To say that growing tomatoes is a challenge here in the coastal Pacific Northwest would be putting it lightly. Last year we finally eked out a few medium-sized slicers and several cherries, but nothing close to what our tomato dreams are made of.
This winter I put some time into researching things (especially frugal ones) we could do to better our tomato chances. This article from Mother Earth News was very helpful and served as the basis for most of our tomato decisions this year. In addition, I paid special attention to their regional tips.
Among other things, we covered our tomato plot with a sheet of black plastic/landscaping paper two months before planting (to heat the ground), and we bought all of our tomato seedlings at a local nursery that specializes in tomato varieties that do well in our area.
So where does the black spray paint come in?
After our tomatoes were finally in the ground, I took the half-gallon and gallon jugs I’d been saving over several months and spray painted them black.
We filled them with water and then toted them over to the Garden Annex . . .
where they sit between the tomato plants. The theory is that the jugs absorb heat from the sunlight during the day and then release the heat back out through the night, giving the tomatoes some extra help.
I don’t know if it’s actually working or not, but Bug spotted our first little tomatoes last week, and more have appeared since then.
We’ve had three discouraging days of almost-steady rain, but I’m planning on adding as many additional jugs as I can so we can hopefully make up for lost time when the sun returns.