Tomatoes in containers for food in refugee camps (HGTV)

Interested in container gardening for its potentialities to set up vegetable production in the drylands or deserts, I started some experiments in plastic bottles and plastic bags at home in Belgium (see former messages on this blog).  Currently, I am checking publications on container gardening for their “tips” to enhance our chances to grow food in the refugee camps of the Saharawis in S.W. Algeria.  Here is an article that may help us to grow tomatoes in containers, and why not, in plastic bags or bottles.

Read at :


Tomatoes in Containers

No room at all to garden? Not to worry. You can have a beautiful vegetable garden in pots. Here’s how to culture a tomato in a container:

  • Place a transplant in a plastic 15-inch-diameter container. You can use any kind of container–from a brand-new faux terracotta pot to a large plastic bucket. Just make sure that the container has drainage holes in the bottom.
  • As the plant grows, it becomes top heavy. Use a wooden pot trellis, a stake or a tomato cage to keep it upright.
  • Container tomatoes tend to grow bushy and unruly. Prune the side shoots regularly to produce a single stem that’s easier to support.
  • When the stem is about a foot tall, begin attaching it to the support. Thin strips of fabric make great ties.
  • Potted tomatoes need to be watered more frequently to keep from drying out. The best time to water is early in the day. To help the plants get off to a good start, apply a water-soluble starter fertilizer at the recommended rate.


As the conditions in the refugee camps in the Sahara desert are really extremely difficult (high temperatures, saline water), we are filling the plstic bottles and bags with a mixture of sand, organic soil collected in the corals of the goats and sheep and some TerraCottem soil conditioner (to keep more moisture in the containers).


Our experiments are very promising.  We believe to be able to grow all kinds of vegetables in these bottles and bags.  Moreover, we clean the environment, as these bottles and bags are not flying around anymore : they are recycled for food production !

We will keep you informed. 


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

One thought on “Tomatoes in containers for food in refugee camps (HGTV)”

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