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The Tomatoes have left the building!




Note the supervisor in the window

Note the supervisor in the window


In an impressive display of proactiveness and organizational skills,  I finally, three weeks later than planned, put the tomatoes in their final home. The containers I purchased to do this are nothing less than Calgary’s answer to the infamous Earthbox, the much less famous Maxi-kap. Designed by a Dutch company the Maxi-kap is exclusively produced by Garden Retreat garden centre, although a couple of other stores in Calgary carry it. The idea is about the same as the Earthbox – a self watering, self feeding container that has several advantages over regular container gardening.

 Tomatoes - maxikap


First any container grown vegetable will be weed free. And until you’ve spent your afternoon weeding, you have no idea just how appealing that is. Secondly, it’s self-watering. Since some plants, tomatoes in particular are heavy drinkers this will eliminate daily watering.  A light container will not overheat the roots of the plants requiring even more watering, the containers are very space efficient fitting three tomatoes and two cucumbers per box, and of course they are reasonably mobile allowing you a bit more leeway as far as placement.


They’re not all sun and roses though. I’ve seen some of the disadvantages first hand, my primary concern being tomato cages. More specifically the lack thereof. Since the containers are Styrofoam, you can’t exactly attach one to the side or on top without wrecking the box. One local gardener simply inserted the cages into the soil of the box, but mine promptly fell over when the slightest breeze blew, threatening to topple the plants in the process.


Secondly, the containers themselves should probably be on a platform of some sort, say one with wheels. The Earthbox has optional casters, as well as tomato cages that attach to the sides of the plastic box, plastic obviously being much more appropriate to the task. There are pretty cedar boxes on wheels that are sold separately for the maxi-kap, but at roughly a hundred dollars each, they ain’t cheap. If I get motivated I’ll build just a simple plywood platform and screw little wheels onto it. But that’s in the future – I’m nothing if not lazy.


The planting was easy enough:


Open the box and insert plastic liner inside.

 Tomatoes - maxikap liner


Replace the lid and drop a cute water level ball into the watering hole.

Place bag of soil on top of the lid.

 Tomatoes - maxikap bag

Reading that tomatoes do really well with a red mulch, I added a layer of that as well. We’ll see if it helps.

 Tomatoes - maxikap mulch

Cut holes out for the plants.

 Tomatoes - maxikap holes

Root around the bottom of the bag of dirt and cut an X at the bottom of the bag over each planting hole.


Push the earth from the bag into each hole, make sure it’s packed reasonably well. You don’t want air pockets or they will prevent the water from reaching the roots.


Plant a tomato plant in each space. Get dirt all over you – it’s fun. Try not to destroy the tomato roots as you go.


Ta-da! Admire your handywork. Lament the lack of cages. Tell yourself you have a few days to rig something up. Pray the tomatoes do well.

 Tomatoes - maxikap done!

My tomatoes didn’t get a chance to get hardened off properly. Between me being at work and not being able to babysit them, and the winds and the snow eliminating two weekends, they got perhaps three days of life in the shade outside before moving out. I know sun can burn delicate leaves that have never felt it unfiltered, and prepared some shade cloth to cover them (somehow?) if necessary, but for once the gods of weather were on my side. It’s been overcast yesterday and today in Calgary, with moderate temperatures, the odd drizzle but no harsh sun or overwhelming wind. If this keeps up for just a few more days, they should have an easier transition. Here’s hoping.



6 comments to The Tomatoes have left the building!

  • I am very keen at your way in handling tomatoes…. So meticulous…. ~ bangchik

  • Those look great! I love my maxikaps, although you’re absolutely right about the cages. I just jammed mine in there, and they’re standing nice and strong. But there could definitely be a better way to design something like that! Hope the weather continues to cooperate for you (my plants have been LOVING it!).

  • Jean

    Admire your “handywork”! Get it? There are your hand prints in the soil there. Haha! You’re even funny when you’re not trying. Or maybe you did try. Well, that part was funny anyway. ;p

    I’m coming over for a toasted tomato on whole wheat when they are ready!

  • admin

    @ bangchik – thanks! Gardening in Calgary is hard, so anything that makes it easier is a plus. Not at all like your friendly climate 🙂

    @ Jennifer – I am really really crossing my fingers on this one. I picked a shelterd spot and am hoping for minimal wind, but I didn’t jam the supports in too hard cause I didn’t want to wreck the styrofoam. Plus there’s no guarantee that they’ll hold once they’re tall and loaded with tomatoes. I’m thinking of ways to rig up some stakes behind them and tie them as they grow. Definite engineering flaw in my books. 🙂

    @ Jean – lol – I was going to mention the handprints, but thought too easy – insert your joke here… 🙂 Fire roasted tomato on a piece of baguette rubbed with garlic??? Come to mama!

  • This is like the coolest thing ever! What a terrific way to grow plants. And I’ve never heard of it. Is that sad or what? Where the heck have I been?

    Oh my…Did you say fire roasted tomato on a piece of baguette with garlic? I’m going to have to hunt you down…LOL…

  • admin

    @ WR – Oh don’t worry – they seem to be a Calgary creation more than anything. I’m surprised they aren’t marketed more here though – it took some googling to find them. I know I’m a complete novice and all, but a product as cool as this one should be in every store and in every yard. I could offer them unsolicited marketing advice of course…

    On fire-roasted tomatoes – c’mon down! Anytime you’re here don’t hesistate to shout. 🙂

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