Growing Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) In Pots and Buckets

growing tomatoes in pots

With space at a premium in most city apartments, the alternative of growing tomatoes in pots for the keen garden, is an attractive solution.

Apart from the satisfaction  that comes with growing your own vegetables, no matter what they are; there are social and economic benefits as well to growing your own tomatoes.

However if not done correctly, that there can be problems associated with growing tomatoes in pots. Mainly due to the fact that a tomato plants needs a lot of water on a consistent basis, or it can lead to all sorts of problems.

Too wet and the roots can rot away. To dry and the plants will wilt or not produce a great crop of tomatoes. This can be an issue with all kinds of container gardening and not just applicable to growing tomatoes.

The problem although it may seem dramatic, is not really all that bad. Just set up a constant watering regime, preferably twice per day when the plants are fruiting.

Feeding is also of major importance, if you want to ensure a good crop of tomatoes. This needs only be done once or twice per week, especially in the height of the growing season, and again on a regular basis to get the best results.

growing great tomatoes

An excellent natural feed for fruiting plants such as tomatoes is comfry ‘tea’. Simply add a big bunch of comfry into a large pail of water.

Let it brew for a couple of weeks then add about 2 inches into the bottom of your watering can before filling with water. Apply this mix twice per week as the plant develops tomatoes.

Another good feed for tomatoes is a horse manure slurry. Yes it does sound gross – but I’ve had great results from this simple plant food. This is simply manure mixed with water in a ten gallon drum. Feed the plants just twice per week with this slurry for good results. Check out this pageOpens in a new tab. for many other natural plant food sources that you can make for free.

Another thing that I would add, is that it is important you pick the right variety of tomato plant to grow in pots. For instance it should preferably be one of the determinateOpens in a new tab. or bush tomato plants, otherwise the whole lot will topple over as it gets top-heavy, or caught in the wind.

What Size of Pot For Tomato Plant

If you do choose a vine tomato plant then you have to ensure that it is secured to a wall or framework, and so held up firmly.

It must also be in a large enough container to supply the plant with nutrients. A 5 gallon pail is approximately the right size of pot or bucket to use for a vine or indeterminate tomato plant to thrive in.

Plant your young toms just Just 1 plant per bucket, otherwise they will get root bound in no time at all, and be sure that they have a strong cane to grow up against.

Pinching Out Tomato Side Shoots

An ongoing almost daily task with cordon tomatoes is to pinch out the side shoots. If this is not done regularly then the vine tomato will soon turn into an unmanageable bush, and your tomato yield will be badly affected.

Fortunately this is an easy task. Just nip away the shoots that sprout between the stem and the leaves before they form any substance. Be aware that they grow at a tremendous rate and can soon reach several inches long if not nipped out.

Use either your own sharp nails to do this or a sharp blade. Be careful that you do not tear the main stem in the process!

Can You Grow Tomatoes In Raised Beds

Absolutely! I grow tomatoes every year in Raised beds only 6″ deep – as you will see in the pictures. What’s more, I have produced several 2lb toms just in this shallow bed – despite what some will advise.

The ‘secret’ is in the feed and a good compost mixOpens in a new tab. in the raised bed. I feed my Toms once a week soon after the first flowers appear. Then twice a week thereafter when the fruits are growing, with a ‘tea’ made from the russian comfry plant. Full of potassium, nitrogen and other minerals that tomatoes need to prosper. You can see the recipe hereOpens in a new tab..

Support can be awkward in shallow beds such as these, but I solved that particular problem by tying the top of the supporting canes to strong wire running the length of the polytunnel.

Growing Tomatoes on AmazonOpens in a new tab.


Best Selling author of several no-dig gardening books, James has over 40 years of gardening knowledge and experience to share with like-minded gardening enthusiasts.

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