I have developed a gardening concept that is extremely
efficient and productive. I call it CaveGardening because I run vining plants
up two sides of an arbor which cross over and create a "cave." It is cheaper
than raised gardening without the hazzles that come with vining plants becoming
tangled, bug-infested, and mildew-proned "dreadlock" messes. (I use dreadlock
in a positive not disparaging sense.) My garden,
as the following pictures show, produces 2.5>3 times the produce per sq.ft.
which is about the market dollar value generated in produce.
I believe it would benefit your viewers with green
thumbs to consider the cavegarden approach if you did a small segment. The
more people grow at home, the lower the grocery store inflationary pressure
as well as fewer divorces and rehabs.
CaveGarden is located 3 houses behind Crossroad Coffee
at 3600 Forest Hill Avenue.
(Please note the golden pumpkins growing along top of cave with one in the
My main pride and joy is my tomato production. My
big tomato cave (as oppose to a separate pick&eat cave with numerous
cherry varieties) is 16'x8' with almost 60 plants. The cost of the supports
and concrete blocks was about $50. If you bought cages, it would cost you
$300 with an inevitable mess of tangled, diseased-proned plants. Can you
get the "cave" flavor. I could have called it skyscraper gardening.
This is a picture taken Sept 17, 2015, of the cave
from Anne Street. You are more than welcome to come by. I trim the lower
leaves as they brown-out. On Sept 8, 2015, I counted 180 1.5 pounders in
the left half either ready to pick or having just fruited with many, many
blooms on top. Each tomato would have a $5 value at Elwood Thompson
organic food store.
George was nice ...
until he grew into a nicer Abe. (2014 pictures)
One handful means at least two mouthfuls.
With CaveGardening and drip irrigation, the dollar
value per plant is unbelievable to many people. One viewer asked if I used
Another person asked if they were still juicy. "Yes,"
I said, "juicier than your first kiss." I also think that my tomatos are
better than so-called "Hanover" tomatos.
The above picture of sandwich seducing beefsteak
tomatos has a market value of $40. This does not show the other tomatos on
the same plant above nor the higher blossoms. One can expect a pod every
12" to 18". Below are Romas that weigh up to 2 lbs with little juice as the
bulk is pulp for canning salsa and sauce.
My average big tomato plant produces 40 to 50 tomatos
during the season for a cost of about 50 cents per plant (seed, water and
fertilizer 10/10/10). That is $200 to $250 per plant. With drip irrigation
I am able to plant three plants where two are suggested. Again, notice the
clusters as well as the drip line on the ground. A problem is using a string
strong enough that will not break under the weight of 20 or 30 tomatos. Below
are ripe Romas.
The caves eventuate into overhead horizontal Christmas
trees under which you can walk and eat.
I expect to pick one or two bushels of green tomatos
just before the first frost. They will gradually ripen over six-eight weeks.
I have had a fresh, juicy tomato as late as January 10 of the following year.
These are the Christmas Day tomatos, one year, ripening at different
CaveGardening is great for sweet potatos. Below is
the cave which becomes impassable as the vines take on King Kong's personality:
Where do the vines go? Anywhere they want.
This image shows one big benefit of the cavegarden
approach: Plants get more sunlight for stimulating veggy growth: Morning
from the east, midday overhead, and evening from the west. The below picture
shows part of the harvest from the 16x8 cave in 2014: 320 pounds from 128
sq.ft. However, the sun exposure area ended up being 16'x35' which echos
the claim of getting 2.5 to 3 times the produce: The sun has over 4 times
the leaf surface area to create sugar for storage in the tubers.
(The pear-shaped fellow in the picture shows
why he gives away about 2/3's of what he grows.)
Again, the question can be asked, "Does he use steroids?"
Nope. I gave this one to a firestation so they could make sweet potato
You should not go into my cuke cave if you are prone
to headaches. Record vine length was almost 40'. My tomato record is almost
30'. In 2015, I have one that is pushing 20' which would be more if I had
not been 6 weeks late in planting, June 1 instead of tax day.
If you like either eggplants or summer squash, vertical
is better than horizontal, plants below are 6' and 7' tall. I've given away
100 eggplants from ten plants with another 40 still on the plants as of Sept
17, 2015. Where's Waldo? Can you find the twenty egglants? Eggplants are
a chameleon food. I like to take a mushroom recipe and substitute diced
Cavegarden evolved from a simple pragmatic consideration:
Skyscraping gardening is not for the faint of heart: This image appeared
in the Washington Post garden section of the an old fool picking tomatos
from a 19' tall plant on a 20' ladder.
The most productive one seed plant in my garden is
the green pumpkin from South America. Below is a
picture in which one can see four hanging pumpkins from one seed as well
as all the big leaf foliage below the fence. Between 12 and 15 basketball
sized pumpkins will be harvested that will winter over until spring with
soups and pies made along the way. The actual plant is in the center of the
garden with the two golden pumpkins in the middle of a vine that is 50' long.
And, at the beginning over two weeks, I cut off 200' of collaterals from
the vines on top of the cave frame. From the same vine grows the hanging
pumpkin to lower left of circled owl (right side of image) and the hanging
pumpkin between and below the two golden pumpkins. Amazing amount of calories
from one seed.
With so many green pumpkins one can endulge an August
green pumpkin snowman.
In summary, preparing for next year's garden begins
this fall. Pound for pound, cave gardening takes up less space than ground
level or raised gardening. As noted on my website
www.Cavegarden.com, it has many benefits. In addition, one should visit the
website that offers more tips. Be sure to view the seven minute video,
for why gardening is cheaper than a psychiatrist, a rehab or a divorce.
I am available for comment if you wish at
This will be posted on the Cavegarden website as