Tomatoes and their need for water

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!

Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

  237 questions
  • Juanette Stokes Juanette Stokes on Nov 11, 2015
    How big is the circle of wire around the tomatoes?

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Nov 11, 2015
      @Juanette Stokes a four foot circle..... using 13 feet +- of wire..... cattle panels are easier though can pick them up at a tractor supply store or other farm goods store and last longer I use 2 16' panels and sandwich my tomatoes between them easy to gather and much sturdier than conventional cages

  • Marlene Coetzee Burger Marlene Coetzee Burger on Nov 21, 2015
    Can one apply the same to eggplants and sweet chillies?

  • Bo Baines Bo Baines on Nov 24, 2015
    How big are the holes and did you drill them or punch them Phil

  • Steve Steve on Dec 18, 2015
    Why did you try to avoid getting water on the leaves?

    • Dave Free Dave Free on Dec 28, 2015
      @Steve, Because wet leaves promote mold, fungus and blight, diseases that will injure the tomato plant and ruin the fruit. Cold rain and/or temperatures amplifies the effects.

  • Steve Steve on Dec 18, 2015
    Why did you try to avoid getting water on the leaves?

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Dec 18, 2015
      @Steve water on the leaves spreads fungus and blights... commercial growers always water at the root, you can not help rain water and can use a copper based fungicide (It's Organic) to help combat fungus, the other reason is water on the leaves evaporates rapidly and does not give the plants the water required to produce fruits, and those that are produced often are plagued with Blossom End Rot... which is a calcium deficiency that can be eliminated if the plant gets 5 gallons of water per week . This method produces deep root watering eliminates BER and helps the plant to produce an abundant crop of tomatoes for the home gardener.. a yield of 25lbs to the plant can be produced if you feed, water and keep an eye on other plant conditions throughout the growing season. 25lbs is the target most commercial producers expect per plant for the entire season...

  • Carol Carol on Dec 19, 2015
    I don't see any blossoms or tomatoes. Too much nitrogen maybe?

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Dec 19, 2015
      @Carol On the photos here or on your tomatoes this year? Tomatoes and most blooming vegetables love phosphorus for bloom try adding a fertilizer with a higher middle number for the phosphorus.... for more bloom, but stake them heavy if you put additional phosphorus as you will increase yield if you keep up the water routine .... also if your plants are in shade you will see decreased blooming... I harvested over 25bs per plant on mine

  • Michele Michele on Dec 26, 2015
    Once they get tall, how do you add water to the trash can?

  • Helen Caldwell Helen Caldwell on Dec 27, 2015
    How did you get to the tomatoes to pick them?

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Dec 27, 2015
      @Helen Caldwell dug through the wire.... which is why I use cattle panels now for cages

    • Sunny Sunny on Dec 31, 2015
      @Helen Caldwell If you don't use big hole wire, then make two joins in the wire, so that you can pull it apart and enter from each side. If the circle of wire is supported by stakes all the way round it's much easier.

  • La Quetta Ray La Quetta Ray on Jan 02, 2016
    Are the tomatoes in the bucket holes? I've seen it done better on patios & balconies by arranging clay pots stacked. Just Google tomato planters or look on Pinterest app for DIY tomatoes planters.

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Jan 03, 2016
      @La Quetta Ray The tomatoes are planted in the ground surrounding the bucket... the bucket is used for feeding (compost) and watering 5 gallon of water per week per plant

  • Cc Cc on Jan 05, 2016
    did you have any trouble with leaf blight? seems like there might be limited air flow around the plants.

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Jan 05, 2016
      @Cc No problem with leaf blight... I had planted a strain that had some resistance, but not getting the leaves wet help as well.... that year was a year of drought and I still harvested over 25 lbs per plant... I also follow the commercial standard of not pruning determinant tomatoes except for the lower leaves below the first bloom set...

