Tomato’s In A Bucket!

growing-organic-tomatoes First things first! Before you rush out and buy a packet of seed or a small tomato seedling (set) please consider the following and decide what tomato variety is best suited to your wants, family needs and growing conditions.

Hybrid or Heirloom seed? Which is best for you? Hybrid seed in agriculture and gardening is produced by artificially cross-pollinated plants. Hybrid seed is predominant in agriculture and home gardening, and is one of the main contributing factors to the dramatic rise in agricultural output during the last half of the 20th century.

Heirloom plant variety is a cultivar that was commonly grown during earlier periods in human history, but which is not used in modern large scale agriculture. The trend of growing heirloom plants in gardens has been growing in popularity in the United States and Europe over the last decade.

This is Important. Choosing to plant a Determinate or a Indeterminate Variety is a critical consideration if you will only have 1 or 2 container grown tomato plants.

Determinate varieties of tomatoes, also called “bush” tomatoes, are varieties that are bred to grow to a compact height (approx. 4 feet). They stop growing when fruit sets on the terminal or top bud, ripen all their crop at or near the same time (usually over a week or two week period of time), and then the vine will die. They may require a limited amount of caging and/or staking for support, should NOT be pruned or “suckered” as it severely reduces the crop, and will perform relatively well in a container, minimum size of 5 or 6 gallon.
Indeterminate varieties of tomatoes are also called “vining” tomatoes. They will grow and produce fruit until killed by frost and can reach heights of up to 10 feet (a trellis is useful) although 6 feet is considered the norm. They will bloom, set new fruit and ripen fruit all the time throughout the growing season. They require substantial caging and/or staking for support and pruning and the removal of suckers is practiced by many but is not mandatory. Because of the need for substantial support and the size of the plants, indeterminate varieties are not usually recommended as container plants without large sturdy cages or trellis.

Fertilizing. Add a complete garden fertilizer at the time the soil is prepared. For tomatoes, use a fertilizer low in nitrogen (N), high in phosphorous (P) and medium to high in potassium (K). Among the best analyses for tomatoes are 8-32-16 and 6-24-24. These three numbers correspond to nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (N-P-K) and always appear in that specific order. When a 4th number is included, it indicates the sulfur content (N-P-K-S). Avoid using ammonia fertilizers such as urea or ammonium nitrate (read the label!) for tomato fertilization. Fertilizer should be worked well into the top few inches of soil before planting seeds or seedlings (sets).

Don’t make fun of me! Tomato’s like warm soil. Don’t bother to plant seeds or seedlings until your soil temperature is above 65 degrees at 2 inches deep. Closer to 70 degrees is even better. Tomato seed and seedlings like moist warm soil and will fail to germinate or grow properly in cool or wet soil. And yes I do recommend that you splurge and buy an out door thermometer to use in checking soil temperature.

Tomato’s don’t like it when the air temperature gets above 90 degrees and really hate it when soil surface temperatures get above about 85 degrees. Try covering the soil with 1 or 2 inches of a good grass/hay based mulch to retain moisture and to help reduce your soils temperature. {When air/soil temperatures rise, tomato’s may stop blooming or stop setting fruit until late summer or early fall when air – soil temperatures are again within your tomato’s comfort zone}.

Helpful Hint schmoozelfleugen has gently reminded me “make sure the containers are well staked..not just the plants, but the buckets themselves, if you’re growing indeterminate plants! My indeterminate plants regularly get to eight or ten feet tall, and one season’s red pears were hitting fifteen feet. If the buckets had not been “nailed down,” they would have toppled all the time..” Thank you schmoozelfleugen.

Here are a couple of tomato varsities that I have grown in containers with good results.
Tomato Growers Read all about many popular Hybrid and Heirloom tomato’s. Then place your order from the seed seller of your choice.
Brandywine Red from Chester County, Pennsylvania, where it originated in 1885. It produces medium sized, 8 to 12 oz. round, smooth red fruit that are juicy and loaded with intense tomato flavor. Expect high yields of this very flavorful tomato. Indeterminate. 78 days.

