Author Topic: Recommendations for tomato containers  (Read 394 times)

ender

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4689
Recommendations for tomato containers
« on: June 11, 2019, 06:18:26 AM »
We have about 15 tomatoes in ground right now. The last few years they've been hit hard by blight so I want to try some containers.

Has anyone had luck with this? What did you do?

My current thought is:
  • 5-gallon bucket w/ lid
  • Cage into lid for support
  • Potting soil (mix in slow release fertilizer)
  • Drill holes into bottom and a few into sides for air circulation

Seems like it'd be pretty easy and straightforward to both create as well as clean at the end of the season. I'm worried it'd be top heavy eventually though.

Anyone have success with something like this (or other ideas)?

Cranky

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1665
Re: Recommendations for tomato containers
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2019, 07:11:11 AM »
I've used big buckets successfully, but I'm not sure it will solve a blight problem. Drill holes, put in some gravel, use potting soil. I think there's some specifically for vegetables, but I don't know if matters. I've never used a lid on them. I use stakes.

I've also used plastic storage bins.

rockeTree

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 181
Re: Recommendations for tomato containers
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2019, 11:46:44 AM »
Fabric grow bags? Bigger, lower center of gravity, breathable, easy to clean and store. I don’t even use a cage, just a bamboo stake and strips of old t shirts to tie up the plant every eight inches or so.

ender

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4689
Re: Recommendations for tomato containers
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2019, 03:26:47 PM »
I bought a few 5-gallon buckets with lids and drilled holes in them.

Will see how it goes.

fixie

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 52
Re: Recommendations for tomato containers
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2019, 04:19:32 PM »
tomato blight is a fungal infection, so you want to make sure the plant's leaves and stems are able to dry thoroughly after wetting.  When watering, do not wet the foliage.  Separate the plants so they do not touch.  make sure they get full sun.  water in the morning so there is ample time for the soil surface and and leaves to dry out.  allow the soil to dry down at least an inch from the surface before watering again.  This will make sure fungal spores cannot germinate.  Try not to splash water on the soil surface onto the leaves when watering.
If you're going to go with containers, which is a great idea, get some big black nursery pots.  15-20 gallons is best.  5 gallon pots is not enough root space and won't hold water for very long.  The black pots will warm the soil quite a bit, which tomatos love.  Make a soilless mix of peat and perlite(60% by volume or so), a bit of sifted garden soil(say20ish% , and worm castings(about 10-20% worm castings is good).  The mix should have very good drainage.  Also mix in an organic fertilizer such as a seed meal with an analysis of 5-5-5 or so.  Organic fertilizers are naturally slow release and do not cause salt buildup like chemical fertilizers(important in pot culture).  Occasional watering with liquid kelp and fish emulsion will make for very healthy plants(say, every 1.5 weeks at recommended dosage)!
Water your plants until they just start to drain, then stop and water down the line.  Go back to the 1st plant and put in a bit more water and go down the line.  This will make the soil expand and hold a ton more water.
Make sure your fertilizing regimen has a source of calcium and magnesium to avoid blossom end rot and to help resist diseases.
good luck and let us know how it goes!
-fixie
 

bognish

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 289
Re: Recommendations for tomato containers
« Reply #5 on: Today at 12:12:11 AM »
I think this depends on where you live. A 5 gallon bucket in my yard would cook in the sun. Any outside potted plant is going to dry out really fast. That kind of wet to dry cycle is going to give tomatoes blossom end rot. Unless you have tomato varieties meant for containers 5 gallons is going to be too small for the plant by the end of the summer. Unless you really anchor the bucket it is going to be prone to tipping over.

Sloeginfizz

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 79
Re: Recommendations for tomato containers
« Reply #6 on: Today at 06:36:33 AM »
They’re kind of expensive but the best tomato harvest I’ve had used these things to grow. Even better than grown in the ground. In my experience, the five gallon buckets as planters do dry out crazy fast which can stress the plant, but my ‘garden’ is a concrete urban balcony off the side of a high rise. Not the best of conditions.

https://www.gardeners.com/buy/organic-tomato-planter-success-kit/8587289VS.html

ender

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4689
Re: Recommendations for tomato containers
« Reply #7 on: Today at 06:43:15 AM »
They’re kind of expensive but the best tomato harvest I’ve had used these things to grow. Even better than grown in the ground. In my experience, the five gallon buckets as planters do dry out crazy fast which can stress the plant, but my ‘garden’ is a concrete urban balcony off the side of a high rise. Not the best of conditions.

https://www.gardeners.com/buy/organic-tomato-planter-success-kit/8587289VS.html

Well, I have drip irrigation setup and I also have a lid (that I cut a 2 inch hole for the plant to sit in). I guess I'll see if they dry out, I might have to put them on a longer timer than the regular garden timer if they start drying out.

nereo

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 10223
  • Location: la belle province
    • Here's how you can support science today:
Re: Recommendations for tomato containers
« Reply #8 on: Today at 06:57:23 AM »
They’re kind of expensive but the best tomato harvest I’ve had used these things to grow. Even better than grown in the ground. In my experience, the five gallon buckets as planters do dry out crazy fast which can stress the plant, but my ‘garden’ is a concrete urban balcony off the side of a high rise. Not the best of conditions.

https://www.gardeners.com/buy/organic-tomato-planter-success-kit/8587289VS.html

Well, I have drip irrigation setup and I also have a lid (that I cut a 2 inch hole for the plant to sit in). I guess I'll see if they dry out, I might have to put them on a longer timer than the regular garden timer if they start drying out.

