Growing Tomatoes in Five Gallon Buckets

Whether rich or poor or experiencing drought or heavy rains, you can grow tomatoes in a five-gallon bucket and a sunny location! It's cost effective and you can control the quality of the soil and the amount of water resulting in that oh-so-yummy warm tomato right out of the garden experience!
You can usually find someone to give you a five-gallon bucket or you can buy one for about $2.50 (Lowe's). Drill 4-5 holes on the bottom for drainage. Add some compost/soil that drains well followed by your tomato plant!
These plants are on my deck -- easy access to my water hose--but don't over water!! Tomatoes are sweeter when they are in dryer soil.
If your Five-Gallon-Tomato Plant sits on a wooden deck, add a drip tray so moisture doesn't get trapped underneath the bucket and rot the wood.
Tomatoes need to be caged or staked since they are berries and have a need to climb. If these do as well as I think, I may add stakes inside the cages so they can grow up up up!!!
Finally, this is what we're all looking forward to. Is there anything better?

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Have a question about this project?

5 questions
  • Sheila McKean Bagg
    on May 29, 2016

    My problem is squirrels! We live in St. Petersburg, FL and there is a pond about 15 feet from our back patio which is surrounded by sapling trees (to contain a supposed alligator within the pond?). We have no less than 6 squirrels that eat out of our bird feeder. When I planted ONE tomato plant and ONE cherry tomato plant in one of those 5 gallon Home Depot buckets, I lost about 10 tomatoes to the squirrels. :( Any tips on how I can keep them out so I can eat some of the tomatoes?

    • Judi
      on May 29, 2016

      @Sheila McKean Bagg we use a Teacup Yorkie... he does a fantastic job of keeping squirrels, crows and magpies out of our yard!

    • Sheila McKean Bagg
      on May 29, 2016

      @Judi I have two cats who do nothing to keep the squirrels at bay! :)

    • Judi
      on May 30, 2016

      it needs to be a dog.... our little guy can out run a squirrel!

    • Linda Rockhold
      on Jun 12, 2016

      We feed our squirrels peanuts, they leave the tomatoes alone.

    • Susan Snyder
      on Sep 15, 2016

      Build a simple cage out of chicken wire and wrap it around the plant. Make sure you put some over the top so the squirrels can't get in. I used to lose SO many tomatoes to squirrels! I actually built a 4' x 4' x 8' "house" for my plants out of chicken wire on a light wooden framework. Ever since, I haven't lost a single tomato!

    • Karen McCoach
      on Jan 9, 2017

      Sheila McKean Bagg - you must live close to me by your description of your property. I also have 2 Yorkies and a cat that help keep the squirrels away from my tomatoe plants safe but at this moment my husband is now taking part of our house apart because we kept hearing scratching and chewing. I thought it was a rat but no it's a momma squirrel and 2 babies. I don't know what he's going to do with them the babies look like they are less than a week old. Any suggestions.

    • Sheila McKean Bagg
      on Jan 10, 2017

      Karen, we are between 4th Street N and MLK N about a block off of

    • Charlotte, a smart old lady
      on Jun 29, 2017

      I have been told squirrels eat tomatoes, (sometimes just taking one bite and leaving the est) to get the moisture to drink. I have a raised deck. I put out an old oblong bowl and fill it every morning with fresh water. The squirrels drink all day out of it. So do the various kinds of birds, a neighborhood cat and one time a stray dog. The robins, blue jays, and cardinals all take a bath in it and fluff their wings. I really enjoy all the company and I'm not bothered by the critters eating any tomatoes. You might try that.
    • Arnold Christensen
      on Jul 8, 2017

      I read that if you watch your tomatoes and as soon as you begin to see them get pink you pick them and take them indoors to ripen you will beat the squirrels and the birds chewing and pecking on them. No proble here in CC, TX as I last saw a squirrel 11 yrs ago in my yard.
    • Sheila McKean Bagg
      on Jul 9, 2017

      The problem with that is that they got them while they were still green! We've moved away from that place though so I'm going to try again over here!
  • Asha Ravada
    on Jun 20, 2016

    Great Info. Thanks. can you share where can we purchase that drip tray ?

