tomatoes in 5 gal. buckets

ezzirah011(7a)January 19, 2011

This year I had planned on planting my tomato plants in 5 gallon buckets, however, I had someone I work with tell me that 5 gallon buckets would never work for tomatoes and they will not be successful. I plan on putting up some kind of trellis over the indeterminate ones.

My question is this, do 5 gal. buckets work for tomatoes?


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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

you can do tomatoes just fine in those buckets. the size of plant and production will be less. Last year I did 2, one cherry type and one slicer. I dont remember the exact types but they were both listed and suitable for containers. I didnt take the best of care for them and I still managed to get a decent amount. Be sure you use a soiless mix to avoid compaction and root rot.

good luck

    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 10:38AM
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Yes, you can grow them in 5 gallon buckets but they will required a little more TLC in terms of replacing nutrients (which I didn't know last summer) and much more frequent watering during the extreme heat of summer. Maybe look at growing determinates or compact varieties such as New Big Dwarf so they won't revolt and pitch a fit in their less than spacious environment. I'm using 5 gallons again this year but plan to experiment with peppers this time instead of tomatoes.

I'm sure the more life-long gardeners will jump in very soon with helpful info and how-to's.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 4:12PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

The bigger the container, the less work in my opinion.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 5:17PM
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Hey Ezzirah, about 25 years ago I lived in Edmond and I had 2 greenhouses. One for starting seeds and a larger one for citrus and tropicals. One year I grew 37 varieties of tomatoes in 5 gal. buckets. Everything from Big Boy to Abe Lincoln. I put T post down each side and strung wire down the post. I used a soil less(is that one word) mix in the buckets and fertilized with osmocote. They grew beautifully and the only problem I had was getting home from work in time to water them before they wilted irretrievably. Also. something to think about, you can't go anywhere for even a day without having someone set up to water them or they will die.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 5:18PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


You can grow tomatoes in 5-gallon buckets. I do it almost every year. However, you have better plant growth and better production if you stick to determinates or to varieties that produce bite-sized varieties.

For varieties that produce larger tomatoes or for indeterminate varieties, you can put them in 7-10 gallon containers and get marginally better results, but if you want to grow indeterminates and you want them to grow and yield as well in a container as they do when planted in the ground, you need containers that hold a minimum of 18-20 gallons of a high-quality soil-less potting mix.

I wouldn't try to grow any type of paste-type tomato in containers until I had managed to successfully raise normal slicers and bite-sized types in containers, because Roma types are prone to Blossom End Rot. A major contributor to Blossom-End Rot is uneven watering, and uneven watering is a common issue when growing in containers.

Understand that if you are growing tomato plants in 5-gallon pots, even with small, determinate varieties, you may have to water 2 to 3 times a day in the summer months. Going on vacation for a week or even a weekend is out of the question unless you have a perfectly reliable person who will come and water your 5-gallon plants 2 or 3 times a day. One way around that would be to set them up on a drip irrigation system set on a timer, but even with that, someone needs to come by and check daily to make sure the drip irrigation system has not malfunctioned.

With the heavy watering required of small containers (for most tomatoes, 5-gallon containers are indeed small containers and not large ones), you will have nutrients leaching out of the soil virtually every time you water, so you have to fertilize regularly and really pay attention to soil fertility.

Do you have specific varieties you want to grow in 5-gallon buckets? If so, if you'll list them, I'll tell you if I've grown any of those in a 5-gallon bucket and how it performed for me.

I have grown New Big Dwarf in a 5-gallon bucket and it did OK. I planted it into the container in late February from seed sown in early January and carried it out onto the porch during warm days and into the house on cool nights, as its "reason for existence" that year was to give me early tomatoes. That particular year, it produced well in April and May and then stalled once the real heat arrived. The next year I planted it in a 7-gallon pot and it performed better, so the next year I moved it up to a 10-gallon pot and it did even better. Keep in mind it only gets 3-4' tall in the best of years. If you plant it in a 20-gallon pot, it grows and produces as well as it does in the ground.

