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Smart Thoughts

Tomato Success with NoCoco Liner

Here’s a new take on an old saying: “You can count the number of seeds in one tomato, but you can’t count the number of tomatoes in each seed.”

That’s especially true when planting in a NoCoco Liner. One tiny seed grew into a beautiful tomato plant that draped over the edge of a hanging basket and produced cherry-sized tomatoes almost nonstop since the end of July.

The special Smart Pot liner replaced an ordinary coconut fiber liner for a countless number of Litt’l Bites cherry tomatoes. Litt’l Bites is a windowbox tomato (from Renee’s Garden seeds) that’s perfect for a hanging basket fitted with a NoCoco liner.

Planting the NoCoco Liner

The tomato-growing process began in April when the tiny seeds got their start indoors. After sprouting, they grew into sturdy plants while basking under lights until transplanting time in late May. A green 14-inch NoCoco Liner (provided by Smart Pots) held a good-quality potting soil mixed with a slow-release fertilizer to give this plant a healthy start.

A hanging tomato means there’s no need for a trellis. Tomato plants will grow up and the weight of the vine and green tomatoes will let it gently lean over when it’s ready.

Watering the NoCoco Liner

Deep watering helped the little plant start growing and growing. The NoCoco Liner is made of Smart Pot’s porous fabric that encourages plants to form strong roots. Instead of becoming root bound in the container, the roots grow into the sides of the liner, prune themselves and form new roots. Air pruning doesn’t happen in a coconut fiber liner or in a plastic hanging basket.

During the hottest part of the summer, the tomato basket needed daily watering with a hose and nozzle. With so many healthy roots, the best way to water was slowly and deeply to make sure the potting mix was thoroughly moistened. A good sign is when water drains freely through the bottom of the basket.

Fertilizing the NoCoco Liner

The slow-release fertilizer in the potting soil lasts one to two months because some drains away during watering. When the tomato plant started flowering and setting fruit, a water-soluble fertilizer added to the watering can every 7-10 days gave the plant a boost to help with tomato production.

Harvesting the NoCoco Liner

It’s hard to wait for those first green tomatoes to ripen to a deep red. It took until the end of July, but once the tomatoes started, they kept going in cascading sprays of perfectly round cherry tomatoes. Each delicious jewel clipped (not pulled) from the vine held a burst of classic tomato taste. Some even made it into the kitchen.

Winter Care for the NoCoco Liner

With warm fall weather, the tomato plant will keep producing fruit until the temperature takes a big drop. After the first fall freeze, it will be time to remove the plant from the NoCoco Liner, empty the soil into the composter and brush away any soil and roots clinging to the sides.

Unlike coconut fiber liners that last only a season or two, NoCoco Liners can be reused for many seasons. Simply clean with a damp sponge and a mixture of baking soda and water.

When dry, the liner can be folded and stored with the hanging basket, until it’s time to plant something wonderful for the next growing season.

Jodi Torpey is an award-winning gardener and writer from beautiful Denver, Colorado. Her books include The Colorado Gardener’s Companion and Blue Ribbon Vegetable Gardening.  Jodi and her books can be found at here.

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