a determinate type that won’t grow too tall. If you do want to grow indeterminate tomatoes, you’ll probably need to add the Tomato Planter Support Extension (sold separately) to stop it from toppling over.
Assembling the Gardener’s Revolution® Tomato Garden
As with all Gardener’s Supply products, the kit comes with a page of assembly instructions, including drawings. However, that’s where the problems started.
In theory, it should be simple to assemble theGardener’s Revolution® Tomato Garden. Just snap all the pieces together (no tools required) and you’re done.
The reality is that many of the pieces didn’t fit together cleanly or easily (so tools were required to force them into place) and the instructions didn’t match the parts, which was confusing.
The first step in assembling the planter is to attach the feet (and the casters, if you have them – you won’t be able to easily add them once the planter is full). That’s where the first problem with the instructions came up – the right and left feet shown in Figure 1 in the instructions are reversed. As you can see in the photo below, the instructions show the foot I’m holding as the “Left Foot” but the foot itself has a large R stamped on it (similarly, the “Right Foot” has an L on it).
When you turn the reservoir upside-down, you’ll see the letters R and L stamped next to the slots for the feet. Just match the letters on the feet with the letters on the reservoir, rather than following the image in the instructions.
The planter basket is intended to fit snuggly onto the reservoir base – but it doesn’t. It overlaps the reservoir rather than fitting together and it’s difficult to insert and tighten the T-locks that hold the two parts together.
Another assembly problem was trying to install the support upright. It didn’t fit through the opening and had to be forced through. I whacked the whole thing on the ground several times (hard) but a rubber mallet would have been a better option (the instructions have been modified since I assembled mine – it now says to use a mallet).
The support upright has to fit snuggly into the platform on the reservoir or the whole support will wobble back and forth. But it didn’t fit – I had to force the platform outward to make the upright fit (and it wasn’t easy to do it).
Once the lower part of the support upright is in place, the upper part can be installed. The two parts of the support pole fit together easily and the cap snapped on the top with no problem.
However, the wire support rings were difficult to fit into the support upright – they didn’t snap into place and therefore tended to “droop” or fall out of the support. We ended up using pliers to force them into place.
Finally, the plastic from which the tomato kit is made isn’t rigid so the support stake wobbled a lot and the whole contraption felt flimsy. Things firmed up quite a bit when the potting mix was added, although there was still some “give.”
Planting in the Gardener’s Revolution® Tomato Garden
Organic Self-Watering Potting Mix: Canadian sphagnum peat moss, peat humus, perlite, limestone, gypsum, mycorrhizae
Organic Tomato Fertilizer: Vegetable or animal protein meal, peanut meal, natural nitrate of soda, natural sulfate of potash/magnesia. NOTE: contains peanut meal.
I garden using organic methods so I like the fact that the Gardener’s Revolution® Tomato Garden kit comes with organic potting mix and tomato fertilizer.
It’s important to mix the potting mix and half the fertilizer, and then moisten the mixture before adding it to the grow bag in the planter (it should be damp, not soaking wet). It takes a surprising amount of water to adequately moisten the mix (about 2 gallons). As with any self-watering potting mix, if you add it to the planter when it’s dry, it won’t be able to wick up water from the reservoir.
Place the grow bag in the planter, fill it with moistened potting mix and plant your tomato. Tomatoes tend to grow quite large so I strongly recommend that you follow Gardener’s Supply’s advice to only plant one tomato in the Gardener’s Revolution® Tomato Garden planter, preferably a determinate variety.
I ignored that advice (of course!) and planted an indeterminate tomato variety called ‘Crimson Carmello‘ that has luscious, medium-sized tomatoes that are wonderful to eat right off the vine (many thanks to Renee’s Garden Seeds for providing the seeds!).
It grew quickly and strongly in the Gardener’s Revolution® Tomato Garden planter, producing plenty of good-sized tomatoes. ‘Crimson Carmello’ doesn’t tend to get as large as some other indeterminate types and you can always prune back a tomato plant if it gets too large.
Growing in the Gardener’s Revolution® Tomato Garden
One of the draws of the Gardener’s Revolution® Tomato Garden planter is that it’s “self-watering,” meaning that if you keep the reservoir in the bottom of the container full of water, the plant will get a steady supply of moisture.
Tomatoes are finicky – they need constant, uninterrupted water or they’ll develop cracks and be more susceptible to blossom end rot. So a good self-watering container can make a huge difference in the quality of your crop.
Wicking Capillary Strip – A nice feature of the self-watering system is the capillary strip that runs through the bottom of the planter and into the reservoir, making it easier for the moisture to wick up into the potting mix. As a result, the soil hasn’t dried out as quickly as I expected (containers with porous walls, like the fabric used here, tend to dry out very quickly in the extreme dry heat here in Tucson). If there’s water in the reservoir, the capillary strip will wick it up.
Which leads to the issue of filling the reservoir … At 1.5 gallons, it needs frequent filling – and that’s a bit of a problem because of the design of the Gardener’s Revolution® Tomato Garden.
Filling the Reservoir – The opening for the water spout is mostly hidden under the planter basket, making it very difficult to fill. I had to use either a small watering can (not ideal when you’re trying to get 1.5 gallons of water into the reservoir) or the “jet” setting on a hose nozzle (which gives a narrow stream of water but does it at high pressure so water tends to splash everywhere). Alternatively, you can try to pull the spout outward when filling it – but that’s very hard to do. It would be much easier to use the reservoir if the spout was larger.
Planting Container – The “container” consists of a perforated planter (it looks like a honeycomb) with a lightweight Grow Bag liner in which the tomato is planted. The goal is to air-prune roots, which is said to create a dense, vigorous root system that can take up more water and nutrients. The honeycomb planter helps keep the Grow Bag stable and cuts down on evaporation. I’m not sure if the roots were any more vigorous than if they’d been grown in a traditional container, but the plant grew well and the potting mix didn’t dry out too quickly.
Support Rings – Another nice feature is the five wire rings that attach to the upright support – they can be moved up and down as the plant grows, and can be opened and reattached to gather up wayward stems. The rings can be hard to remove or reattach (keep your pliers handy) but, overall, the system works well.
- Planter and support: UV-resistant polypropylene, BPA-free polypropylene liner, aluminum, powder-coated steel wire
- 50-1/4″ H x 16″ W x 13-1/4″ deep overall
- Support is 34″ H
- Five Snap-Lock Rings are 14-1/2″ L x 8-1/2″ W
- Reservoir holds 1-1/2 gallons
Overall, this is a nice planter for growing tomatoes in a smaller space. The biggest issue I had with it was around material quality. Many of the parts didn’t fit together cleanly and had to be forced (for example, we needed pliers to get the wire support rings in place). The support upright wobbled. And the spout used to fill the water reservoir was so small that it was very difficult to fill. On the plus side, the tomato grew well, the potting mix stayed moist (as long as the reservoir was filled regularly) and the planter took up very little space.
Where to Buy
The Gardener’s Revolution® Tomato Garden is available exclusively from Gardener’s Supply for $59.95 plus shipping. At this time it doesn’t appear to be available on Amazon.
Optional casters to roll the planter around are $11.95 for a set of four and the support extension (if your tomato gets too tall) is $12.95.
The potting mix and fertilizer can also be bought separately so you can reuse the planter year after year.
And now over to you – What do you grow tomatoes in? Share your thoughts in the comments below!