You could plant some very small dwarf types like Bush Early Girl or Better Bush in 5-gallon containers, but they'll stay smaller than they would in the ground and probably produce less fruit per plant. Ildi is an indeterminate yellow grape type that has produced heavily for me in a 5-gallon bucket (last year, in fact) but it only reaches about half the size it would if grown in the ground and therefore it produces a much smaller overall harvest. Mountain Princess is a red-fruited heirloom that has produced well in a 5-gallon bucket. Most varieties, though, do not produce as well as I expect you'll want them to. In a 5-gallon bucket, heir root system is too constricted and they get too dry on hot days and you will find that limits their growth and production.

I have had some luck with cutting the bottoms out of the buckets before filling them and transplanting plants into them and then letting the roots go down into the ground beneath the bucket, but that only works well if you've cleared away the grass and weeds from the ground beneath and surrounding the buckets.

For me, peppers grow much better in 5-gallon buckets than tomatoes do, so that's what is going in a lot of my 5-gallon buckets this year. I had amazing pepper harvests from all kinds of peppers in 5-gallon buckets last year. Several tomato varieties that grow well for me in 5-gallon buckets include Tumbling Tom Red, Tumbling Tom Yellow, Red Robin, Orange Pixie and Yellow Canary. All of them are small plants....very small they produce just fine in 5-gallon buckets.


    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 5:52PM
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Of the five varieties you listed in the last paragraph above, which ones do you find taste the best? I know that's a very subjective thing. The reason I ask is my experience growing Red Robin. It was.. well...just okay. It would have probably rated higher if it had been the only variety I grew but other than it having that homegrown taste, it just didn't impress us enough to secure a spot this year. I'm still wanting to grow very small size varieties to tuck into small spaces and was curious about your thoughts on the others listed.

Thanks as always,

    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 7:38PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Total honesty? They all taste about the same to me....just so-so. But when DS takes them to work at the fire station, his co-workers love them. (I don't think any of them grow their own tomatoes, so they love anything I send them, and they especially enjoyed the tumbling tom types last year.)

For someone who grows a lot of tomatoes and is used to those with superior flavors, these wouldn't be anything special although they still are better than anything found in a grocery store. I grow them merely to have early toms for DS and sometimes DH to take to work to share.

The really great tomatoes? They stay home with us. I hope none of DS's or DH's coworkers read this or they'll think I'm a big meanie.

Since none of these varieties take up a lot of space, I'm growing a lot of them in containers (at least they look really nice) so he'll have a lot to take to the fire station in late spring and early summer.

Oddly, the tumbling toms also were the faves of the grasshoppers.

It likely will be a cold day in you-know-where before I'll ever send a True Black Brandywine, Black Cherry, Sungold, or New Big Dwarf tomato to work with DS. Some tomatoes are too good to give away.


    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 8:10PM
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Well, darn. I was afraid that was going to be the case. Glad I asked. (sigh) The search continues.....

Muchas gracias amiga mia!

    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 9:19PM
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Well, that kind of decided it for me, thanks Dawn and everyone. I will put some peppers in the buckets. I didn't do to well with peppers or tomatoes last year, so hopefully this year will be better. (last year all the sporadic downfalls of rain gave me blossom end rot, and the peppers, well they stayed stubby and never produced that much fruit. Could have been a watering issue and location issue. We will see this year...


    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 6:37AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Lynn, Last year, DH's and DS's coworkers drove them nuts begging for tomatoes, and I wanted to keep all my tomatoes to eat fresh, dehydrate, and for salsa and sauce. So, this year, I planted a lot more hybrids to go along with my heirlooms. Most of the heirlooms will stay home with us and be consumed forums. When I send tomatoes to work with the guys, they likely will be hybrid types with a few heirlooms thrown in now and then to keep it interesting. There's definitely a difference in the ones I grow for us and the ones I grow to give away.