  • Cc Cc on Jan 05, 2016
    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

  • Debbie Debbie on Jan 06, 2016

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Jan 06, 2016
      @debbie I added 2 shovels full of compost each week until bloom set.. adding the compost became difficult using the round cage which is why I advocate cattle panels available at tractor Supply Company for about $20 for a 16 ft long panel they can cut them into smaller sections for cage materials but adding compost until bloom set allows the plant to grow and helps with blooming after bloom set fertilizer does very little for tomatoes with one exception Indeterminate tomatoes will grow and grow and grow adding more blooms and tomatoes. I planted determinate varieties for a shorter harvest season but still harvested over 25lbs to the plant.. the planint shown yielded over 100 lbs of tomatoes that season

  • Polly Zieper Polly Zieper on Jan 06, 2016
    I'm missing something here. If you wanted to plant tomatoes, and have the cages, why the small trash can? Whats its purpose?

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Jan 06, 2016
      @Polly Zieper you feed the tomatoes and water them through the can the can allows you to get the compost tea and water into the root zone virtually eliminating blossom end rot and funguses that attack tomato plants.. I harvested over 100 lbs of tomatoes off of those four bushes the trash can there was 13 gallons allowing me to get the plants the required 5 gallons of water per plant per week.. I recommend using 5 gallon buckets for two plants and I use cattle panels for cages available at Tractor supply store or other farm stores....

  • Stephanie Stephanie on Jan 08, 2016
    Ok I know I'm going to sound stupid but how do you get the tomatoes out with out breaking the cage

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Jan 09, 2016
      @Stephanie reach ver the top and down into the bushes... But about oh a thousand posts ago I recommended 16 ft cattle panels available from tractor supply they are sturdy and last for years with large openings for harvest. I sandwich my plantings between the panels using 1/2" electrical conduit pipe for posts and have yet to have a problem using this system

  • Katrin Katrin on Jan 09, 2016
    istn´t it a problem that the tomatoes grow so close? In Germany we are told that each plant needs the airy place to allow the leaves to dry ( from the rain) Last year I unfortunately had a big problem with the rain and the brown rot ( even under a covered area. any tips? thankfully Katrin

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Jan 09, 2016
      @Katrin Tomatoes can grow closer than most people think; the problem is not so much from the rain Unless it is excessive then I don't care how far apart they are they will have problems, The biggest problem is not rain, but leaf watering late in the day.. I do not water leaves I water into the bucket to water the roots. I use copper fungicide to prevent mold and fungus which brown rot is... 90% of garden vegetables do better once you get the water down to the roots... and you eliminate fungus and in tomatoes blossom end rot

  • Ear3881139 Ear3881139 on Jan 11, 2016
    How to water tomato s

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Jan 12, 2016
      @Earlegurney put a hose into the bucket and fill it up.. the water drains out the holes that are drilled in the sides of the bucket

  • Cherry Cherry on Jan 13, 2016
    Hi James. You said you use copper fungicide to prevent mold and fungus which is brown rot. What brand do you use, what is the name of the product you use, how much and how often do you use it. How do you use it? I'm going to try your way to water tomatoes. I've even used the Tomato Planter that hangs and tomatoes grow upside down from the container.....they never produced well and there was fungus and brown rot on them. You water from the top of the container and the water flows down to the roots. I've not had any luck with that system. Since then I've planted a small garden outside which includes tomatoes. I want to get the most produce for my time and money. Any info you can provide me is most appreciated. Cherry

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Jan 13, 2016
      @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....

    • Cherry Cherry on Jan 13, 2016
      @James Bryan C Thank you James. I'm excited about trying the bucket system for watering. Great idea!

  • Tom Esposito Tom Esposito on Jan 13, 2016
    How do you get tomatos outta there without busting up branches?

  • Eric Eric on Jan 13, 2016
    Eric Hammond, WI You say to use a trash can. What size did you use ?

