Tomato Success Kit from Gardener’s Supply: Product Review
Overall, this is a very good self-watering planter and the support cage works well for growing tomatoes.
The Tomato Success Kit, a self-watering planter and support cage available exclusively from Gardener’s Supply, is supposed to grow “bigger, healthier tomatoes” and is “garden-tested and guaranteed.” It’s not clear what the tomatoes are bigger and healthier than, but I’m always happy to try anything that promises to produce more tasty tomatoes.
There are two “versions” of the Tomato Success Kit – one is organic (that’s the one I reviewed) and one isn’t.
>> Related Article: 7 Terrific Tomato Tips
The kit includes a self-watering planter, a cage to hold up the tomato plant (there’s also an optional cage extension), two 20-quart bags of Organic Self-Watering Potting Mix, and 1 lb. of Organic Tomato Fertilizer – just add water and two tomato plants and you’re ready to grow. You can even buy a set of 4 casters if you plan to move the planter around.
The instructions say to plant one or two tomatoes in the container, preferably a determinate type that won’t grow too tall. Given how quickly and vigorously tomatoes grow in this planter, I definitely wouldn’t plant more than two. If you do want to grow indeterminate tomatoes, you’ll probably need to add the 19-inch Cage Extension (sold separately) to stop it from toppling over.
Assembling the Tomato Success Kit
As with all Gardener’s Supply products, the kit comes with a page of assembly instructions, including drawings, that are fairly easy to follow.
Overall, it was simple to assemble the Tomato Success Kit. Just snap all the pieces together (no tools required, with one small exception) and you’re done. The parts fit together easily and the instructions were clear.
One thing the instructions don’t mention is that if you’re using the optional casters, attach them before you add the potting mix – you won’t be able to do it when the container is full.
The self-watering planter is watertight so can be used indoors (although I wouldn’t try to grow tomatoes inside). Because of this, you’ll need to cut the tops off the drainage columns in the floor of the planter to ensure that water can drain out of the reservoir in case of excessive rain or overwatering. I used my ARS pruners to snip the tops off, but you could use a utility knife, sharp scissors, or punch a hole with a hammer and a large nail. Do not forget this step.
After that, it’s simply a matter of following the instructions to complete assembly of the Tomato Success Kit.
Planting in the Tomato Success Kit
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 Tomato Success Kit comes with organic potting mix and tomato fertilizer (note that there are two versions of the Tomato Success Kit; one is organic, the other isn’t).
It’s important to mix the potting mix and the entire container of fertilizer, and then moisten the mixture before adding it to the planter (it should be damp, not soaking wet). It takes a surprising amount of water to adequately moisten the mix (about 2 gallons).
One of the benefits of the Tomato Success Kit 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. However, as with any self-watering potting mix, if you add the mix to the planter when it’s dry, it won’t be able to wick up water from the reservoir.
To ensure that water can be wicked up, be sure to firmly press moistened potting mix into the channels in the reservoir grill. If you don’t do this, moisture can’t be drawn up from the reservoir into the planter.
Tomatoes are temperamental – they need constant, uninterrupted moisture or they’ll develop cracks and be more susceptible to blossom end rot. So a planter that can provide a steady source of water will make a huge difference in the quality and quantity of your tomatoes.
When the channels are filled, fill the planter to within 1 to 2 inches of the top with moistened potting mix and then plant your tomatoes. Tomatoes tend to grow quite large so I strongly recommend that you follow Gardener’s Supply’s advice to only plant two tomatoes in the Tomato Success Kit planter.
Adding the Support Cage
The instructions suggest that the support cage be installed after the tomatoes are planted, but I planted the tomatoes after the cage was in place. It’s a little tricky to get the young plants in place and dug in while reaching around the cage, but it’s doable. So don’t worry if you put the cage up before planting.
Follow the assembly instructions exactly or the support cage is likely to end up crooked or put together incorrectly. And be sure the cage braces are securely fastened at each corner. They do a very good job of holding the cage so it doesn’t fall over but they need to be properly snapped in place first.
Growing in the Tomato Success Kit
I planted 2 Black Krim heirloom tomatoes (one of my favorites – many thanks to Renee’s Garden Seeds for providing the seeds!) in the Tomato Success Kit and will definitely need to add the optional cage extension, even though the support cage is 30 inches tall. The plants have grown quickly and are loaded with tomatoes (which isn’t always the case with Black Krim).
Larger Planter Size – One of the things I like is that the planter is larger than the typical self-watering tomato container. The length (26 inches) and height (10.5 inches) aren’t too unusual, but at almost 20 inches wide, it’s almost twice as wide as other planters. That means there’s more room for roots to develop and less likelihood of taller plants falling over.
Holds a Lot of Water – The reservoir holds 4 gallons and the fill spout is big enough to put a hose directly into the reservoir. I like that it has a cover over the opening so critters don’t find their way in and drown, although I’m not sure how long the plastic cover will last. Here in the Tucson heat, plants use a lot of water so I put an emitter from the drip irrigation system through the opening and closed the cover over it – it works beautifully to automatically keep the reservoir full.
Overall, this is a very good self-watering planter and the support cage works well for growing tomatoes. The parts fit together easily and the cage braces do a good job of holding the cage in place so it doesn’t tip over. The 4-gallon reservoir means that you don’t have to water as often and the fill spout is large enough to make filling the reservoir a breeze. Of all the tomato growing kits or planters I’ve tested, this is the one I like best.
Where to Buy
The Tomato Success Kit (with both the organic or non-organic potting mix) is available from Gardener’s Supply for $79.95 plus shipping. Both versions are also available on Amazon for the same price, as is the potting mix and fertilizer.
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!
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