I even am thinking of growing Super Boy this year. The last time I grew it, it produced probably hundreds of tomatoes per plant, but they had only average flavor. It was a very rainy year though, and the rain does dilute the flavor. However, people who don't grow tomatoes think that home-grown "average" tomatoes are wonderful. When I grew Super Boy before, I gave away Wal-Mart bags full of them weekly and everyone who received them just loved them. Meanwhile, at our house we were eating Brandywine, Black Krim, etc. So, now you know....I can be generous with the typical hybrid fruit, but I hoard the great-tasting heirlooms.

It is only tomato maniacs like all of us who continually search for varieties with only the most wonderful flavor!

Ezzirah, I tried for years to make 5-gallon buckets work with any and every variety and it took me a while to give up on that and start sizing up the containers.

This year should be better. Last year was a really tough weather year for pepper and tomato production, especially in any area that had excessively high humidity/heat index numbers and drought.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 6:58AM
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I've grown all my tomatoes and peppers in 5 gallon buckets for over 20 years, but not in the container sense. I cut the bottoms out of the buckets then bury them in the garden with the top third (4-5") above grade, this makes it very easy to give each plant a gallon of water when needed with no runoff whatsoever and no wasting water watering a whole row. The only downfall I have with this system is if we get flooding rains, then water will stand in the buckets. A long screwdriver can be used to poke drainage inside the buckets and a sharpshooter between the buckets helps remove standing water. The great benefit is no wasted water and only having to water every 3-4 days in the hottest part of the summer. I usually only water if the tomatoes are droopy and wilted looking in the morning not in the afternoon.

This photo is Better Boys taken July 14, 2007


    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 4:52PM
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OH, that's a good idea Keith! I do have one question, did you fill the buckets up in the inside with a potting soil, or did you just use the dirt created by digging the hole?

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 4:59PM
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Everytime I try to grow tomatoes in 5 gal. buckets I end up frustrated and remind myself why I cursed them the years previous. " Oh yeah I have to practically babysit them with the water."
I try to buy as few gardening products as I can get away with. When we had the restaurant I brought home dozens of 5 gal. buckets (that still smelled like dill pickles!) and had grandiose plans to grow hundreds of tomatoes in them along with our in-ground garden. After 2 years of that, I'm down to a couple buckets now that I use for hauling compost across the yard. In 2002 I planted a lone Yellow Pear tomato in a 5 gal. bucket. At the end of September I had about 4 little tomatoes to show for my efforts. I was simply that unaware of how much pampering the container plant required.
I do use them to put potting soil and compost in before I dump boiling water on them to kill weed seeds.
Other than general garden practicality, I would recommend no less than a 7-10 gal. bucket for tomatoes, and ideally the tomato would be determinate. 2 cents there.

Dale, OKC

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 5:30PM
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did you fill the buckets up in the inside with a potting soil, or did you just use the dirt created by digging the hole?

That's just the regular garden soil that has been heavily amended with grass clippings and shredded leaves over the last 30 years.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 8:56AM
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Now that I've been thru one gardening season growing tomatos, I have to say that my tomatos did all right last year. But, I am retired and I love to traipse thru the garden every single day. Traipse thru does not mean that I watered my tomatos every day, or did much of anything to them. I would trim them up every now and then - the dead parts. I just kept thinking they were going to die any day, but no, they didn't. So they got minimal care other than just monitoring them, picking off the little beet armyworms and the hornworms (that got moved to the Datura) and the corn earworms when I found them.

My best producing tomato was a Rutgers. I thought it was the determinate variety but I had lost the tag so I couldn't verify. It turned out to be the Rutgers indet. I just knew that it wasn't going to do anything since it was in that small container. I didn't water it everyday in the heat of the summer, sometimes every other day, sometimes every 2 days. It just kept growing and growing, and producing and producing. I don't know how much I harvested, but a good enough number for just me. And, in the fall, I took in tons of green tomatoes that ripened on the counter over the next days to weeks to months.