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Jan 13, 2016
      @Eric the one in the phot was 13 gallons it is easier to use a 5 gallon bucket and put it between 2 plants for the same effect

  • Stephany Evers Stephany Evers on Jan 13, 2016
    what part of which country?

  • Deb Deb on Jan 14, 2016
    Did you add the compost to the garbage can and then add water? Or did you put the compost around the garbage can on the outside. Just want to clarify.

  • DIY toady DIY toady on Jan 15, 2016
    What kind of compost do you use and how much for a 3 gallon bucket?

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Jan 16, 2016
      @DIY toady any kind of compost will do homemade is best use 1 /2 gallon appx for a three gallon bucket... 3 gallon is about right for 1 plant 5 gallon bucket for 2

  • Noreen Noreen on Jan 16, 2016
    Why did you have to put the compost in the bucket? Why not dug in the soil around the plantings?

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Jan 16, 2016
      @Noreen In the bucket it gets down into the three root zones of the plants surface roots mid zone roots and the roots that are 8 inches deep... in the hole will work but the compost very rarely will get down deep in the soil where most of the calcium is absorbed into the plant from broken down limestone in the soil

  • Liz Birge Liz Birge on Jan 18, 2016
    Can you do this for things other than tomatoes?

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Jan 18, 2016
      @Liz Birge Peppers, eggplants both do well with no adaptations needed for the bucket...Cucumbers can be planted around a bucket with one set of holes going all around the bucket and buried only about 3 inches into the ground

  • Mike Mike on Jan 18, 2016
    how did you deal with hornworms i had so much trouble last year

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Jan 19, 2016
      @Mike I use neem oil available in most box stores organic you can hand pick them off but in a large patch that is hard to do

    • Cher Kalil Cher Kalil on Mar 14, 2016
      We have always used a clean tuna or cat food can open on both ends. Simply slide it down to the earth over the stem. Push it into the soil about half inch and you're good to go. Can't remember why it worked. Not sure if they can't get over it because it's metal. I just know it has always worked. You should make sure you promptly remove your plants at the end of the season to rid any end of season eggs on the leaves. Check out this video!

  • Kit4069851 Kit4069851 on Jan 19, 2016
    What size is the can? I can't tell by the picture and is it plastic? Sorry but I'm looking at this on my phone. Thank you

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Jan 20, 2016
      @Kittyvward original planting I used a 13 gallon plastic can for 4 plants... for most home gardeners I recommend a 5 gallon bucket for 2 plants and cattle panels for cages as they last for years and have large openings they are available at Tractor Supply or other Farm supply stores... they are 5' tall and 16' long you can use electrical conduit pipe for posts and buy two panels to sandwich the tomato plants in the center.. and can plant 6 to 8 tomato plants in the row depending on how close you want to have the plants...

    • Kit4069851 Kit4069851 on Jan 29, 2016
      I check my plants frequently and have always caught them and picked them off.

  • Dianna Chapman Dianna Chapman on Jan 19, 2016
    What size holes did you drill?

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Jan 20, 2016
      @Dianna Chapman 1/4" holes

    • Jean Claude Champrroux Jean Claude Champrroux on Jan 27, 2016
      @James Bryan C Bonjour, merci de votre poste sur votre technique de pousse des tomates.Pourriez vous me donner des conditions climatique chez vous et si avec nos conditions climatique on pourrais obtenir les mêmes avantage. Je suis agriculteur à la retraite depuis 18 mois et je pratique la permaculture au niveau de mon jardin. j'ai un petit renseignement à vous demandé, Si vous pouviez reconnaître cette variété de tomate, si les photos passe bien. Je vous souhaite de bonne récoltes 2016.

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Jan 27, 2016
      @Dianna Chapman 1/4 inch

  • Patricia Patricia on Jan 25, 2016
    How many tomato plants did you put in here? 3?

    • Patricia Patricia on Jan 25, 2016
      Oh sorry I see that you put in 4 don't they choke each other in this 36 inches diameter?

