the shortest tomato plant

Let’s talk stature.  Many tomato plant varieties grow tall, large, and wild.  When conditions are right, these plants seem to grow overnight in a manic effort to reach the sun.  Tomato plants can be tamed with various contraptions (including stakes, cages, and trellises), whereby poorly located shoots are pruned in order to “train” the plant to grow in the right direction.

Training tomato plants on the ground plane is difficult enough for many gardeners.  Farmers often develop their own tried and true methods for supporting this crop in the fields, but what about on rooftops?  Having performed green roof construction oversight around the country, I can attest to the fact that rooftops present very different growing conditions than their at-grade counterparts.  A plant species that thrives in a ground landscape may fail on a roof due to the high winds, rapidly drying soil, and extreme temperature fluctuations.  This added exposure presents a challenge for rooftop farmers, and so here are a few tips that might help:

1|  Mindfully site your farm (use taller buildings as wind blocks while maximizing solar orientation)

2|  Select hardy crops (there’s no room for finicky crops)

3|  Plant low-growing varieties (in the case of tomatoes, plant determinate varieties and train them to grow wide and low)

4|  Plant densely (encourage plants to block the wind for each other, much like the trees in a forest)

5|  Build hoop houses (secure them so that they don’t blow away!)

6|  Mulch (one of our readers pointed out that leaf mulch works well on roofs)

7|  Experiment (the world is your playground; go for it)

2 Comments on “the shortest tomato plant

  1. Thanks for your comment, Larry! I neglected to mention mulching, which is hugely beneficial to many rooftop crops. Tips like yours are helpful to readers, so keep them coming.

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