Growing your food is a great way to get healthy and save money. It helps if you can find things around your house to help support your garden. A cinder block may be the perfect opportunity to help you grow your own tomatoes.
You can use a cinder block to grow your tomatoes by planting your plant in the cinder hole filled with soil and compost. Alternatively, you could place your blocks over an already growing tomato plant. Then you’ll need to ensure that it’s getting the proper amount of sunlight and water.
In the rest of this article, I’ll talk about how to utilize cinder blocks in your garden, whether you have a full vegetable homestead or are starting small on your patio. I’ll also give tips and tricks for avoiding harming your plants and discuss how to grow tomatoes under their preferred conditions.
Ways To Utilize Cinder Blocks for Your Tomatoes
Cinder block gardening is a great way to grow food in small spaces. You can do it on your balcony or even indoors if you’re so inclined. Cinder blocks are porous and absorb water, which makes them ideal for growing plants like tomatoes.
They will also prevent the soil from getting too dry, which is especially important for tomatoes as they tend to wilt easily.
You’ll use your cinder blocks in the same way you’d use a pot by following these steps:
- Fill the cinder holes with soil and compost suitable for tomato seedlings.
- Add your seedlings, ensuring you place them gently without damaging their vulnerable roots.
- Water your seedlings.
If you want to put the cinder blocks down on an already growing garden, that’s fine; you need to be cautious about breaking the stems. Or, if you’re planting already growing seedlings, add them to the soil in your cinder block.
With proper planning, you could also make your garden better than ever before with cinder blocks. This video shows a few ideas for how to create a cinder block garden:
In general, be careful about your plants and soil. Your plants may suffer if the sun heats your cinder blocks too rigorously. Overheated cinder blocks may harm the contained plant and even prove fatal to your tomato plants.
Growing Your Tomatoes in Cinder Blocks: Pros and Cons
Cinder blocks can be an excellent way to grow tomatoes without fear of soil contamination if you have a yard contaminated by chemicals or other pollutants. They are also great for people who don’t want to invest in expensive pots or containers for their plants; grab some free ones from your local hardware store or construction site!
However, there are further benefits when growing your tomatoes out of a cinder block.
Pros of Growing Your Tomato Plant in a Cinder Block
- Durability: Cinder blocks are concrete, so they’re durable and sturdy—they’ll last for years outside without rusting or rotting away.
- Portability. Cinder blocks are also light enough for one person to lift before filling the block with soil, so you don’t need help moving them around the backyard.
- Support. Cinder blocks offer some support for growing tomato plants and protect their leaves and fruit from potential risks on the ground, such as pests.
- Water-wise. Watering directly into your cinder block can save the water from dissipating too quickly and reduce your water consumption.
Cons of Growing Tomatoes in Cinder Blocks
While it is quite possible to grow tomatoes in cinder blocks, there are certain drawbacks that you need to consider. These disadvantages include:
- Excess moisture: the soil inside a cinder block is more likely than not going to be slightly moist, which can lead to fungus growth and other problems with your plants if you don’t keep an eye on them (and water them).
- Excess heat: As the cinder blocks absorb the sun’s heat, the blocks may become too hot for your tomato plant and scorch the plant.
- Not enough root space. Some varieties of tomatoes, such as the heirloom varieties, have a strong lateral root growth, which may inhibit your plant’s growth,
- Cinder blocks don’t provide enough support for mature tomato plants. You may have to prune back your plant or provide a trellis to support your growing tomato.
Taking Caution When Cinder Block Gardening
Cinder block gardening isn’t the perfect solution for small spaces, though. You’ll still have to be on the lookout for a few things.
When growing tomatoes in cinder blocks, you must look for mites and aphids. Mites are tiny spiders that feed on leaves, flowers, and stems. Aphids are another type of pest that attaches themselves to plants and sucks the sap from them.
If you’re digging out the cinder blocks from old projects or have grabbed them from a construction site, you’ll need to thoroughly sanitize them to ensure they are free from bugs that can harm your plants.
A Note on Asbestos
If you’re wondering about cinder blocks for the garden, you may already know that manufacturers sometimes made cinder blocks with asbestos before the 2000s. After this time, the EPA cracked down on the dangerous substance.
It’s unlikely any cinder blocks you purchase will have asbestos in them, but it’s essential to check, especially if you’re grabbing cinder blocks from your basement!
If you’re suspicious about your cinder blocks, the EPA suggests you get them tested. A standard sanitization procedure won’t be able to get rid of asbestos or make contaminated blocks safe.
Sanitizing Cinder Blocks for Planting
Like you would with any pot or space, you need to sanitize your cinder block before you begin.
- Wipe the inside and outside of the cinder block with hot soapy water first.
- Then, you can use a bleach or vinegar solution to clean it off again.
- Submerge in hot water for a few hours, then let cool before adding any plants.
I’d highly suggest soaking in room-temp water before adding any soil or plants because this will pre-hydrate your cinder blocks before planting!
Tomato’s Ideal Conditions and Cinder Blocks
Tomatoes have shallow roots that need frequent watering and plenty of nutrients in the soil to thrive. By placing the cinder block directly over your tomato plant, you’ll be able to ensure that it gets enough water while also improving the quality of its soil.
Alternatively, planting your tomato plant inside the cinder blocks provides added protection and support.
Just like your in-ground or potted tomato plants, you’ll want to be sure that tomatoes get proper sunlight, pH, and watering. Ideally, your tomatoes will need:
- Well drained soil: For cinder block gardening, this means ensuring there is nothing on the bottom holding in water and drowning your tomatoes.
- Full sun: Your tomatoes need to be somewhere they can soak up the sunshine for most of the day.
- A soil pH of 6.2 to 6.8: You’ll need to be extra careful about pH since you’re growing your tomatoes in a non-typical planter. Try to check on the pH every week or so, and if things seem to be going amiss, check out the pH first.
Remember that cinder blocks may heat up more than your typical gardening pots. Add a temperature gauge to your soil to ensure that the space you have your tomatoes in isn’t heating up past breaking point.
Tomatoes like warm soil, but anything exceeding 80 F isn’t ideal for them, and remember, this is the soil temperature, not the temperature outside. Soil is usually cooler, especially where the roots are down under.
Can I Grow Other Plants in Cinder Blocks?
You don’t have to just set your tomatoes up in cinder blocks; you can plan your entire garden to utilize cinder blocks instead of planters!
You can grow other plants in cinder blocks, including fruits, herbs, and vegetables. Some types of flowers also thrive well when grown in cinder blocks. You’ll need to ensure the load isn’t too heavy on your soil and that your plants still get adequate sunlight and nutrients.
You can grow tomatoes in cinder blocks with ease if you have the right conditions. They can also be used as part of a garden fence when planted with herbs or flowers that have a long blooming season.
Finally, you may use them to grow crops in small spaces where conventional gardening tools would be inconvenient or impossible to use (e.g., inside your apartment).
Growing tomatoes in cinder blocks is a great way to deal with limited space, soil contamination, or other problems that might arise during gardening. If you have the right conditions and some time to spare, growing tomatoes in cinder blocks is an excellent idea.
Even if you only have access to one or two cinder blocks (which would be plenty), plenty of other plants can fit into your garden plan. Just bear in mind the cinder block limitations and ensure that you source blocks manufactured after 2000 to avoid asbestos contamination.