Growing Tomatoes in Containers

I am planning on planting in five gallon containers. Before planting my tomato plants in plastic containers should I cut holes in bottom for drainage?

Hardiness Zone: 6b

By Elena from White Plains

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April 18, 20110 found this helpful

Yes, you don't want the plants to sit in water, so you will want holes in the sides at the bottoms of the buckets. They don't need to be big holes; if they seem to clog, you can poke a wire (from a clotheshanger) in to open it back up. I use a power drill, but if you don't have one, you can heat a nail over a flame (you will need to hold it with pliers) and poke it through.

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April 18, 20110 found this helpful

I read that to avoid your soil from escaping from your containers to place a Coffee Filter across the drainage holes. Just something I read so whether or not it works has to be experimental.

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April 18, 20110 found this helpful

I made 'self watering' containers out of 5 gallon buckets. For me this has avoided 'rot'. I add a 'calcium tablet' and a few paper match heads to the hole where the tomatoes will go, cover them with an inch or so of soil and then insert the tomato plant. One plant per bucket. I have the best luck with cherry tomatoes for some reason. I also grow bell peppers, hot peppers, all in SWCs.

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April 19, 20110 found this helpful

Elena, Hello! Yes you will have to drill or poke some holes in a plastic container, but may I offer something else to consider? We live in a number 7 (seven) hardiness zone and our experience with the plastic containers was that they got too hot in late summer, and eventually burned the roots of our plants. (Tomatoes and peppers, mostly.)

Over the years, we have found that five to ten gallon styrofoam containers (picnic coolers or bait containers if you are searching for them at a Wal Mart style store) actually caused less heat damage to the roots of the plants and increased the yield of each plant. We poked holes through the bottom of these containers, too, and added a very shallow layer of river rock or gravel before filling the bin with the appropriate soil/manure mix.

The only drawback with this approach was if an unsuspected virus or bacteria took hold in one of our porous, styrofoam containers we had to trash such, but truth be told, that's only happened a very few times (in single containers) in over ten years of using this method.

Hoping you find something that works well for you and yours, just wanted to alert you to the possible down side of using hard, plastic containers in the garden. Good luck and happy eats with the garden fresh foods!

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April 25, 20110 found this helpful

The foal ice chests are a wonderful idea. You can also mix in styrofoam "peanuts" to make the weight less...

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September 30, 20110 found this helpful

First make sure you know that tomatoes have fairly large root systems and about the size of a 5 gallon bucket is the smallest size to use. Yes the coffee filter, single piece of newspaper, or a thin piece of material over the holes keeps the soil from pouring out with the water. Which brings us to size holes, make them at least l/2 inch and at least 4 if you need more you can do so later (come up about 1 inch at least on the container to drill the holes (this makes you a water reservoir) and you will have to add liquid fertilizer regularly at the rate of 1/4 tsp. to a gallon of water.

If your container seems to get too hot then wrap it in newspaper & tie it with a string.

I am going to try the lady's idea with the match and so forth next spring has anyone else tried this I wonder I live in zone 8 deep south and this summer was murder for plants in containers.

When I go to the blood doctor or dentist I ask them for the styrofoam coolers they get their drugs in and sometimes I even get the icepacks with them and the bigger ones work great for the tomatoes and I root fresh tomatoes all summer in the little ones, just cut the suckers off and stick them in potting soil or water and root new ones all summer. Cut at least 1 one inch hole near the bottom for drainage. keeps plants roots warm in winter and cool in summer.

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