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Jan 25, 2016
      @Patricia They are determinates and did fine.. If I were planting indeterminate tomatoes I would have done only 2

  • AnDie AnDie on Jan 26, 2016
    Did you pinch off any of the suckers when the plants were babies? I'm told that cuts down on vines that don't yield and increases production...Comments?

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Jan 26, 2016
      @AnDie Old way of doing things was to prune part due to the inability to fight diseases and watering issues (Leaf watering) These plants are determinate tomatoes and they are only pruned up to the first blossom when they are planted.. Indeterminate tomatoes in greenhouse conditions are pruned to a single leader or stalk in the field they are pruned at planting and as needed.. but imagine the labor needed to prune even an acre of tomatoes.... commercial growers don't prune except at planting and they expect a minimum of 25 lbs per plant or they are nowhere near making money with tomatoes... A lot of the older methods work and I use them, but I also have learned that there was a reason for the way old timers did things and if you eliminate that reason (Leaf watering) you can net commercial rates of harvest in the home garden without chemicals just by watering the roots

    • Polly Zieper Polly Zieper on Jan 28, 2016
      what is leaf watering, just what it sounds like? and why would you water the leaves?

    • Robert E. Friedland Robert E. Friedland on Feb 11, 2016
      Leaf watering (a term I'm not familiar with) would refer to overhead sprinkling or, for that matter, natural rain fall. Tomatoes of funny about that. They need plenty of water but they don't do well if their leaves stay wet. So it's best to have drip irrigation or some kind of ground watering such as a soaker hose that allows water to seep through its sides. The hose lies on the ground (or it can be placed beneath the soil). This not only gives the roots the water they need but also reduces water wasted to evaporation.

  • Peggy Peggy on Jan 27, 2016
    I'm wondering if you would have a remedy for moles. They have taken one entire plant under in one day, with the tomatoes on the vines. Not one leaf left. Nothing but the hole where the plant was. (Imagine me watching those plants and waiting until the perfect day to go pick them. So frustrating!) Since I have a raised bed due to back issues, my husband took out all the soil and we put tin in the bottom with some holes punched in for drainage. We will try it again this season. Just wondering if you are bothered by them. Thanks so much. (And thanks for the tip on the watering bucket.)

    • Lisa L Lisa L on Jan 27, 2016
      Sounds like you have a pest problem, but it's not moles. Moles survive on earthworms and grubs, nothing else. They do not eat plants, fruits, roots, veggies or any vegetation. They eat worms - that's all. They can kill plants by damaging roots while creating tunnels (in search of worms) but a tiny worm eating mole, that only weighs1 ounce each (1.5 oz. if fat), can not and would not pull a tomato plant - and it's fruit, under ground. A 1 oz. critter doesn't have the strength to do it and more so, wouldn't exert the energy on something they can't/don't/won't eat. You need to identify the real culprit.... and then a solution. By the way - I have several vermiculture beds (composting with worms, not heat) and have to deal with moles every year. After all, I have thousands of red worms which is their main diet. I manually control them. It's not pretty, but effective. Dig em' up, grab them and destroy them - it's the best method I've found in 30 plus years of dealing with them. You obviously have a critter much bigger than a mole though - and your critter eats plants/veggies/fruits.

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Jan 28, 2016
      @Peggy I would think this is something other than moles... Unless the moles just undermine the bush to the point it's roots are exposed to other things.. Traps work sometimes... I have had more luck out of a barn cat bringing moles to the doorstep during early spring and summer... Depending on how large the hole is it could be a ground hog, skunk or even a rabbit... The skunk and rabbit would not eat the bush maybe the fruits a ground hog will eat the ripe fruit and damage the roots... I would suggest laying a plastic coated wire mesh with about a 1 inch hole in the bottom of the raised bed frame.. It will last for several years and would help prevent anything burrowing up from the bottom... The only other culprit might be a cat digging to catch a mole It is difficult to determine with out seeing the hole and the area around your raised bed to determine the habitat and what animal or animals are in the given area.... Hope this gives you a little more to go on..

