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Tomato Plant Roots and Better Tomatoes

Tomato plant roots are not the same from the top to the bottom. The top parts of tomato plant roots are the key ones for absorbing nutrients. The lower roots are better at absorbing water.

With that in mind, there is a simple technique (see also ring culture) that many gardeners use to grow tomatoes in the UK that produce a heavier and healthier crop.

The only equipment needed is a few large plastic pots with the base cut out. our step by step guide takes you through the process with lots of helpful pictures to make it absolutely simple. Click on any picture below to enlarge it.

The only equipment you need is a large plastic pot. Cut out the base of the pot to leave it as shown in the picture on the right. The size of the pot is not crucial but it must be big enough to allow the tomato plant to be contained with it.

Cut out the base of a large plastic pot

Place the cut pot over the tomato plant and firm it into the surrounding ground.

This can be done any time after the tomato plant has been planted. The ideal time is when it is about 25cm (10in) tall.



Remove any leaves and stems from the bottom 3cm (1in) from the plant. Sprinkle compost into the pot around the plant to a depth of about 3cm (1in). Gently firm down the compost and water with a mix of liquid tomato fertiliser.

Every couple of weeks add another 3cm (1in) of compost until it reaches the top of the pot. When you water with a liquid tomato feed, this will feed the existing and new top roots allowing the plant to absorb more nutrients than would normally be the case. The lower roots will still grow downwards in search of more water.

I have seen some allotment holders who use tyres instead of the pots. This also works well although the amount of compost required is significantly increased.