Tomatoes: Container gardening with tomatoes

Mobile, AL(Zone 8b)

Due to a soil fungus, If I want tomtoes this year I have to resort to container gardening. Since I can't face a year without tomatos I plan to plant in 5 gallon buckets. I need to order seeds soon, I usually put them in around the end of December or the first week in January. Any suggestions about what does well in a 5 gallon bucket? I'd like to try two or three varieties

Orlando, FL(Zone 9b)

You should check out Gardens Alive! ( before you give up on planting your tomatoes in the ground. This company sells earth-friendly products that should take care of the fungus, whether it's on the leaves or in the soil. I have had good luck with their stuff and I don't worry about the effects on myself or the environment when using it. I use their Soilguard product along with a copper fungicide to control fungal diseases like blight and damping off disease. They have product information on-line to help you find the right product for your problem, and the sales people were very knowledgable, too. As to varieties of tomatoes...the most successful varieties I have had here in FL are Celebrity, Sunmaster, and Floramerica. I usually keep a couple in 3 gallon pots and plant the rest in the garden. Yields are much better in the ground than in the pots. Happy gardening to you :)

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

We used 5 gallon buckets when we first started messing around with tomatoes indoors. Put 2 plants to a bucket. Any variety works. The secret is water & fertilizer. Some kind of drip tube into each pot works best. They take awful lot of water once they start producing. When we went to planting in the ground in the greenhouse, we used drip tape.
After plants were about 5 feet tall we never turned it off!
Under plastic greenhouse tomatoes never get blight. Have planted in same holes 4 years in a row. I am not sure how long they would live. We usually turn the heat off in November because it takes to much fuel, the plants are still growing then. I think tomatoes are perennial in a warmer zone.

Mobile, AL(Zone 8b)

Thanks Butterfly
I will check out that website. I've had other gardeners tell me I will have to let the soil lie fallow for at least one year maybe two.
Bernie - thanks for the watering info. I knew they would take alot of water but I never thought of a drip tube. Appreciate the tip. I'm always glad to hear from someone that "done it before"

Orlando, FL(Zone 9b)

What's the rationale behind leaving the garden fallow for a year or two? Is it to provide sufficient time for the disease to disappear? I haven't heard of anything like this before. Perhaps that's what I need to do with mine, too. I've been fighting blight for a couple of years. Soilguard works, but you are supposed to reapply every 2 months. I usually forget or don't get around to it quickly enough. I usually get a couple of harvests out of the garden and it's enough for me.

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

We have had tomatoes on ground that was regular farmland forever, never saw a tomato before, and the blight still shows up. The best help against blight was one year we had some alfalfa acres & a neighbor made the hay on shares. It was made in those great big stacks. We had one stack. It was a lot of work but we mulched about 3 ft wide & 4 to 5 inchs deep along each row. we had beautiful tomatoes and no blight until very late in the year. Seems if you can keep the rain from splashing the dirt up on the plant it helps contol the blight.

Mobile, AL(Zone 8b)

Hi Bernie
You're right - the blight I have does come from the dirt splashing up onto the plant stem and leaves. I've been fighting this for the last three years. I did use the method you're talking about, and it worked for a little while. As an extra precaution, I only watered using gallon milk jugs buried in the mulch next to the plant with tiny holes punched in the bottom. Last year my crop was a complete failure. I know when I'm licked
Thanks for the thought

(Zone 6a)

A lot of the blight causing critters travel in the air. My experience in container gardening with tomatoes a few years ago proved it to me. I used brand new 7 gal. pots and new bags of Shultz Potting Soil. The tomatoes got the blight. I just use ground planting now and lots of fungicide to help control blight....along with mulching.

Chariton, IA(Zone 5b)

Last summer I used the red tomato mulch (plastic) that can be purchased from Gardens Alive. I had no blight on my tomatoes at all. Up until then I've had blight every year. It was a pain to put down. Used the ground staples and the tomato cages to hold it, but once in place, it never moved over the summer. Had more tomatoes than I knew what to do with, finally!!

Mobile, AL(Zone 8b)

Hi Brugie
Thats a thought. I've never used the red garden mulch before. I was looking at GardensAlive's website yesterday. Butterfly had recommended the products there. I think I'll try the stuff they have for early season blight. I might try the mulch too.
Bernie - what did you use on your tomatoes?

Lakeland, FL

I have started growing tomato plants, and they get about 6-8 inches tall, and then they produce about 2-3 small tomatos and then the tomato plant dies. I know they die after they produce, but mine doesn't get that big! And my cousin's get HUGE!


Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

Welcome to DG sassytiger!

I'm not sure what your problem is. Miracle Grow once a week is more than should have plants the size of a small car!

At 6 to 8 inches tall,there shouldn't be any tomatoes set if your plants are growing properly.That is about a 6 week old seedling,and they aren't ready to set blooms at that age.

Tomatoes will grow until killed by frost,and should produce lots of fruit.

How long does it take for you to get these tomatoes to the size you mentioned? Are they watered enough? Do you have them in containers? If so,how big are the containers? A standard size tomato needs a minimum of a 5 gallon container and lots of water.

Where are you located? If you will go to the right hand column and click on the 'preferences' link,you can set your location and zone.This will help us give advice specific to your conditions.

columbia, SC(Zone 8b)

i am a apartment dweller and a single with one teenager so i decided to plant a tomato on my balcony this year. It is doing so well !!!!i have it in a 5 gallon bucket, started it early and protected it early from frost, feed it with miracle grow once a week and its doing fabulous. is blooming well and is green and lucious. was just called tomato 'patio'

Edmonton, AB(Zone 3a)

This is the best year ever for my container tomatoes. Started indoors end of February; transplanted twice and kept indoors (makeshift greenhouse in my home) until end of may. Blossoms aplenty when they went into their final pot and I have already picked some cherry types; but will have the first of the ripe tigerellas by weeks end. Pretty darned early for Alberta home raised. FYI I keep two five gallon pails of water with very diluted miracle grow by the plants so that I can fertilize every time I water and with ambient temp water. Seems to be working.

columbia, SC(Zone 8b)

My container tomatoes are continuing well! When i planted them i submerged over 50% of the plant in the soil[makes a very strong plant?] and i also feed with diluted miracle grow. i have lots of bloom and they are producing fruit this week.They look very strong and healthy

This message was edited Tuesday, Jul 8th 10:08 PM

Las Vegas, NV

guestion: My tomatoe plant has lots of buds that are turning yellow and falling off. the leaves are small and curling also. I've feed the plant with miricale grow and its getting very leggy looking. Any ideas?

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Howdy lvsteve. And a hearty WELCOME TO DG!

Blossom drop tends to happen when the flowers are not pollinated. This can result from temps that are very high and/or temps that are very low.

If your plants are very leggy I'd hold off on the Miracle Gro...most of those formulas tend to have an excessive amount of Nitrogen, creating excessive plant growth. Too much, too fast, and the plant hesitates to produce buds/flowers.

How often are you feeding it? If too much the watering could also be causing the leaf curling. (Lots of reasons for leaf curling though.)

Again...welcome to DG! Hope to see you posting!

Bay City, MI(Zone 6a)

There is another great thread about growing tomatoes on the under side of a hanging pot. Sounds so interesting but alas I have no place to hang one ...yet... here is the link in case your interested.


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