    • Peggy Peggy on Jan 28, 2016
      Thanks Lisa and James. I didn't see any tracks, just a hole. Since we live in the country, it could be something eating from the top. I really don't know if deer eat tomatoes or not. Since the root and all were gone and the hole undisturbed, it seems to more likely be something pulling it downward. However, that theory also isn't very believable because these were very large plants and I can't see how they would be pulled through a small hole. I didn't know that moles only eat worms. Seems that I need to do some more research. Our dog brought one of them to our door, and my husband killed one with a shovel. I did read that if you kill one, another one just moves into the tunnel. We've tried flushing their holes with water, tried poking dryer sheets into the holes (A local garden center person swore by this method.) but so far, nothing works. Thanks again for your input.

    • Peggy Peggy on Jan 28, 2016
      I thought of something else too. On another occasion one of the plants was wilting. I kept watering every day but it didn't help. About day 3, I took hold of the plant to move it over a bit so I could get a good look at the roots and it just fell over. There were no roots at all. I'm still scratching my head over this.

    • Robert E. Friedland Robert E. Friedland on Feb 11, 2016
      Voles (more like a mouse than like a mole) and gophers are voracious eaters even though they are small animals. They can wipe out crops quickly and have an ability to multiply rapidly when they have abundant food supply. You wouldn't see the gophers working underground or the vole escaping under the foliage in the blink of an eye when you are around.

    • Peggy Peggy on Feb 11, 2016
      Thanks Robert. I have never even heard of voles before. No doubt it could be the problem. I'm getting educated and I will try some things. It's a 'forever' battle in our area (and I suppose every area) to see if the humans get fed or the animals.

    • Cher Kalil Cher Kalil on Mar 14, 2016
      Hi Peggy, it certainly sounds like voles to me! For memory sake just remember that moles eat meat, and voles eat veggies. There is an organic product that I've had good results with keeping voles and woodchucks away. I believe the name was scram or scat, but there are other brands. You want the dry, shake product made with clove. The smell of clove can be smelled all around the yard for days after, but will subside within about a week. Good luck!

    • Peggy Peggy on Mar 17, 2016
      Cher, thank you so much! I certainly will try to find this product and use it asap.

    • Genie Genie on May 29, 2016
      I don't know if you have gophers in your area, but that's what your problem sounds like. I personally have seen a 2 foot plant pulled under by a gopher. Best idea is to ask at a local nursery.

  • Kathy L. E. Therrien Kathy L. E. Therrien on Jan 28, 2016
    Do you dig a hole and put the bucket down in the ground.......and where do you put the compost? in the bucket.....under the bucket or around it?

  • Cathy Cathy on Jan 29, 2016
    Very cool idea. My husband was asking how big of holes did you drill in the bucket/trash can?

  • Sah4295625 Sah4295625 on Jan 30, 2016
    What is the variety of tomato that you are growing with that :bucket" method? I notice that the plants do not appear as if they were suckered?

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Jan 31, 2016
      @Sah suckering is an old practice that is not needed when you effectively water the plants at the root.... old timers would pull out suckers to limit the amount of water needed to keep the plants going... indeterminate plants benefit in green house situations, but field grown tomatoes are not pruned as heavily.. these are determinate plants and I prune one time only at planting and only up to the first blossom set... I harvest 25lbs + per plant over 100 lbs off these 4 plants

    • Jeff Hartman Jeff Hartman on Feb 01, 2016
      @James, this is not true everywhere. Around here removing suckers is done more for air flow through the plants and for bigger fruit. There is no way I could grow my plants all crammed together and full of suckers here like in the above picture, it is much too humid here and they would all end up with late blight.

