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The Tomato Bucket Experiment – An Attractive New Twist on Growing Patio Tomatoes

What began as the tomato bucket experiment to grow a few salad tomatoes at the house turned into one of our most successful garden trials of the season!

tomato bucket experiment

The completed Tomato Bucket Planter growing in late June

Growing anything at all at our house is a far cry more difficult from the ease of which we can grow produce at our farm. Not only is our home situated in a heavily wooded residential neighborhood that blocks a tremendous amount of the day’s sunlight – it also serves home to a large population of marauding deer that love to eat anything in sight.

They love to roam the neighborhood and surrounding woods and snack on crab apples, clover and whatever planted treats they can find. Even the front porch is not safe. Just a few weeks back, they came right up on our neighbor’s porch and mowed down their potted plants – and a few years back – helped themselves to some Halloween pumpkins on display on our porch as well.

So that leaves our fenced-in back deck area as our only option for plants  – and wanting to have a near-by supply of salad tomatoes on hand – we decided to grow a plant or two at the house – bucket style.

tomato bucket experiment

The planter has produced buckets of beautiful and delicious chocolate-cherry tomatoes – with no end in sight!

Now we have always grown some smaller plants on the deck each year in pots – but we really wanted a larger tomato plant. The key was to grow it in something that fit on our back porch – and was still pleasing to the eye.

So we decided on growing our tomato plant in a bucket – and then hide it with a wooden cover and a built-in trellis system. We are amazed at how well it has worked!

Using a large potting bucket we had on hand (a 5 gallon bucket would work perfectly) – we potted up one of our heirloom tomato plants this spring.  We then used left-over 1 x 6″ decking boards and cut them to create a simple decorative box that would slip over the bucket. (This is the perfect place to use pallet wood – see : How To Work With Pallets!)

To complete the entire “Bucket Cover Planter” – we then attached a piece of 4′ high x 16″ wide galvanized grid we cut from goat panel fencing to the inside of the box. We slipped the box and trellis over the bucket plant – and voila – we had an attractive outdoor tomato planting box, complete with its own trellis system

Next year - we may just add in a couple more boxes for peppers and create our own salsa back porch garden!

Next year – we may just add in a couple more boxes for peppers and create our own salsa back porch garden!

The little planter has performed beautifully – the bucket allows for easy watering, and of course no weeding! By screwing in the trellis to the box – it’s strong, sturdy and provides perfect support for the tomato. In addition, by using the large bucket – the plant has plenty of room to establish a deep and complete root system for maximum production. In fact – the plant has been by far the most productive plant we have grown this year – period! The Chocolate Cherry heirloom and San Marzano tomato plants are two great choices to grow in the buckets. The San Marzano  are perfect for salsa and sauces.

I think next year we are going to expand the experiment and add a couple more bucket planter boxes to grow our own little salsa garden on the deck. It’s simple, attractive, easy to maintain – and delicious!  It also would make the perfect growing medium for gardeners of all ages!

Happy Gardening! – Jim and Mary

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