Monday, July 18, 2022

MATER-RIZER: The Farm Report 07-18-2022

The Farm Report


Here's a specialty 'How-To' for you from Oakdale Farm.

Occasionally - yes, just occasionally - I've been known to get a little behind in my chores. Getting my early tomatoes out of their 'Wall-O-Water' cold spring starter brooder houses and into their growing up tomato cages is one of those places. When the 'maters decide it is time to stop growing roots and push on up into the world of sun and fun, they do it whether you're ready or not. This time (once again) I wasn't ready. This isn't my first rodeo either! So I'm prepared to handle the problem with one of my little inventions. I call it my 'Mater-Rizer' bucket. Mater-Rizer - get it? I can use it to 'rise' my tomatoes into their cages without damage; and I can do it all by myself.

I use a 5-gallon bucket with the bottom cut out to keep the Wall-O-Waters from tipping over in the wind. These are 'old technology' from the '70's. They are just plastic cylinders into which you can add water. The water acts as a solar collector during the day to warm up. Then at night they give off that heat back into the 'maters. The bucket stabilizes the whole works out here in the high winds plains. The little baby plants say a huge thank you and grow like crazy - even when it is cold outside.

So how does it work?

Step A. Remove bottomless bucket and W-o-W.

Step 2. Get the Mater-Rizer and put it around the leggy plant. My Mater-Rizer is just a 5-gallon bucket with the bottom cut out, and then cut in half lengthwise. I used some webbing and rope to make a hinge on one side. Crude but effective. Then, I tied another piece of rope to one side of the 'Rizer to act like a tourniquet clamp. I pull it up tight and cinch up the rope to hold it in place while I work.

Which means while I get one of my concrete re-wire cages and slip it down over the whole works.

The way I make my cages, there is a 6-inch wire spike at the end of each vertical run which acts like a ground stake. I push that all down into the earth as far as I can. In Wisconsin, that was enough. Out here in the Hurricane Wind Tunnel Zone, I have a horizontal wooden rail (tree sapling) tied to a couple of steel fence posts for extra support. Once the cage is staked and tied to the rail, it is pretty 'untippable.'

So after everything is in place and secured, the rest is easy-peasy. I just pull the bucket, ahem, Mater-Rizer, up out of the cage.  As the bucket rises, 

Hey Presto! This leaves the plant behind with no broken shoots or torn up leaves. I've used this setup for years.

In no time flat, my 24 tomato plants were all safely supported inside their cages, sans damage. Now, my little plant friends, GROW and BEAR FRUIT!

A few weeks later, and they appear to have heard the message! Yep! These are the same ones in the top pictures. Tomatoes - UNLIKE ME - love it hot and humid.

Same place, different angle. The drip barrels don't hurt either. I put a little extra Miracle Grow in them from time to time as well.

And that's how we do it out here at Oakdale Farm.

I can only imagine what the people in England are feeling like with temps predicted in the 100F range for London tomorrow; unheard of. At least I have AC to go into.



  1. Mighty Maters! Good luck with the heat!

  2. Hey, that was me, Chris.

    1. A rose by any other name???? Cheers! I'm staying close to the AC!

  3. What a system, and WHAT A TOMATO BED! I have one pathetic-looking little plant in a pot on my deck; it has bloomed but not yet set any fruit. It's just going to be one of those years....

    1. From a recent read: 'Sometimes you're the windshield; sometimes you're the bug.' Keep on pressing forward!

  4. That is one award winning tomato plot. I hope you'll show photos of the tomatoes produced. I suspect a bumper crop.

    1. You bet! I hope I can show you jars and jars and jars of canned tomato juice and whole canned tomatoes, and canned sauce, and, and...... I'm hopeful!


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