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Feb 01, 2016
      @Jeff Hartman I have never had a problem with late blight, I try not to get the leaves wet and use a copper fungicide on an as needed basis... After moving to KY I started using cattle panels and planting the tomatoes in rows with a bucket in between... I grow commercially and I don't have the man power to sucker tomatoes.. most of the Amish around here say the same thing, with the exception of the greenhouse tomatoes, field grown tomatoes are only pruned at planting due to the labor cost in additional pruning... Home gardens can do more pruning, but to each their own..

    • Jeff Hartman Jeff Hartman on Feb 01, 2016
      @James , Yup, it's all about location, also I don't use any pesticides so I have to prevent the problem through air flow instead of copper.

  • Patrick Johnson Patrick Johnson on Jan 31, 2016
    James, do you think this method would work in a large pot/tub (we don't have ground space)?

  • KdMommy KdMommy on Feb 01, 2016
    How big is the garbage can?

  • Christelle Christelle on Feb 11, 2016
    @james what do you mean suckering? Can you send photos of the bucket with holes and a marking of how deep to bury it? Thank you (just learning)

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Feb 11, 2016
      Suckering I the term for side old farm facebook page has information and videos on the bucket... also a detailed note.. Due to my divorce I no longer update the page but there is tons of information available there in the notes section and videos

  • Al Ludlum Al Ludlum on Feb 17, 2016
    James, do you have a diagram showing where you drill the holes? It sounds like there are holes in the bottom of the bucket, then another row about 5" up from the bottom, then another row about 10" above the bottom. How many holes do you put in the bucket and do you put them only where the tomato plants will be, or do you put them completely around the bucket?

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Feb 17, 2016
      Holes are on the side of bucket with a 5 gallon bucket 2 sets of holes one on each side under the handles is best... 1st row at bottom edge 3 to 4 holes about an inch apart go up about 4 inches for the next row 4 to 5 holes an inch apart go up about 4 inches and drill 4 to 5 holes again about an inch or so apart Repeat for other side bury bucket so the to row of holes in barely above the ground plant two tomatoes one for each set of holes plant deeper than the pot they came in as tomatoes will sprout roots

    • Cynthia Chapa Harmel Cynthia Chapa Harmel on Feb 27, 2016
      Is there a way to show a photo of this?I am a visual learner....

  • Allen Allen on Feb 17, 2016
    I don't see a mention of hole diameter. 1/8"... 1/4"? Don't want too big, but not too smalle either... :-/ Thanks!

  • Deltamom Deltamom on Feb 23, 2016
    Would other veggies do just as well planted ur way?

  • Beverley Wallace Beverley Wallace on Feb 24, 2016
    What about worms or bugs? How do you keep them from eating your plants? Sorry if the questions are bad, I live in Las Vegas,NV. and want to try to grow my own tomato's. Sure could use some great advise. Thanks for your help.

  • Dawn Dake Dawn Dake on Feb 24, 2016
    What size trash basket was that?

  • Gini Gini on Feb 27, 2016
    What do the tomatoes taste like? Have they had a chance to develop the taste and sweetness if they have grown at such a rate?

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Feb 27, 2016
      it depends on the variety.. these were an heirloom which is the only variety I grow so they had the old fashioned flavor

  • Cindy Motto Cindy Motto on Feb 27, 2016
    What size hole do you drill?

  • Sign Maker Sign Maker on Feb 29, 2016
    James, any problems with the holes getting plugged and if so, how did you solve it? This seems like a terrific idea that I am going to try.

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Feb 29, 2016
      As long as you use finished compost you won't have much problems.. If the compost has large bits of debris or un finished material you might, but it can be remedied by taking a broom and whirling it around the bucket sides to remove any particles that linger in the holes....

  • MelanieF MelanieF on Mar 04, 2016
    Do you have problems with mosquitos breeding in the can or do you cover it?

  • Deb Deb on Mar 07, 2016
    About what size of garbage can did you use? ( I can't tell from the pictures.)