Now the tomatos were smaller, probably around 4 oz was the largest, but hey, size isn't everything, and it produced in a year when I thought it would surely die, especially being ill-suited for that 5 gal. container. But, it proved you can grow tomatos in a smaller container than that which they should be grown in. Nevertheless, I am using larger containers this year for my indeterminates - from 20 to 30 gallons. That's still probably going to be less than ideal for them, but at least I know I can get a harvest from them.

I did fertilizer with Tomato Tone, but not religiously. Will try to be more attentive to that also this summer.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 9:38PM
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We have a small firepit with a sand bottom on our patio (south side of the house). Last summer I filled the firepit with 3-5 gallon pots and 5 gal buckets - peppers and tomatoes and a pot of basils and sage. They did great - the pit is about 18" deep so they had a little bit of windblock and with them clustered together they didn't dry out as much. If one plant died or developed problems I took that pot out and replaced it with another. I called it my "pizza pit" - had many favorable comments. I had Tumbler, Bush Champion, and Patio tomatoes - Marconi and Sweet Pickle Peppers, and a Jalapeno and Chili Pepper. I used a light potting mix and kept the plants fed weekly. I plan to do the same thing this year.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 10:42PM
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I just found 18 gallon black tubs with rope handles at WalMart on clearance for $4 each. I bought all 5 that they had.

How many holes should I drill in the bottom?

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 9:01PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

When we drill drainage holes in the bottom of a container, we just drill dime to nickle sized holes all over the bottom of a container scattered every few inches apart.

If you're worried too much soil will wash out, you can cut burlap or landscape fabric mulch cloth into a round piece just slightly smaller than your container, and use it to line the bottom of the inside of the container.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 9:42PM
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one of the issues I was hoping to avoid with the buckets was the blossom end rot from the un-even rain we got last year. Is there a way to avoid this should we get that kind of rain again?


    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 6:18AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


BER is also an issue with tomato plants grown in containers and sometimes more of an in issue in containers than when the plants are grown in the ground. The reason is that by their very nature, containers restrict the growth of the root systems. Restricted root systems will have less uptake of water/nutrients, and this can contribute to BER.

There probably are a few things you can do to try to combat BER, but since we are dealing with plants that are "living beings", we can only control so much.

First of all, whenever faced with making decisions about container size, bigger is always better than smaller.

Secondly, it is very important to use soil-less container potting mixes in the containers because good drainage is imperative. However, most soil-less mixes lean towards being acidic, so I throw in a handful of lime into the mix and mix it in well before planting.

Third, aim for balanced plant growth, so if using a fertilizer, use a balanced one with NPK numbers like 10-10-10 or 13-13-13 or whatever. One reason you'll see BER is that the topgrowth of the plants can be stimulated through the use of high nitrogen fertilizers, and then the plants' roots and vascular system struggle to support such heavy growth. A balanced fertilizer will ensure at both your root system and topgrowth are growing at a more consistent rate so that the root system is able to adequately supply water and nutrients to the vegetative and fruiting parts of the plant.

Fourth, aim for maintaining really consistent moisture levels. The last thing you want is for the plants to cycle from being too wet to too dry. You want their moisture to be steady and consistent. The best way I have found to achieve this is with a drip irrigation kit set up on an automatic timer. Small drip irrigation kits are available at places like Lowe's, Home Depot, Wal-Mart etc. during the growing season. The first one I bought cost less than $20 about 7 or 8 years ago, and it took us about 5 minutes to hook it up to 10 plants. It is really simple. The watering timer was purchased separately in the water hose section.

Finally, avoid an tomato variety or type known to be prone to BER. Roma or paste types are particularly prone to BER, so I am very careful with them in containers. Although in general, I prefer early to early mid-season plants in containers, in the case of Roma/past types, I like to put those with long DTMs of 80 or more in containers. That way, the Roma/paste type plants have time to develop a larger and more mature root system before the plants begin bearing heavy loads of fruit.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 12:55PM
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Ugh! So that's why my paste tomatoes didn't do well at all last year. I elected to grow them all in containers (can't remember my logic as to why now) but they suffered from either BER or next to no production at all.