Some good advice so far

I'd stress:
  • don't re-use soil that held tomatoes last year - the fungus that causes blight can persist in the dirt
  • I've had good success in 5 gal buckets with smaller varieties. Be careful not to let soil dry out (water daily in hot conditions) and drill plenty of holes int eh bottom for drainage.  I filled mine with 3" of gravel which helped the drainage
  • The plastic buckets that cat litter comes in (35lb pails) work really well too, if you've got a cat or someone who does.
  • keep the leaves dry whenever you can.  Mine were on a porch and I'd bring them in under cover if it was wet outside.  Did require near-daily waterings.
  • Plant them deep. I break off the first set of stems and plant all the way to the second set.  The stem will form roots once underground.
  • Varieties matter when planting in buckets.  I've got a great nursery and I just listen to them as to which will do best in buckets.  Worked great so far.
  • In my current area air temps are frequently in the 70s and dark buckets help keep the soil warm.  When I lived in VA I had the opposite problem (temps in the 90s were common, occasionally 100ºF)) so I used white buckets I could move into the shade during very hot days.  I've seen people wrap them in aluminum foil in very hot climates.  know your climate. 

ender

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4689
Re: Recommendations for tomato containers
« Reply #9 on: Today at 07:00:14 AM »
yep. I bought garden soil too for these, a single bag nearly perfectly filled 4 buckets.

For the tomatoes, I probably planted them 8 inches deep - I always break off a bunch of the bottom leaves/stems... not sure I should break as many as I do, but it seems to work pretty well for us?

I've never thought about putting them under cover. I'm optimistic that they won't get blighted because they are pretty far away from our other tomatoes but who knows. We normally pretty aggressively prune tomatoes, too, so I'm also wondering if that'll help (I suspect the plants are going to be too big. But I'll see I guess).

Rosy

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2000
  • Location: Florida
Re: Recommendations for tomato containers
« Reply #10 on: Today at 07:52:55 AM »
tomato blight is a fungal infection, so you want to make sure the plant's leaves and stems are able to dry thoroughly after wetting.  When watering, do not wet the foliage.  Separate the plants so they do not touch.  make sure they get full sun.  water in the morning so there is ample time for the soil surface and and leaves to dry out.  allow the soil to dry down at least an inch from the surface before watering again.  This will make sure fungal spores cannot germinate.  Try not to splash water on the soil surface onto the leaves when watering.
If you're going to go with containers, which is a great idea, get some big black nursery pots.  15-20 gallons is best.  5 gallon pots is not enough root space and won't hold water for very long.  The black pots will warm the soil quite a bit, which tomatos love.  Make a soilless mix of peat and perlite(60% by volume or so), a bit of sifted garden soil(say20ish% , and worm castings(about 10-20% worm castings is good).  The mix should have very good drainage.  Also mix in an organic fertilizer such as a seed meal with an analysis of 5-5-5 or so.  Organic fertilizers are naturally slow release and do not cause salt buildup like chemical fertilizers(important in pot culture).  Occasional watering with liquid kelp and fish emulsion will make for very healthy plants(say, every 1.5 weeks at recommended dosage)!
Water your plants until they just start to drain, then stop and water down the line.  Go back to the 1st plant and put in a bit more water and go down the line.  This will make the soil expand and hold a ton more water.
Make sure your fertilizing regimen has a source of calcium and magnesium to avoid blossom end rot and to help resist diseases.
good luck and let us know how it goes!
-fixie
 

I have a huge square heavy-duty plastic terra cotta pot that I bought about 15 years ago. Since I garden in Florida the advice has always been to water in the evening - otherwise just like you suggested.
I'm always looking for different ideas on fertilizer. I use moisture potting soil with organic tomato fertilizer and add in fish fertilizer when I think of it. Maybe this fall I'll try some horse manure from the neighbor's stables.

I've come to realize that tomatoes are Prima Donna's in the garden and not really worth all that time and trouble not to mention expense. So now I'm down to two Roma's and one grape tomato as the two best performers. If it were not for the awesome taste and the fact that my homemade tomato sauce is somehow less acidic? I'd even cut back to just the grape tomatoes for Mr. R.'s lunch and the occasional salad.

Ender - the big 15-20 gal thick black nursery pots do work considerably better than a 5-gallon bucket that's for sure. You do need potting soil not garden soil, I tried that one year with disastrous results. 
I don't think container gardening will end your blight problems, if you have good garden soil and improve it with manure each year that is your best option especially if you don't live in a climate like Florida.