  • Paula Paula on Mar 08, 2016
    What type of garbage can? Plastic or aluminum?

  • Sarah Sarah on Mar 10, 2016
    Do you have any cage building tips? How deep did you plant the wire and what is the diameter of the cage?

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Mar 11, 2016
      e cage in the photo was 4 ft which takes 13 ft of wire.... You can use a cattle panel system by buying 2 panels at tractor supply... place one panel in back plant your tomatoes in front with a 5 gallon bucket between two plants and then place the second panel in front sandwiching the plants in between _______________________________panel Pl Bk PL Pl Bk Pl Pl Bk P _______________________________Panel

  • Theresa Shearer Theresa Shearer on Mar 12, 2016
    Beautiful blooms! Any other ideas for vegetable containers...spinach, lettuce, green onions?

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Mar 12, 2016
      Try 2 litter bottles piercing lid and a few holes along the sides buried a couple inches deep for your greens and onions... this method can be adapted for other things like squash, peppers, eggplants etc..

  • Tami Chrisman Tami Chrisman on Mar 12, 2016
    What type of soil are you working with? I have clay. Worked with sandy loom all my life, the clay has me beat. I either flood the garden or choke it out. What advise can anyone give me. I only plant several varieties of tomatoes and bell peppers.

    • Kristin O'Neal Kristin O'Neal on Mar 12, 2016
      I have clay soil too, my soil was a mix of red clay and decent soil...either way it didn't drain well... you can buy "top soil" or compost by the scoop at some places. (Like a mulch co. Or local evergreen center) I recommend compost....I tilled my whole garden with compost, mixed it with the clay, and my garden did REALLY good last year! If yours is nothing but red clay, then I would recommend both "top soil" and compost. The top soil is decent soil and it has some rocks in it, mix this with your clay soil and the compost (I used manure compost but mushroom compost would work just as well from what I hear) and you'll have a great mix of soil to start your garden!!! The top soil will mix with clay and the clay will cooperate better, the rocks will help ALOT with drainage so no more flooding your veggies/flowers out! AND the compost will give your garden some delicious nutrients that they'll love you for!! :-) haha I hope this helps!!

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Mar 12, 2016
      Clay can make or break a garden... when it is dry it cracks and takes a lot of water to break it up, then if too wet is like a slurry... add organic matter in the form of straw etc plus compost to "lighten the soil" it will take time but clay soil can be very fruitful for the home garden

    • Jill Buckalew Jill Buckalew on Mar 12, 2016
      Read up on lasagna gardening. The layers of shredded newspapers,leaves, grass, along with the compost will decompose into rich dark soil. Had a great garden the 1st year I tried this and it just gets better as I layer it up every fall.

    • Lorraine Aha Lorraine Aha on Mar 13, 2016
      We live atop clay as well. It took me years to get my soil to where it is productive, and I have to do regular composting or it goes back to the baking and cracking. In addition to composts, clay conditioners such as Zeolite are helpful, too.

    • Larissa Sneider Larissa Sneider on Mar 13, 2016
      Test your soil for the PH level. I live in the mountains and the soil is very hard and alkaline. I add amendments like compost, peat and sulfur. My used coffee grounds also help the ph level. I have to keep adding amendments every year but the soil is getting better each year. Check with your county extension office. Take a soil sample in and they can give you the best solutions.

    • Char Jenkins Char Jenkins on Mar 13, 2016
      also found that just mulching keeps the top layer moist and it does not get cracky. But most important for this problem is to not work the soil when it's too wet. I'm surprised no one has mentioned it. I also mulch with newspaper and grass clippings when i do not have other mulch as it is time consuming. Straw is easier but so is grass, which breaks down quickly and not as long lasting. Use all that is available, starting with what is less expensive in your area. Just keep the top layer covered to keep it from drying out (except of course where the seeds/plants are. LOL)

    • Cher Kalil Cher Kalil on Mar 14, 2016
      If you're striving for chemical free gardening only use lawn clippings over newspaper as mulch IF you don't add chemicals (i.e.: Scotts, Grub Control) to your lawn. The lawn chemicals will leach into your garden soil as it breaks down. Your garden plants will absorb it into the entire plant, including the edible fruit!