  • Ppi23354624
    on May 10, 2017

    i have given up raising tomatoes---not that I don't have good luck raising them, I do but I have the same problem every year---SNAKES!!! Every thing from rattle snakes to garter, to bull snakes ---what can I do??
    • Eva Barker Beaule
      on May 10, 2017

      Yikes! Are you growing them in containers?
    • Ppi23354624
      on May 10, 2017

      no the only good place to grow them here is right in front of the house and 5 gallon containers would not look attractI've----the snakes are just around the plant area and scare me when I walk up to check for tomatoes. I think I am not going to enjoy tomatoes ---too scary!
    • Wendy Knauss
      on May 15, 2017

      Maybe you could paint the buckets to make them look nicer.
    • Wanda Dickson Beaird
      on May 29, 2017

      A little advice from Louisiana...put out moth balls.
    • Patricia Trickey
      on Jun 12, 2017

      Snake away from Home Depot. You have to sprinkle around after each rain but it works!!! Also Ditto on changing color if buckets. You can build a simple but pretty wall out of lattice. I did that for garbage can.
    • Alice
      on Jan 17, 2018

      I'll be planting tomatoes next year,& maybe a pepper plant or too.
      -Thanks for te inspiration-
    • Joanie
      on Mar 2, 2018

      What can you do........I would RUN like hell!!!!

    • Tallahassee Girl
      on May 8, 2018

      I ain't scared of no snakes. I lied. Growing up in rural North Florida, we always had mousers, they were also excellent for keeping snakes away. I recently spotted my first one of the year. Twas just a baby but the war is on. I HATE SNAKES OF ALL RACES, DENOMINATIONS, AND ETHNICITIES!

    • Csc21486249
      on Jul 11, 2018

      I live in the N.Ga woods...lots of snakes. Our 3cats keep them away .

    • Csc21486249
      on Jul 11, 2018

      I live in the north Georgia woods, lots of snakes. Our three cats keep them away.

    • Kathy Huff
      on May 27, 2019

      We put out moth balls. They work for us. We live in N.MS. and haven't seen a snake in a few years. I put them all over the place. Hope this helps

    • Rhonda
      on Jun 27, 2019

      Mousers Tallahassee Girl?

    • Denisesisco
      on Jul 16, 2019

      If possible, bring in Guinea fowl. Not only do they kill snakes, roost in trees...but they eat ticks!!

    • Stu
      on Jan 27, 2020

      Yep used that snake away powder around the chicken coop yrs ago and it kept the black snakes from stealing the eggs.

    • Ron
      on Feb 10, 2020

      Spread sulfer around the perimeter of your property. This will keep snakes away. They will slither away from it. They do not like the odor. We do this and we have seen snakes run from it. Our neighbor had a pile of brush and logs close to our property. we were afraid snakes would be living there, so we put it out and the snakes came out going in the opposite direction. IT REALLY WORKS. We live in the country. We want our grandchildren safe when playing in the yard.

    • NancyMaria
      3 days ago

      and replace after every rain.

  • Mfu28521910
    on Jul 29, 2017

    I have beautiful tomato plants 3 foot tall and no blooms for tomatoes yet?
  • Cindy Rubin
    on Aug 4, 2019

    How can I keep the squirrels and BIRDS away. Last year my tomatoes were either picked off the vine or pecked like crazy from the birds. Would the plants be hindered by a tighter mesh 'cage' ?

    • Joanie
      on Jan 17, 2020

      I had the same problem last year Cindy. Beautiful plants, growing well, lot of buds and blossoms. The birds and squirrels all zoomed right in on them. In cages in HUGE planters. I even had a rabbit come up on my deck.....can you believe that one. I need to get me another cat....they are the answer to a lot of varmints!!! I didn't have problems when Miss Kitty was living.

    • Jeanne Martin
      on Jan 27, 2020

      My German Shepherd was a great varmint chaser!

    • Stu
      on Jan 27, 2020

      My cats keep the squirrels away but have made friends with the raccoons and Momma and her little ones eat out of the cat food dish along with my cats !!

Join the conversation

3 of 81 comments
  • L
    on Jan 27, 2020

    I live in the country in IL. I have a terrible problem with raccoons coming up on my porch and digging up every flower and vegetable I have in pots. They even tore open a new 40 pound bag of potting soil and spread it all over my wrap around porch! Grrr!

    Someone said it's bc I used Miracle Grow potting mix in my potting soil and it has bone meal. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    • L
      on Jan 27, 2020

      Thanks, Carol! I will definitely give that a try and use different soil. I hate to give up my porch pots. I really missed them last summer.

  • Lulis Del Castillo-Gonzalez
    on Jan 27, 2020

    I’d try this idea but the deer are just too hungry out here!!!

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