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Question on Tomatoes

I have 3 tomato plants I would like to grow all the way in a container instead of the garden to ensure good yield and seeds for next year. My garden soil is not the best since this is my first year and I want to make sure to have a few good Plants the Plants are as follows

1 Black tula
2 Hillbilly
3 mountain princess

I have the following questions before I do this.

1 is it possible?
2 How wide and deep of a container would I need?
3 What should I use to fill the container Ie composted manure, topsoil ect.
4 what supplements should I add to these plants regularly?

Thank you for your help in advance


Jon and Carolyn

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I would use plastic 5 gallon pails with holes in the bottom.
Use the lids for catching water from them.
Mix some bagged garden soil with manure or get the one with manure already in it.
A simple 10-10-10 time release pellet fertilizer will be fine.

Or you could just dig a hole in the garden and replace the soil in the hole with that you would use in the 5 gallon pails.

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No matter what kind of plant you want to grow in a container, the soil must drain rapidly. Buy a potting mix for this purpose. It drains faster than a garden mix. You can mix in some compost, and even worm castings, if you wish, but whether you do or not, definitely add about 1/4 perlite to the mix. You want 3 parts potting mix to 1 part perlite. You can toss in some sand if you like, but it isn't really necessary. The perlite will do the job. :)

You can successfully grow your tomatoes, even full-size indeterminate types, in a 5 gallon bucket with holes in the bottom. They will need support, though, so plan ahead for that. Tomato cages like you buy in the stores are generally too short for full-size tomato plants. I only grow cherry tomatoes, and the year before last, they grew to at least 6' tall, maybe taller.

You could use larger containers, which I do. I find that gives a large plant more stability, so it's less likely to fall over in a wind. A larger container also gives me room to provide a good support system around the plant. My containers are just large plastic pots I got for free from a local nursery. They're about 20" across and 20" deep, maybe a bit bigger. :)

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I use 7-gallon nursery containers which seem to be large enough.

The hardest challenge for me was getting the correct soil mixture. I ended up using about 1/2 very loamy soil, 1/4 aged compost and 1/4 very aged horse manure, all mixed together. If I have any potting mix left from starting seeds, it goes in also. Finally, a good tablespoon full of Tomato-Tone and about a teaspoon of Blood Meal.

The mix didn't dry out daily, which is good for tomatoes; I watered them about twice a week. But this spring, even after going through several freeze/thaw cycles this winter, when I would empty a container the mix would fall apart - no compaction at all!


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I would recommend anything larger than 5 gallon. I use 7 - 10 gallon myself with success. The mix should be light you don't want it to be sitting in water, but on the other hand remember that pots will dry out very fast and will need to watered more. I water till I see it come out the bottom. Than wait till it is dry before watering again. I have heard of people last year in the heat of the Texas summer sometimes watering certain plants twice a day.

One thing to think about is if you have nursery's around you, they may be willing to give up big pots for free. I have a ton of all sizes that I have collected from a few nursery's around me. I have from 3 inch to 10 gallon and pretty much everything in between that you would need. You may want to look into that. IMHO 5 gallon is just too small.

Heck my biggest Cherry from last year grew 7 foot plus than it started to come back down over the extension I put on my cages.

They will grow in pots just don't expect miracles, you will get fruit and thus seed so good luck and don't forget to keep track of your progress for us. We never stop learning.


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I'm going to have 3 container tomatos this year- Home Depot sells these wonderful 18 gallon bins for 5 bucks, and all you have to do is drill some drainage holes in the bottom- put in some potting soil- and voila! 18 gals will hopefully give them plenty of room

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I am experimenting this year with containers. Last year my tomatoes suffered from blight. This year I built two "Earthtainers" - created by Ray Newstead. The instructions are on Gary Ibsen's website "". They are large, self-watering containers.

In addition, I will have 3 - 10 gallon containers, and 4 Topsy Turveys (I am one of the rare few that like them).

I am growing:

Chocolate cherry
Black krim
Cherokee purple
Moldavin green
Pineapple beefsteak
Green zebra
Yellow plum
Sweeties (I think that's the name - cherry tomatoes)
Amish paste
Tiny Tim
Small fry

I'll let you know how it goes if they survive the next few nights of crazy Chicago weather!

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On may way to check out that suggested site.

Plan on digging a few holes and filling with good material to plant them in.

I never new tomatos could get 12' tall

How do you sugjest supporting them?

How do you get the tomatos from the top?

Tried a topsey turvy last year and my plant grew around the bottom then back up towards the sun guess I did something wrong.


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Chaesman wrote:
I never knew tomatoes could get 12' tall

How do you suggest supporting them?

How do you get the tomatos from the top?

Tried a topsey turvy last year and my plant grew around the bottom then back up towards the sun guess I did something wrong.


Not all varieties will get that big and it depends on conditions. You don't have to allow them to. Once my tomatoes get about 5-6' tall, I start clipping off the growing tips to slow them down and get them to focus on making more tomatoes.

Check out the sticky on supporting tomatoes here:

very thorough about lots of different methods.

No you didn't do anything wrong, growing upwards towards the sunlight is what plants do.

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