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

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Old January 24, 2021   #1
Winemaker
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Default Determinates in 5 Gal buckets

This year along with my Indeterminates in Earthtainers, I want to grow several Determinate varieties in 5 Gal buckets. Because of their smaller bush configuration they lend themselves to Container growing and I can run multiple crops over the season. I saw that Home Depot sells white food grade buckets in a 10 pack for $39 which is about the same single price as the orange ones. I live in the Sacramento area and our summers are really hot so I figured the white buckets would keep the roots a bit cooler.

My question is the drilling of holes in the buckets. Some drill in the bottom and some drill in the sides an inch or 2 up from the bottom.

Others also add torn up disposable diapers for moisture rentention.

I would appreciate some thoughts and comments.
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Old January 24, 2021   #2
Milan HP
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Hello,
I cannot afford to grow them in 5-gallon pots as I grow them at home and I am limited in space, so for me it's just 3 gallons. But I believe the principles are the same.

First, I'd think that the white color of the pots isn't quite enough to keep the temps of the soil reasonably low, especially if the buckets are exposed to direct sunlight. Additional insulation around the pots is advisable. I use white polystyrene.

Second, as the buckets are 5-gallon, I would prefer a layer of gravel or small stones on the bottom and the drainage holes on the sides, say, half or a bit more of an inch above the bottom. The reason is that there will remain some water for the roots to reach on the bottom and the plant will be safer if you forget to water it. And some tissue under the stones wouldn't be a bad idea. I use bowls under my pots with holes in the bottom, but they lose water through evaporation, which isn't a problem here b'c the climate is not as hot as yours.

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Old January 25, 2021   #3
zipcode
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I would go with them on the side. Once the plants grow there won't be enough water retention on a really hot day to keep them watered until evening when you come back (it has happened to me).
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Old January 31, 2021   #4
volare71
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Check out "gardening with Leon' on YouTube. His self watering tubs are ideal for what you're trying todo. I would think that 5 gal. would be the minimum for your tomato plants.
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Old January 31, 2021   #5
rdback
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Have you ever thought about a SIP bucket? Here's an example of the concept. Just something for you to consider.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pf1VhOajbmU
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Old February 1, 2021   #6
jmsieglaff
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I have grown dwarf tomatoes in 5 gallon buckets (along with an occasional determinate) for years with good success. I drilled 2 1/2" holes about 2" up from the bottom the bucket, essentially creating a reservoir for water, but still providing drainage. Watering requirements go along with the weather some, but that seems to be mainly driven by plant size. I'll go from weekly to every few days to every other day to every day. I live in southern Wisconsin, so not as hot as Sacramento--we have a lot of 80s and some 90s, but my buckets are in full sun on a deck. I also mulch my buckets with straw, which makes a surprising difference. I fill them with ProMix. I use green buckets from Menards, which would be equivalent to the orange HD buckets.
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Old February 5, 2021   #7
guruofgardens
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Bakeries offer free white buckets if you ask. Mine are close to 4.5 gal each. The self watering ones that you make are quite easy. We've used them for 5+ years. We put them in a wooden rectangular box and add styrofoam around the buckets to keep them cool/warm, depending on the season.
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