How Many Tomatoes Can You Plant in a 5 Gallon Bucket?
Tomatoes are a fruit that is commonly used as vegetable. It is also one of the most versatile foods on the planet.
In addition, tomatoes are fairly easy to grow both in rural and urban settings since they are easily adaptable to container gardening (including 5 gallon buckets).
And that brings us to the question, how many tomato plants fit in a 5 gallon bucket?
The simple answer is, it depends on the variety of tomato, and we will go into details shortly, including the best tomato varieties to grow in 5 gallon buckets.
Used in juices, salsas, sauces, jams and jellies, tomatoes can also be enjoyed both raw and cooked. A favorite addition to sandwiches, soups and casseroles, the tomato is also a mainstay of vegetarian and vegan menus.
Best of all, by canning or freezing tomatoes you can enjoy a harvest of them throughout the year.
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How Many Tomato Plants Per 5 Gallon Bucket?
How many tomato plants you can grow in a 5-gallon bucket will depend on the type and variety of tomato you intend to grow. Most cherry tomato plants and a few other varieties will allow you to plant two or three plants in a bucket. For larger varieties it is suggested that you grow only one plant per bucket.
While one plant per 5-gallon bucket may not seem worth the time and effort, when you stop and consider that each plant will yield 20 to 90 fruits, they are definitely worth growing especially if you love tomatoes.
In fact, just two or three plants may provide enough tomatoes for a small family to enjoy throughout the winter while saving you money on your grocery bill.
Why Grow Tomatoes in 5 Gallon Buckets
Growing tomatoes in a 5-gallon bucket actually has some real advantages. The portability of these buckets allow you to move your tomatoes indoors should the weather turn cold.
It also allows you to move the buckets around to follow the sun to help insure your tomatoes get the right amount of light each day to help grow a bountiful crop.
In addition, for those of you who have limited space, you can find room for one or two 5-gallon buckets just about anywhere.
Five-gallon buckets are the right depth and circumference to grow just about any variety of tomato and the container helps keep pests and even diseases at bay.
Best of all, you won’t find yourself weeding your plants.
Best Varieties of Tomatoes to Grow in a 5-Gallon Bucket
As previously mentioned you can grow just about any variety of tomato in a 5-gallon bucket as long as you have adequate support for larger plants.
However, here are some of the best varieties of tomato to grow in a 5-gallon bucket.
Big Boy Bush
Bush champion tomatoes are a great choice for those who live in climates with shorter growing seasons.
They grow on a bush about 2 feet high and are heat tolerant and early bearing. The tomatoes that you get are large and meaty and you will be harvesting your fruits for several months.
Bush Goliath tomatoes grow on a bush that only grows 3 feet tall. The tomatoes are large and sweet and the plant produces fruit right up to the fall frost.
Roma Tomatoes (Window Box)
These tomatoes grow on a bush that grows to be between 2 and 3 foot tall. The tomatoes themselves are pear shaped and sweet tasting and have a long shelf life.
Sun Sugar Tomatoes
A great tomato for people who want to grow cherry tomatoes, this tomato has rich sweet taste and a long growing season. With this plant you can grow 2 or 3 plants per bucket.
Early girl tomatoes are another variety that is perfect for people who have a short growing season. This variety bears large fruits and has a quick harvest taking only about 2 months to bear healthy fruit.
Other varieties that grow well in 5-gallon buckets include: Patio F, Celebrity, Tiny Tim cherry tomatoes, Gardeners Delight, San Marzano, Cherokee Purple and Black Kim.
What to Consider Before Growing Tomatoes in 5 Gallon Buckets
Before attempting to grow tomatoes there are few things you will need to consider including:
- Type of Tomato to Grow – Your first consideration should be the type and variety of tomato you are looking to grow. Do you want to grow cherry tomatoes? Grape tomatoes? Roma? Beef Steak? Knowing what type of tomato you are looking to grow will allow you understand what your particular plants need.
- Desired Yield – You will also need to determine how many tomatoes you want to grow.
- Number of Buckets You Need – You want to know how many 5-gallon buckets you will need and where you will get the buckets from.
- Length of Growing Period – If you live in an area with a short growing period then you either are going to want a variety of tomato that ripens early or you will need to grow your tomatoes inside at least for some of the time.
What You Need to Start Growing Tomatoes in 5 Gallon Buckets
- 5-Gallon Buckets – Look for food grade buckets for growing your tomatoes or any other vegetable.
- Tomato Seeds or Seedlings
- Drill and Bits – To make drainage holes in the bottom of your buckets
- Potting Soil Mixture – Your best bet is a mixture of high quality nutrient rich potting soil, compost, peat moss and Perlite (or sand.)
- Support – If your tomato plant is going to need support you are going to need either a tomato cage or stakes.
- Water Soluble Fertilizer
Planting and Growing Tomatoes in 5 Gallon Buckets – Basic Directions
Here are some general directions for growing tomatoes in 5 gallon buckets.
Step 1 – Prepare Food Grade Buckets
Make sure that your food grade buckets are clean and then drill about 6 drill holes in the bottom of each bucket. You will also need wood blocks, or paving stones to elevate the buckets so that your plants can drain properly.
Step 2 – Prepare Your Potting Soil Mixture
A few days before planting, prepare your nutrient rich potting soil by combining it with peat moss, perlite or sand, and some rich compost. Allow the soil to sit and settle in the bucket.
Step 3 – Set Your Buckets in an Area of Sunlight
Tomatoes need 6 to 8 hours of light per day, so find a sunny spot in your yard or on your patio to grow your plants. If you are doing some of the growing of your plants indoors make sure you can supply adequate artificial light.
Step 4 – Plant Your Seedlings
You are going to want to plant your seedlings in the center of your bucket (if planting a single plant). Leave just 2 or 4 leaves above the surface of the soil.
Then fill in the soil around the stem and roots of the plant and pat it down firm.
Step 5 – Add Support if Needed
If your specific variety of tomato plant requires support then you are going to want to provide a tomato cage, trellis or stakes.
Step 6 – Water Well
You are going to water the soil around your newly planted plants until water freely runs out of the bottom of the bucket.
Step 7 – Maintain Moisture
In order to thrive, tomato plants need plenty of water so you are going to want to maintain moisture throughout the entire growing season.
Step 8 – Add Fertilizer
You are going to want to add fertilizer to your plants every 2 weeks or slightly more often.
How Many Tomato Plants Per 5 Gallon Container? Conclusion
How may tomato plant you grow in a 5 gallon bucket depend on the variety of tomato. The more care you take of your tomato plants the more fruit your plant will produce. While growing tomatoes in a 5-gallon bucket takes some effort, the bountiful harvest is well worth the time and effort you put into growing this produce.