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Can You Grow Tomatoes In A Kiddie Pool – Here’s How It’s Done

Perhaps you have a kiddie pool that no longer fits your family, but you still feel it has some way to be used, especially since it is just sitting around taking up space. A more helpful way to use that space can be by adding a small garden plot to yield some homegrown tomatoes. But can you grow tomatoes in a kiddie pool?

You can grow tomatoes in a kiddie pool, however, it will need modifications. Kiddie pools need additional drainage and a sunny location to grow tomatoes well. Additionally, plastic pools are better than inflatable pools since you will have to drill drainage holes at the bottom, so your tomatoes are not sitting in stagnant water.

The kiddie pool acts as any container or raised bed garden would and can be repurposed in many creative ways to continue adding joy to you and your family’s lives. Read on to learn how you can grow your tomatoes in a kiddie pool and other vegetables that can be grown in the same way. 

How do you grow tomatoes in a kiddie pool? 

An essential part of creating this makeshift container garden is location. Pick an area with ample sun that other trees in your yard will not shade. Tomatoes like full, bright sun, as do many other herbs, fruits, and vegetable plants. 

Start off with a clean pool, free from any dust or dirt that has accumulated since the last use. To modify the pool, add drainage holes throughout the bottom of the kiddie pool. Aim for spacing each one-inch diameter hole about 12 inches apart.

This can be done most simply by using a drill, but it can also be done manually with a sharp object and some determination. Next, you will want a mesh or net of some kind to lay at the bottom of the pool to cover the drainage holes and help keep the soil in the kiddie pool. 

You can use a mix of all-purpose potting soil or any other mix of garden soil for the soil. You can also create your own using soil from your yard, store-bought soil, and/or other soil additives such as peat moss or perlite to aid in drainage.

It is also recommended to add a balanced, granular, slow-release fertilizer that will help keep your plants nourished during the growing season, significantly when growing tomatoes or other fruiting plants. 

The amount of soil needed is also dependent on the size and depth of your pool. This can be calculated by using the classic length x width x height formula, which equals the volume in cubic feet in your pool. Divide this number by 27 to get the cubic yards your pool will contain.

The average bag of soil is between 1-2 cubic feet but should be listed explicitly on the bag either in cubic feet or yards. Most likely, you will need at least two standard 40 pound bags of soil. Prepare your soil for planting by creating an even, flat surface still aerated but not too loose. 

You can then transplant your tomato plants into the soil and space them out about one foot apart. You can grow from seeds, but this will take longer and requires more initial care, so using pre-grown seedlings is usually the best route.

Keep in mind the number of plants you can fit in your space depends on the diameter of your pool. Avoid overcrowding your pool with plants, as there is limited space for their root systems to establish themselves, and you might wind up with no surviving plants due to competition for nutrition and space. 

Once you’ve planted your tomatoes, water them gently to help settle the soil. Now you have created a container garden of sorts, and all that is left is to wait for your plants to grow. Water your plants regularly, preferably in the morning, to ensure sufficient hydration throughout the day. Tomato plants need regular watering to avoid your tomatoes from potentially bursting because of irregular, sudden influxes of water. 

What vegetables can grow in a kiddie pool? 

Just as with any container, you can grow most types of herbs and some types of vegetables in these spaces as long as there is sufficient drainage, resources, and space between the plants you are growing. The most limiting factor is the root system since most containers have a set depth, and the plants cannot grow freely in the ground.

Plants with more shallow root systems that do not sprawl or have a tap root are the best choices for container or kiddie pool gardening since you don’t have to worry about them spreading too much or out-competing the other plants.

Just make sure you are planting them enough distance apart to accommodate their root systems. You will not be able to grow fruit trees in these containers as their root systems call for large, deep areas to help keep the tree anchored as it grows. 

Some plants can be used in companion planting, but these often utilize the differences in root depth to avoid competition for nutrients in a single layer of soil. Companion planting might be best utilized in a larger area with more depth. Using a kiddie pool to garden might mean having a monoculture within that pool: however, there is no hard limit on how many kiddie pools you can use to establish your garden. 

What vegetables have shallow roots?

Many herbs have shallow root systems, with plants such as tomato, spinach, kale, and green onions that can effectively be planted in shallow containers at least 8 inches. 

A herb garden grown in a kiddie pool would be perfect for the space as the yield on these types of plants is very large, and they grow quite quickly, especially in the right conditions. The only herb you might want to keep by itself is mint, as it is a quick and aggressive spreading plant that can outcompete the other herbs it is paired with. 

Flowering annuals, while not vegetables, also tend to have shallow root systems. Plants like lavender, zinnias, and rhododendrons are good choices for a small space container garden. These can be a nice addition to your kiddie pool container garden if you’re looking to add some resources for pollinators in your area or add some color to your garden that can later be cut and brought inside as a homemade bouquet. 

Final Thoughts

You can essentially use any container to make a garden, so long as a few requirements are met:

  • Sufficient drainage.
  • Access to nutrients and water.
  • A place where it can get enough sun.

Plants are relatively simple beings that want to thrive, regardless of what kind of container (or lack thereof) is used. 

Not every plant is suited for container gardening, and some container choices are better than others depending on what kind of plant is desired. Ultimately, a kiddie pool repurposed as a container garden is a savvy and environmentally friendly way to reuse a large amount of plastic that might not normally be reused or recycled.