Want to grow a ton of tomatoes, but plagued by evil soil or limited space? The Japanese Tomato Ring allows you to grow 5 lush plants in a space 3" x 3", which should supply any family with tomatoes from
summer through frost.
Basically, the Japanese Tomato Ring takes advantage of two things - your compost pile, and the tomato plant's propensity to grow roots along its stem. The ring allows your compost pile to provide your plants with support and food, while the contents decompose and create soil for next season.
Build your tomato ring with 4’ tall heavy-gage chicken wire and four to six strong bamboo or plastic poles. Line out the circumference of your ring on the ground, and place your poles 18” apart, either in a ring or a square. Encircle the poles with the wire, sinking the bottom 6’ – 8” of the wire into the ground (use wire cutters and snip away the bottom wire of the roll, creating “legs” that will help stabilize the ring.) Tie the ring together with plastic garbage bag ties or pieces of lighter-gage wire (such as 14 or 16 gage.)
Begin to fill the cage with compost materials – grass clippings, shredded newspapers, coffee grounds, vegetable peelings, etc. Add a small amount of compost activator, such as Ringers, to begin the decomposition process. As the pile inside the cage reduces, add more compost materials, layering “green stuff” (grass clippings and vegetable matter) with “brown stuff” (newspaper, bark mulch, etc.)
Place your tomato plants every 18” around outside of the cage, and tie the stems loosely to the wires of the cage. Use soft material such as old socks, panty hose, or jute twine.
Water your tomato plants by aiming the stream toward the middle of the tomato cage. This will leach out the beneficial nutrients and active microorganisms from the compost and send it straight into the ground, offering your tomato plants a feeding with every watering.
As the season progresses, you may find your tomato plants creating small “nubs” along the side of the stem that faces the tomato ring. These “nubs” are the beginning of feeder roots; let the plant send these roots into the compost inside the ring. The more roots the plants create, the more resistant that plant will be to drought-induced stress, insects, and diseases.