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1,000 Tomatoes from 5 plants

Ben Bishop

Joined: Jul 09, 2011
Posts: 36

So I have this book called High-Yield gardening. In one chapter, it outlines a strategy called "Circle of Cages" promising a massive yield of tomatoes with relatively little input. I have found no mention of this on the internet nor it's inventor Robert E. Sanders so I figure I would be the one to preserve it on the internet. I have not tried it yet, but I want to know what you all think!

Here it is

"One sure-fire attnetion getter is the round toamo bed originated by Robert E. Sanders. Described in Flower and Garden Magazine in (April/May 1981), Sanders "circle of cages" method makes possible incredible yields-upwards of 1,000 tomatoes from a circle 8 feet in diameter while creating an attractive design motif. The round accommodates 5 caged plants planted 2 feet apart and an assortment of low-growing crops that fill in towards the outer edge of the circle.

The high-yield secret of the tomato circle is a 12-inch wide, 24-inch-deep minicircle in its center, which is primed with fish emulsion fertilzier in water, then filled with a rich layering of manure or compost, followed by bonemeal and grass clippings, topped by manure to bring the compost to ground level. Sanders then recommends moving out 6 inches and constructing a 6 inch wide, 9 inch deep watering trough. The bottom of this concentric circle should hold one half inch of bone meal covered with 1/2 inch dried manure. Other nutrients can be added through the growing season as the circle of cages is watered. To complete the basic arrangement, five tomato plants are planted around the 2 1/2 foot space remaining betweeen the outside of the trough and the outer perimeter of the 8 foot circle (Sanders arranges the plants equidistantly with the help of a garbage casn lid and recommends planting the tomatoes very deeply in richly prepared holes 12 inches wide and 24 inches deep. For added beauty, the circle of cages can be ringed by 15 inch high garden fencing and surrounded by colorful flowers which will help ensure pollination"

-High-Yield Gardening by Marjorie Hunt and Brenda Bortz

Do you guys think this could work?
Kay Bee

Joined: Oct 10, 2009
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
is it 1000 tomatoes or 1000 pounds of tomatoes?

if you plant a cherry tomato, like a sungold or super-sweet 100, in pretty much regular soil and keep it watered and fed, it can produce up around a 1000 tomatoes.

I am assuming that the author means full size tomatoes (4 oz +?), which would be pretty impressive.

I'm interested in figuring out ways to get annuals to provide high-yields so that I can cut back on the number of plants, and therefore time and space required to grow them. I grow mostly trees, bushes and such these days, but a couple hundred pounds of tomatoes, peppers and eggplant would be nice each season.

My best results have been planting italian beefsteak tomatoes in a deep bed that was ammended with rabbit manure, mulched with oak & maple leaves and watered through drip irrigation. Probably got around 20lbs per plant on average. I'd like to find a way to get it to 50lbs per plant without having to use a mountain of manure and a pond full of water...

"Limitation is the mother of good management", Michael Evanari

Location: Southwestern Oregon (Jackson County), Zone 7
Brenda Groth

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4432
Location: North Central Michigan
yeah I was thinking the same thing, sometimes I get so many small tomatoes from one plant I can barely keep them picked...

but one other thing that this thread hasn't mentioned is how easy it would be to "cover" that circle with some type of tarp or maybe even a market umbrella in case of freezing weather..which is a great idea in the colder climates..

if you used drip irrigation some sort of cover ready to go would be quite our scarey weather here where we get frosts sometimes every mo of the year


Bloom where you are planted.
Kay Bee

Joined: Oct 10, 2009
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
setting it up so it was easily covered is a very good point, Brenda. With that description of fish emulsion, bone meal, compost, manure... it reminds me of a hot bed set up that you could use on either end of the warm season.
Brenda Groth

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4432
Location: North Central Michigan
wouldn't this situation work for just about any type of plant? basically you are getting the food to the roots..

I have seen examples in books and articles where they made a circular wire compost pile and pile all their waste in the pile and then plant their garden plants, yeah usually they mention potatoes, but duh anything would work except maybe blueberries..round the circle.

you could even plant vines up the circle (but that said some vines like beans don't really like that much food).

I can see this working in a small urban space well could really use curcurbita type plants up a tall cylinder filled with they are huge feeders..and you can train them up the wire if it is well anchored..
subject: 1,000 Tomatoes from 5 plants
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