Porter, Improved Porter and Ported Cherry tomato’s stand up well to the dry summer air and heat of the South and Southwest USA.

Porter’s Pride Also known as Improved Porter. Medium sized (3 oz.) fruits are larger, rounder and bright red. Smooth, meaty and quite flavorful, these tomatoes have excellent keeping quality due to their firmness. Green fruit picked before frost can be stored for later use. Indeterminate. 70 days.

Porter Developed by a Texas seedsman. Pink fruited variety produces well in high temperatures. Egg shaped fruit weighs about 1 oz. and has delicious taste for canning, juice or fresh eating. Indeterminate. 78 days.

Peron The company that introduced this South American tomato claims it is so pest resistant that it never needs spraying. The 8 oz., good flavored red fruit are higher in Vitamin C than other tomatoes. Indeterminate. 68 days.

Health Kick VFFA Hybrid Named appropriately, this variety has fruit with 50% more lycopene than other common tomatoes. Lycopene is an antioxidant that is proving helpful in preventing cancers and other diseases. Plum shaped tomatoes are extra large 4 to 6 oz. making them excellent to use in salads or in cooking. They are resistance to tomato spotted wilt virus and bacterial speck. Plants become about 4 feet tall and bear abundantly. Determinate. 74 days.

Not from the U.S.A. Leave a comment telling us about your home town and country

Why is common sense so uncommon?
Don’t be Shy. Leave me your comment(s)


11 responses to “Tomato’s In A Bucket!

  1. thatoldschoolgirl

    When I lived in an apartment I used green garbage containers for tomatoes on the balcony. It was heavy enough so that the wind was not an issue and still light enough to bring into the apartment if a wind storm was coming.


    • Re: thatoldschoolgirl – For the good or bad of it, I seem to have a bigger problem with my dogs knocking over things when they get to running and playing than with the wind blowing things over.
      Happy gardening


  2. Hi, this is Sandra from the Netherlands.
    Thanks for this most helpful post. I will certainly try to grow tomatoes in containers this year.


  3. By the way, I forgot to mention that a neighbor and I did a little experiment last year on our tomatoes. We were having lots of trouble with grasshoppers. She suggested that the powder you buy to kill them is mostly flour, so we simply sprinkle all-purpose flour on our plants. It worked so well, I also used it on my beans. Seems they can’t get a foothold to stand and eat.


  4. This year for the first time I am considering growing in elevated beds. I was told that the container needs to be at least a foot deep. I’m thinking that wouldn’t be enough room for the roots but as I said I’ve never used containers before. What do you think? I had a pepper plant that had a four foot root when I pulled it up. Will the root just adjust to the lesser soil?


    • Re: jsnapp62 – Thanks for the visit – Few garden plants develop large deep root systems. Many raised bed gardens are constructed from 2×6 (1 1/2 X 5 1/5 actual size) lumber. That allows for about 5 inches of soil. The secret is to provide a rich well draining soil, watch your plants closely water when your soil starts to dry out and keep your plants well fertilized using fertilizer recommended for the type plants you are growing. 12X12 inch pots work well for almost any vegetable, (1 plant) per pot.
      Happy productive Pot (not that kind of pot) growing.


  5. This was really interesting. I have been growing tomatoes for nearly 35 years and never realized the information about temperature. Thanks for the useful posts that you continue to have.


  6. I grow all of my tomatoes in buckets or other containers, with much success. The best advice I can give is, make sure the containers are well staked..not just the plants, but the buckets themselves, if you’re growing indeterminate plants! My indeterminate plants regularly get to eight or ten feet tall, and one season’s red pears were hitting fifteen feet. If the buckets had not been “nailed down,” they would have toppled all the time..


    • Thanks for the reminder. I added a helpful hint to my posting to include this important tid bit of information.


      • Thanks! I’ll go back and read it again. It really is a great post, and I hope it will get more people growing container vegetables, which is a great way to do things when there are space constraints. Hehehe..especially when there are no discipline constraints! Last summer, I cut BACK in my garden, to twelve varieties of tomatoes, among forty plants, all in containers and one raised bed.


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