Another gardening mystery solved!


    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 2:00PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Well, Lynn, sometimes paste types are prone to BER in the ground too, so I don't know if you would have had better results with plants in the ground last year.

BER in the paste types is perplexing. Sometimes I see a lot of it, sometimes none. I've tried to correlate the type of weather to how much BER I do or don't see, and I'm not even sure I see a correlation there.

Logic would tell you I'd see more BER in hot, dry years when it is hard to get enough water to all the plants but that's not necessarily "always" the case.

I think some mysteries are determined to remain mysteries, and the mystery of BER may be one of them.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 4:22PM
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The only place I ever see BER is on paste tomatoes, in containers, and it is normally the first tomatoes on the plant. After that they do OK.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 4:58PM
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How often and how long do you run your drip system for tomato 5 gal containers? And what gph emitter do you use? Thanks

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 10:50AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

That's not an easy question to answer in a generic way and here is why.

The amount of water any plant in any container will need is going to vary highly depending on what kind of soil mix you use, how well the mix holds water or how quickly it dries how, and how often you set the timer to come on.

Are you going to water once a day in late May or early June but three times a day in early July? It obviously varies with the weather.

You can't put your system on a timer in May or whenever the regular spring rains stop (if they are falling at all) and just leave it there until frost hits. You have to adjust your watering schedule to match the real-life conditions.

The way I water in a drought year like 2003 when less than 19" of rain fell is very different from how I water in a better year like 2004 or early 2007 when annual rainfall might be in the high 30s or in the 40s in inches, and different still from how I water in a wet year, like 2009 when 52" of rain fell here and I really only had to irrigate intermittently in July and August.

So, I don't really know how to tell you how often to water because I have no knowledge of your soil mix or weather conditions and when setting up any irrigation system, you have to consider not only the soil mix and its ability to hold water (or not), the amount of rainfall you're getting, the temperatures you have but also your humidity.

I have to water a lot more often when it is 100+ degrees outside and the humidity is in the teens or the single digits than I do when the temps are in the 100s but the humidity is in the 40s or 50s. I watch my local pan evaporation rate to get an idea of how quickly evaporation is occurring and if you do that long enough and compare it to what you're seeing with your plant, then you know how quickly your soil moisture is evaporating compared to what the pan evaporation rate shows.

Containers that are more exposed to high winds dry out more quickly than those that are sheltered from high winds, and those that are exposed to full sun dry out more quickly than those that get a half-day of shade.

To set up your system, consider all the variables faced by your plants, and then watch your plants closely. By watching the plants and their color and growth rates, you'll learn how quickly they dry out and that will tell you how long to water and how often to water. It isn't something someone else can tell you because their soil mix might be different from yours and their weather conditions will be different too. Different plants in different places on my property even have different watering needs, even though they're in the same sized containers.

Consider plant size too. A large determinate tomato plant that gets 3' or 4' tall and produces tomtoes that are 12 to 16 oz. each in size will use a lot more moisture in a container than a dwarf plant that gets 12-18" tall and produces 1" cherry type tomatoes. You need to zone plants of similar size/water requirements together so you aren't overwatering the smaller plants or underwatering the larger ones.

Most pots (unless they are really, really small, will need several emitters per pot. Otherwise, the area near the emitter gets good moisture but areas further away don't. You need an emitter every few inches so all the soil gets wet.

The only pots I have that have only one emitter are hanging baskets of flowers on the front porch and I think I get away with only one emitter in them because they are on an east-facing porch and are mostly shaded so they don't dry out quickly.

If you have a soil-less mix that holds moisture well and the plants are somewhat sheltered from excessive sunlight, heat and high wind, you only have to water for a few minutes at a time but how many times a day will vary depending on your weather.

Hope this helps even though it didn't say something like "water them 3 times a day for 10 minutes at this rate". You'll have to figure that one out for yourself because of all the variables involved.

I've linked a website that talks about setting up a drip irrigation system. They have info specific to containers in a paragraph on containers.

