Garden In A Bucket: How To Grow Tomatoes In Buckets

Gardeners have been growing tomatoes in containers for a long time. But what about buckets? Can tomatoes grow in buckets? After all, they’re cheap, lightweight and can come in big sizes – all the right reasons to get planting in them! How to grow tomatoes in buckets and are there any special tips to make the harvest plentiful and flavorful? 

Keep reading and you’ll learn all about growing tomatoes in a bucket. 

Why Grow Tomatoes In Buckets

So are there any tangible benefits of growing tomatoes in buckets over backyard gardening? And are buckets a preferable choice over the regular pots? Here are the major benefits you can expect when growing tomatoes in buckets:

  • You don’t have a huge backyard to grow food for the family? No worries. That’s what buckets are for – your personal little garden wherever you want it to be!
  • Growing tomatoes in buckets saves you from plenty of nuisance associated with backyard gardening. Aphids, cutworms and hornworms will be much less likely to attack your bucket tomato plants. 
  • Don’t forget the soil! While you can perfect your plants’ nutrient supply with the best organic potting soil in a bucket, it’s not too easy to do so when growing in the garden. Soil-borne diseases are also less common in bucket growing tomatoes.
  • Buckets are cheap! You can get multiple 5-gallon buckets at minimal prices to build a reasonably sized garden to cater to the family’s requirements. 
  • They’re lightweight and portable. If your tomatoes aren’t getting enough sun at a spot you chose initially, simply lift the bucket and carry it to a suitable spot. In contrast, imagine digging up a tomato garden and replanting it elsewhere! It’s a risky job; some plants might not even survive the transfer. 

What Size Bucket Do You Need?

Make sure that the bucket you choose is big enough to carry the plant’s roots. Rootbound tomato plants won’t produce a great harvest. A 12-inch depth is ideal for most tomato varieties. The usual 5-gallon buckets work best for them. They are just the right diameter and depth for growing a single tomato plant. 

How Many Tomato Plants Per Bucket?

Crowding too many tomatoes in a single bucket isn’t a wise choice. It will leave them competing for sunlight, space and nutrients, resulting in diminished growth of all plants. Adequate spacing is important if you want to see each plant growing healthy and producing lots of juicy tomatoes. If you have a 5-gallon bucket, cherry or bush tomatoes are the better choice. Sow two to three seeds in the bucket, but thin to a single, healthiest seedling once they’re a few inches tall. 

In short, grow a single cherry tomato plant per 5-gallon bucket. 

If you want to grow a large variety, a single plant should be planted in a 10-gallon bucket. If you’re growing cherry tomatoes, you can grow two plants in the same size. 

Prepare Bucket For Growing Tomatoes

Drainage Holes

Make sure the bucket has drainage holes at the base. If it didn’t come with drainage holes you can drill some. These holes will let out the excess water so your plants won’t have wet feet. A small hole every 3 inches is sufficient to keep your tomato plants comfortable after each watering. Add some gravel to the base before putting in the soil. This will further help with the drainage. 

Soil

Use a good quality potting mix to fill the container. It’s also a good idea to add in some additional organic material to help perfect the soil texture and maintain an adequate nutrient supply. For example, you can add equal amounts of potting soil, perlite, peat moss and compost to create your own special mix.

How Much Soil To Grow Tomatoes In Buckets?

Once you’ve prepared the soil, it’s time to add it to the bucket. Fill it up half to three-quarters of its original capacity using the mix you created. 

Planting Tomatoes In Buckets

If you’re growing from seedlings bought from a nursery, here’s what you do:

  1. Remove the seedlings from the original pot. Be careful not to damage the roots.
  2. Place it at the center of the bucket.
  3. Backfill with more prepared soil, covering the roots and the stem. Only the top 2 to 4 leaves should be exposed above the soil.
  4. Water slowly and deeply until it appears from the drainage holes.

If you’re sowing seeds, plant 2 to 3 seeds, a few inches apart in the bucket filled 3/4th with potting mix. Cover it lightly with an inch of soil.

Supporting Tomatoes In Buckets

Indeterminate tomatoes always need support. Most determinate varieties also do better with some support. It’s best to add a trellis, tomato cage, or stake to the bucket right after you plant the seedling. You might risk damaging the plant’s roots if you add the support later. 

Is The Yield Higher In Buckets?

Your tomato plants won’t know whether they’re growing in pots, buckets or ground. They only care about their requirements. As long as you give them what they need, they’ll repay with a bumper crop. You can have a high yield in buckets if you choose the correct size, use good quality soil and give your plants plenty of sunlight, along with adequate water and fertilizers. 

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