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April 12, 2012


Ray Grimes

I live in Eastern Washington State and we are having the longest, coldest winter ever. Our rule of thumb is plant on Mothers Day. I solved the fish head thing by going fishing opening day, 3rd week of April each year. Each plant gets a sunfish which is considered a scrap fish. It used to cost me a fortune to get geared up but then I found the silver bullet. I pay kids $.25 a fish and get a hole bucket of them and the kids get paid to learn to fish. Win-win.

cheryl lurvey

can't wait to try this will let you know how it works


This method was a little time consuming to gather all the required amendments recommended for the planting hole but WELL worth the effort! I did a lot of research on planting methods and settled on this one; along with selecting heat tolerant varieties. I live in the San Fernando Valley, CA and our summers are HOT especially the evenings. I found the combination of getting the plants in the ground in March, amending the heck out of the hole, planting the tomatoes deep and researching heat tolerant varieties to be the winning comibnation. My plants were huge (over 6' tall) and needed extra support and yeilded abundant fruit. Start saving your egg shells now and hit up your fishing friends for their heads and tail and throw them in the freezer until you need them.

Velma Tuttle

OK, I'm so tired of prepping, planting, caring, and getting very little in return! I have stayed orgainic and love heirloom tomatoes. So, this year I am going to follow your How We Plant Tomatoes to the letter. I have been gathering my supplies, have found a source for fish heads, and ordered Mykos and worm casting, saving egg shells. All should come together next week. I am excited to see the results. I have over thirty tomato plants waiting and have many canning jars waiting for the fruit. Love to see the full jars of tomatoes on the shelf. Want at least 100 quarts!

Cynthia Sandberg

Cornelia: See my response to Rich. He has a similar question about how to grow tomatoes in containers.

Cynthia Sandberg

To Rich: You can use a variation of this method when growing tomatoes in pots, but a 5-gallon pot is too small. Click here to see our full instructions on how to grow great tomatoes in containers:

Cynthia Sandberg

Cindy Hills: If you can't get your hands on fish heads, then it will be even harder to find the substitute, which is fish meal. That's ground up, dried fish bones and parts. A lot more expensive than lopping off a head of a fish (you know you're supposed to be eating fish!). You can go to our Tictail store to order fish meal, found here:


I planted 48 tomatoes in my greenhouse last season using your method of planting. We picked and picked and picked!! I processed 92 quarts of tomato products. Stewed,soup,salsa,chutney,oven dried... Then gave away the rest of the tomatoes to who ever would take. I will use the same method this season but will cut back to 24 plants. Thanks for the valuable information.


I live in Georgia where the soil is mostly clay. I put my tomato plants in containers. Last year I put it in a large planter but this year I am going to be putting it into a large plastic storage container because it is bigger. Is that going to be big enough and, should I still put all of the amendments that you suggest even though it will be in a container?

I am beginning a worm compost bin and raised gardens but they won't be that deep this year. I am hoping next year it will be deeper with all of the great compost I will be getting from the worms. Hopefully next year I'll be able to put them into the raised bed.

Thank you.
Thank you.

Evelyn Cournoyer

I live in Montreal, Quebec. Temperatures here allow planting only in early June. Your method for tomatoe planting, is very all make sense! I have already reserved the fish heads...can't wait...will keep you posted! Ev:)


Oh, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you for this post. I have been struggling mightily to grow tomatoes with pitiful results. I now feel confident this year I will be successful! :)

Cindy Hills

We don't have fish heads. Is there something else that we can use? I want to try this in our garden this year.

Rich Napolitano

Question. If we don't have ground area to plant, can we use the same method in 5 gallon buckets?

Cornelia Wright

I am a townhouse living (little more than patio area space) pot gardener and would like to improve my tomatoes. How can I adapt this method to potted plants? Last year I pulled back on the size of the pots to let the bush get bigger than the roots as advised. That did not work. I had a smaller yield. So I will be going back to the bigger clay pots but I guess my question is, do I have to get huge pots in order to have the depth and width for the plant & all the goodies? Does it make sense to try this method with pots? HELP! I want more tomatoes. I can't eat them from the store anymore as they are tasteless. BTW,I live in crazy climate Chicago, IL, so it's usually a shorter season too. Lately, a late warmth to spring, and up and down fall season. I do start them indoors. Thanks in advance. Cornelia


I live in Houston, Texas and used your method for planting tomatoes this year. My tomato plants are huge and the yield has been unbelievable. Just last Friday, I picked 44 tomatoes and I only have 12 plants. So far I have had enough tomatoes for us to eat all we want, to can 9 pints, and still had tomatoes to share with family. Thank you so much for sharing your tips!

Toy du Toit

I stay in South Africa so I need to source and adapt a little here and there with the products but this is an EXCELLENT idea .... what would be the recommended drip pressure ?


Could you use sardines? Or just purchase fish at grocer?

Cynthia Sandberg

HI Joy: Fish fertilizer is not an acceptable substitute for the fish head, as the liquid just quickly dissipates. The fish head slowly composts under the plant, providing a slow release of nutrients. Good luck!

Joy Adrian

Can I use a liquid fish fertilizer in place of the fish heads?

Love Apple Farms

Julie: Watering is not an easy answer. "When necessary" is the smart-ass answer. We don't water until the soil 4 inches below the surface is getting dry. How often that is will depend on the weather, mulch or no mulch, the age of the tomato plant, and how windy it has been.

Julie Fowler

Hi! I just planted my tomato plants with your method and watered deeply right after, how much water do you give the following days? I left them alone yesterday and watered deeply today. It's in the 80's here in Phoenix metro area. Thanks!!

Jan Tomczak

My garden brings me such joy!!!!!!!!!!1

Love Apple Farms

Hi Lori. I don't know about red ants, but I do know that the local beekeepers around here sprinkle cinnamon around the hives as an organic control of ants that want to come steal some honey. Give it a try. You can buy cinnamon in bulk on line.

Lori Alter

Garden is my passion and I am always looking for new ideas. We live in Texas where red ants make their home anywhere and everywhere. Do you have an organic treatment to rid my garden of these pests? Thank you so much!

susan kennedy

I live in florida-my plants flower-then the flowers fall off. I keep looking but can't seem to find a cause listed for this. The other problem is leaf miners-is there a natural solution ? Thanks for any help.
i am trying an Australian method this year-into my nice organic bed, I inserted a large round pipe down into the soil. Into the top half, I place my compost-egg shells, banana peels, etc. The worms should be going in and out of the bottom of the pipe, decomposing and leaving their castings all around my tomato plants roots. Have you heard of, tried or have any info about the success of this method? Thanks!

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