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General discussion regarding the techniques and methods used to successfully grow tomato plants in containers.

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Old July 23, 2016   #1
nniemiec
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Default Minimum size container? Are (5) gal. buckets too small?

There's been discussion in the past about what experienced growers believe to be the "minimum" size container for growing toms.

Currently I have (2) plants per 18 gal. tote, however, the totes are aging & I'm looking to rebuild for next year. Can I do well w. (5) gal. buckets or do I really need at least 10 gal. per plant? what is the min. size for maximizing yield in a container?

Thanks in advance for sharing your expertise.
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Old July 23, 2016   #2
heirloomtomaguy
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If by 5 gallon buckets you mean 5 liquid gallons like a home depot bucket then yes that size is more than sufficient. If they are 5 gallon nursery pots they will still work but you will have to keep up on your fertilization. I use the 5 gallon nursery pots and do just fine. Depending on variety you may need more or less area for roots to grow.
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Old July 23, 2016   #3
nniemiec
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Thank you Heriloomtomaguy --- seems like 5 gal construction buckets is the way to go --- I cannot help but think that \ I have (2) plants in an (18) gal tote that they manage to fight for space, (some leaf curl on certain varieties - cherokee purple) despite the total volume >5 gal. per plant.
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Old July 23, 2016   #4
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Well, it also depends on what you're a growing. I think 5 gal. is a little small for a baobab tree.



But it's overkill for a dwarf tom.

The thing is, most plants will limit their size to the available root ball. So 5 gal. will do. But if you want BIG plants then you have to give them a LOT of dirt.
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Old July 23, 2016   #5
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This is my first year growing tomatoes in 5 gallon buckets, and they are HUGE. Started each bucket with 1 cup dolomite lime, 2 cups Plant-Tone (thanks, Worth!) and one cup Biotone starter fertilizer. I used the 5 gal. white buckets sold at Tractor Supply (white because I wanted to keep roots cool/er.) My planting mix consisted of 50% Garden Magic Compost/Manure (mostly peat with bird manure, I think), 25% perlite, 25% pine bark nuggets (small chips) from Home Depot. Tomatoes are pumping out full-size, but still green. I have to water every day, but it's working great!

Full disclosure: my in-ground tomatoes each got 1/3 bag Garden Magic Compost/Manure, 1 cup dolomite, 2 cups Plant Tone, 1 cup Biotone. They are growing larger and more productive than the ones in buckets, but what the heck, the buckets are doing great! First full-size tomato to ripen was Brandywine Sudduth of all things. That's supposed to be one of my latest varieties...go figure. It was tasty, too.

I grew eggplant last year in 5 gallon buckets, also. They did far better than I'd ever had luck with growing in ground. This year, I used the same mix as above, my plants are 4 ft. high and have been harvesting eggplant for 4 weeks now. I used the dark blue buckets from Lowes since they seem to love having hot bottoms. I can vouch for that given their size, and everything seems to thrive on the Plant Tone. I have given a couple of intermittent feedings of Texas Tomato food to everything, but not sure that was needed.

I am growing a large variety of peppers in 3.8 gal. black nursery containers, with same mix as above, and they too are happy and super-productive. The peppers, too, seem to like the containers much better than in-ground.

Hope this helps.
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Old July 23, 2016   #6
dmforcier
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Quote:
My planting mix consisted of 50% Garden Magic Compost/Manure (mostly peat with bird manure, I think), 25% perlite, 25% pine bark nuggets (small chips)
That seems like a fairly permeable mix so no wonder that it needs watering frequently. Last big toms I grew (San Marzano) were in 5:2:1 bark/MGMC/perlite and they wanted soaking morning and sometime evening -- in 10 (15?) gal pots!

For a first year grower, sounds like you're doing great! Keep it up.
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Old July 23, 2016   #7
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follow-up question ---- do any of you cut holes in the pots for aeration? I've seen some folks doing this, wondering if it's worth it?
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Old July 23, 2016   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nniemiec View Post
follow-up question ---- do any of you cut holes in the pots for aeration? I've seen some folks doing this, wondering if it's worth it?
The only holes I drilled were for drainage. Four 1/2" diameter holes, each placed 1-1 1/2 inches from the bottom of the bucket. I usually run the water till I can see it coming out the holes. Once a day watering even in this recent heat, with daytime temps to 90 degrees. So far, so good.
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Old July 23, 2016   #9
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TC Manhattan - do you have pics to share - I'd value seeing the diff in growth b/t your 5 gal buckets vs. your in-ground production. Thanks for the intel!
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Old July 23, 2016   #10
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The vast majority of my containers are the 5 gallon buckets - everything in them is growing well. My best growth is coming from the recyclable shopping bags in some bus pans with a hole about 1.5 inches up. I have a Pink Brandywine in one, an Ichiban eggplant in one, and for kicks, 2 black beauty eggplant in one, too.

Those plants are the most vigorous out of all of my plants - most productive eggplant, too.
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Old July 24, 2016   #11
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the buckets i use from menards are actually 6 gallon liquid,(unless i lost count lol) i put holes in them this year because i went with the rain gutter self watering system, i had just buckets last year sitting in trays and had to water them many times a day, drilling wasn't too bad, as i emptied the buckets and cleaned them as the plants died i only did a few each day or so.then they were ready for this year, here are what they look like now, was gone for 6 days and the cherry tomatoes got a bit out of hand lol, somewhere in this mess are 3 pepper plants that aren't doing to well as far as fruit goes, not enough sun i guess, they are trying to fight their way to the top though.---tom
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Old July 24, 2016   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by encore View Post
the buckets i use from menards are actually 6 gallon liquid,(unless i lost count lol) i put holes in them this year because i went with the rain gutter self watering system, i had just buckets last year sitting in trays and had to water them many times a day, drilling wasn't too bad, as i emptied the buckets and cleaned them as the plants died i only did a few each day or so.then they were ready for this year, here are what they look like now, was gone for 6 days and the cherry tomatoes got a bit out of hand lol, somewhere in this mess are 3 pepper plants that aren't doing to well as far as fruit goes, not enough sun i guess, they are trying to fight their way to the top though.---tom
Tom, that is a sexy setup. Nice.
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Old July 24, 2016   #13
encore
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i've got beefsteak---mountain merit---celebrity---red rose--burpee early girl--- bush early girl--and bielieve it or not, planted in the row behind this one.---tom
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Old July 24, 2016   #14
encore
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bush early girl seeds are getting trashed, two plants and the fruit is red but hard like a rock, taste store bought. just like 2 years ago, should have learned my lesson but had to give them one more chance. lol--tom
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Old July 24, 2016   #15
Gerardo
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RGGs jungle looking great!

5 gal is sufficient.

As stated before, it's not about the volume, more about your consistency in delivering nutrition and hydration.

If you feel like experimenting, place a few rootpots in a kiddie pool or some other container that allows them to have their feet wet 24/7. Cucumbers, tomatoes, and some peppers love it.
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