Some companies, like Dripworks, will work with you to design a layout for your garden. Even they, though, have no way of knowing what your soil-less mix in containers will be like, how quickly it will or won't dry out,etc. so you have to work with your containers, watch them to see how quickly they dry out and learn from them how much they dry out in different conditions and take it from there.

Finally, be very careful when selecting or mixing up a soil-less potting mix for containers. Our highly variable weather makes it really hard to know what soil mix to use so at planting time you have to look at that year's regular weather pattern and try to choose the soil mix you want to use based on what you're seeing happen with the weather.

The first year I planted a lot in 5-gallon buckets was 2003 (the year we had less than 19" of rain here) and it never, ever rained and I had to water nonstop, having used a general potting soil mix like Miracle Grow potting soil. So, the next year, I used a "Moisture Control" mix thinking it would hold moisture better and I could water less. Guess what happened? In 2004 it rained all the time, (I specifically remember about a foot of rain falling in a 3 week period in late June and early July), my "Moisture Control" soil-less mix stayed much too wet just from rainfall alone, my plants suffered terribly and some of them died. So, the next year, I dumped the Moisture Control soil mix into the veggie garden and mixed it into the ground with all the regular soil. I bet you can guess what happened in 2005? I used a regular soil-less potting mix and we had a drought year with only 23" of rain. My plants would have done better that year with the Moisture Control mix. Nowadays I mix my own soil-less mix and attempt to tailor it to the expected summertime weather conditions, but I don't have ESP so all I'm really doing is guessing. Growing in containers seems like it should be easy, but in our climate, summertime gardening is not easy no matter whether you're growing plants in the ground or in containers.


Here is a link that might be useful: Setting Up A Drip Irrigation System

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 1:31PM
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I would like to share a bit about my experience with growing tomatos and the issue of BER last year. And, believe me, I am a novice when it comes to tomatos, altho I've been growing a lot of everything other than veggies in containers for many years now.

First of all, I followed Dawn's advice on container size, except for the Rutger's referenced in my past response. Other than it, I used a 30 gal. container for the Jet Star (I was NOT impressed with it), a 25 gal. for my Supersweet 100, a 20 gal. for the Black Cherry, and 5 gal. for my Red Currant. Seems like there was another one, but I can't recall right now.

My first 2 tomatos from Jet Star got BER, and the first 1 of the Rutgers had BER. But that was it for the entire season. So, based on that, I can't really say that growing tomatos in containers is a contributing factor to BER. I would contribute it more to the fact that I had not yet figured out how to properly water them. Once I figured out - thru Dawn's advice again - that I needed to use the "hands on" approach to watering - and that is GREAT for first time gardeners - I had no more problems clear up thru November 1st when I plucked all the remaining tomatos from the vines. She told me, very simply, to stick my finger into the soil and if it was dry down to 3 or 4", water them. So, that's what I did. No more BER.

I hate to see folks say they won't grow tomatos in containers ever again because they got BER. I think it may just take some adjusting to watering techniques, and adjusting your watering schedule accordingly. I grew some mighty fine tomatos in containers last year, and it was an extremely difficult year according to the experts. So, as a beginner, I consider last year a successful year and I ate plenty of tomatos.

I just volunteered to participate in the Northern Hemisphere Dwarf Tomato Project (it's your fault I got hooked, Dawn), and Craig is going to send me some seeds to grow out. He is asking for more volunteers, so if anyone wants to participate, email me and I'll give you the info on how to contact him if you don't already know. Mine will be grown in containers, but the growouts are not limited to container growing. They can be grown in the ground, too. Since we have such a "Steve Martin" (wild and crazy) growing season here in Oklahoma, I would encourage your participation in the project, for the reason that the results could be very interesting and informative in regard to growing tomatos in difficult climates, and we get the opportunity to see some of these new dwarfs in advance. I will probably get seeds in about 2 weeks, and believe me, there are some very exciting new hybrids on the forefront in terms of flavor and other characteristics. Dwarfs are generally not known to be the most flavorful tomatos when compared to the indeterminate heirloom/OP varieties, or even the existing "full size" hybrid tomatos. And, dwarf does not necessarily mean a small tomato. Some of them are of impressionable size, up to l lb. One other thing, I cannot share seed of any of the varieties I get. I think that is a stipulation for growing them. They don't want a bunch of little "untrue" hybrids getting away from the project, like Tribbles, or getting out into the public, until they are stabilized and ready for commercial production. I know that happens and while I doubt that would ever happen here, just letting you know ahead of time. Also, we will need to monitor our plants, take notes and report our results, including photos if possible, to the project manager, Craig. I'm sure he will probably give us guidelines to use.

