Tomatoes and their need for water

James Bryan C
by James Bryan C
I started May 28th planting 4 tomatoes around a garbage can with holes drilled in the bottom rim and a second row up about 10 inches. I buried the can to where the top holes just barely were above the ground, put in two shovels full of compost, then I fill the can up with water ever 2 days and tried not to water the leaves.
These four plants are now 5 ft 4 inches in less that a month and a half and loaded with green tomatoes and about a hundred sets of tomato blossoms.
May 28th 2012
End of June toping the 3 ft cage
July 9th after a week of record high temps and very little rain...the plants here are loaded with tomatoes inside the cage and full of blooms too!
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  • Sandy Sandy on Feb 27, 2023

    Please answer….how many and how large should these holes be. If they’re too big, the water drains right out. Thanks

  • Am179399597 Am179399597 on Mar 14, 2023

    I went back to the beginning of this comment section and he answered all these questions. I have copied the questions and answers:


    interesting! did you add fertilizer to the water in the bucket? if so, how much? can you provide my with the measurements of your bucket please? I have several different shapes 5 bucket pails and want to be sure I am selecting the correct planting/water source depth. thank you for sharing. also, do you have pix of you plants at the bearing stage?

    James Bryan C

    James Bryan C

    on Jan 05, 2016

    @Cc 8 inches deep is all you need to plant the bucket in the ground... I use 5 gallon buckets now and limit my plantings to two plants per bucket and use a cattle panel available at tractor supply or other farm supply stores for around $20 for a 16 ft panel... your top holes are just barely above the ground so the plant gets water at three different zones and I use compost 2 scoops or shovels full and add the water weekly until I am tired of harvesting tomatoes


    @Cherry I bought mine at Wal-Mart listed on the national organic program name was copper ??? Try to keep the leaves from getting excessive water, by that I mean you can not help rain water, but do not allow your watering program to get the leaves wet, keep the water down in the bucket, the holes drilled in the side are more than enough to water the plants at the surface for the shallow roots down 4 inches to water the sub soil roots zone and 8 inches deep to water the deep tap root zone and this root zone is where most of the minerals are leached down into. Loss of calcium causes Blossom end Rot where you have a real nice tomato on the surface but when you pick them the bottom side is rotted out. You can add calcium all you want but if the plant does not get enough deep watering (which most gardeners water the leaves and never get enough water per plant to get a really deep soil watering... then because of leaf watering they start getting fungus, because they water too late in the day and night time temperatures are in the right range to allow fungus to start... if you must leaf water, water early morning where the leaves will dry off before night fall....


    How big are the holes and did you drill them or punch them Phil

    James Bryan C

    James Bryan C

    on Nov 24, 2015

    @Bo Baines 1/4" drill bit


  • Hsk84069229 Hsk84069229 on Jun 10, 2023

    I already have tomatoes planted what should I do to make me produce the biggest harvest. they are above ground in a 5 gal bucket. how to make them more bunch like yours?

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  • Sandy Sandy on Nov 21, 2023

    To James Bryan C. Someone said to use a 1/4 inch drill. How many holes in each row. Sure would be helpful. My water runs out faster than I can fill the bucket! Thanks for your advice.

  • Candice Gollam Candice Gollam on Jan 14, 2024

    Thank you so much for this. I planted my tomatoes similar to this and used the buckets. It was such a terribly hot and dry summer. I was the only person i know with an over abundance of tomatoes. Unfortunately i felt i needed to share and i didnt get enough put away. Haha. But we sure enjoyed some salsa and spaghetti with meatballs. I am definitely doing this again the summer of 2024.

    • Candice Gollam Candice Gollam on Jan 14, 2024

      Ps i had hundred upon hundreds of tomatoes. I really did and lots of neighbors have decided to copy this method for next year and they usually have a bumper crop. I think this was the real reason that i had so many wonderful tomatoes

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