Just a note: Craig has sent seeds of some of the stabilized varities to a few tomato seed companies for sale this year. I know, too late for catalogs. But, they should be posted on the companies' websites but there will be a limited number available since this is just the beginning. If anyone sees that seeds are available from him or from the NHDTP, I'd appreciate if you could let me know. I'll be keeping an eye out, too, but I have no idea what companies got the seed, so it may be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Thanks!


    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 3:30PM
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Thanks for the info. Actually I have been growing toms in containers for several yrs but never gave a thought to how much I watered at a given time. If it was near dry I just stuck the hose in and watered. It's different now that I am considering a drip system since I have to order online the exact emitters etc.

I guess I will probably buy the emitters that are adjustable from 0 to 10 gph. I have different things growing in different sized containers so I will probably spend more time adjusting the emitter flow than I did watering with the hose. In fact I will probably use the hose in the spring until it gets hot. it seems it woul be too tricky trying to use a drip system when the roots haven't developed yet.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 2:20PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I don't usually use the drip on a timer until the heat arrives in June. I just turn it on/off manually or water by hand-held hose if I'm not too busy to stand there with a hose in my hand. By the time the real arrives, the plants are good-sized and there's really no danger of keeping them too wet because the plants and their root systems are strong, vigorous and thirsty.

It is so hard to plan in advance what to do when our weather is highly variable.

Watering is more of an art than a science in outdoor conditions where you have no control over all the various factors.

I have found the same issue arises with folks who put in a sprinkler system to water their lawn and ornamental plants. Everyone wants to be given a formula like "water three times a week for 20 minutes each time" or something similar, but since soil permeability and capacity to hold water and other factors vary so much even within a fairly small area, formulas like that just don't work. Everyone has to figure out what works for them in their soil, their prevailing winds, their sun exposure, etc.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 6:35PM
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I didn't take time to read every post so if someone mentioned the relationship between calcium and BER, sorry for the repeat. I don't even remember now where I read about it, but it may have been Organic Gardening magazine, back at least 30 years ago. Anyway, the lime that Dawn mentioned adding to containers contains calcium and may have helped prevent Blossom End Rot. We burn with wood and wood ashes are also rich in calcium, so if I see BER on a tomato early in the season, in addition to regulating the water, I sprinkle some around the plant--not too close or too heavy. Ashes are caustic. Agricultural lime is safer, being inert.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2011 at 3:26PM
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I use SIP containers to grow tomatoes in 5 gal buckets. See link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Global Buckets

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 9:48AM
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I remember in a post last year, we discussed the causes of BER, and I believe that Dawn replied that it has more to do with a watering issue than calcium, altho it may play a minor part in it, too. I had BER on my first 2 tomatoes from different plants, and once I adjusted the watering, they were fine. I use Espoma's Tomato Tone fertilizer and it has calcium in it. I had thought about using eggshells, but I think someone told me that they do not break down to become readily available to the plant.

Or, it could have had nothin to do with the watering at the time, in that I've heard a lot of folks say that the first tomatos that develop on a plant are more susceptible to BER and the subsequent fruits usually are devoid of BER. So, because it was just the first tomato on each of my 2 plants, it could have had something to do with my watering, or it could have just been a "hey, girl, take a back seat and see what develops....or doesn't". Sometimes it's just a matter of patience - of which I, admittedly have little to none.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 8:42PM
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