  • Kathy Kathy on Mar 12, 2016
    What variety of tomat plant did you use?

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Mar 12, 2016
      I used a determinate that year... can't remember the exact variety Mt Fresh is a good variety in the determinate family

    • Lisa Falkenthal Lisa Falkenthal on Mar 13, 2016
      If you want an indeterminate (one that grows all summer) ask a local garden store ( not a big box store) what a good variety for your area is, they differ greatly by region.

  • Wendy Wendy on Mar 12, 2016
    What size holes did you drill in the can? Also, how high did you make the fence circle and what is the diameter? Thank you for answering these questions for me.

  • Pat Schultz Pat Schultz on Mar 12, 2016
    have new store bought cages. how many plants can I put in one?

  • Beth Rossignol Beth Rossignol on Mar 12, 2016
    Would this work instead of the cattle panels?

    • FarmMomSD FarmMomSD on Mar 12, 2016
      Yes,I think it would,may have cut for diameter

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Mar 13, 2016
      Yes, but for the average gardener you will have problems getting the tomatoes out.. This is what I first used I am 6'4" and could easily reach into the wire from the top... try to find a wire with a larger opening and add plenty of stakes to help hold it up... trust me you will need stakes as well due to the heavy production of the plants

  • Jackie Jackie on Mar 13, 2016
    What did you use for the compost?

  • Connie Connie on Mar 13, 2016
    Would this work with cantaloupe?

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Mar 13, 2016
      @Connie use a 5 gallon bucket and 2 sets of holes one at bottom rim and other up about three inches only bury bucket to 2.5" as cantaloupes roots are shallower than tomatoes

    • Venita murphy Venita murphy on Mar 13, 2016
      I know this may sound silly, but what is the best compost to use, I think they look great & getting ready to plant, my last 2yrs have not done well as previous have

  • Bambi Bambi on Mar 13, 2016
    What size garbage can?

    • Carol S Carol S on Mar 13, 2016
      I also wondered that! In the photo it looks like what I call a waste basket. To me, a garbage can is like 30-33 gallons. I'd like to have this answered.

    • Neva Gleason Neva Gleason on Mar 13, 2016
      A waste basket

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Mar 13, 2016
      13 gallon or use 5 gallon bucket for 2 plants

    • Bambi Bambi on Mar 13, 2016

    • Beth Rossignol Beth Rossignol on Mar 14, 2016
      I plan on using my square shaped trash can. Will this be ok? I can not find a cylindrical 13 gallon trash can.

    • Debi Debi on Mar 14, 2016
      I don't think the shape is an issue here. What its basically doing is creating a compost tea, so the shape is negligible. Use a square or round can Is fine,

  • JB JB on Mar 13, 2016
    Is there enough air circulation between the plants.? The idea sounds great but the plants look a little crowded together...Thanks

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Mar 13, 2016
      There was plenty of air circulation.. did not run into blight or any fungus for that matter as I kept as much water off the leaves (except rain) then sprayed copper as a preventative after rain

    • Nita Harrison Nita Harrison on Mar 13, 2016
      What does spraying copper mean?

    • Shuesler Shuesler on Mar 13, 2016
      Tomatoes are susceptible to a variety of pests and fungal diseases that ruin a harvest if left untreated. Copper sulfate, a readily available fungicide and bactericide, prevents many fungal diseases from developing on tomato plants. When mixed with water, copper sulfate releases ions that are toxic to fungi but relatively safe for the treated plants. Apply copper sulfate early in the growing season to avoid losing tomatoes to an unexpected disease.

    • Lov2210885 Lov2210885 on Mar 13, 2016
      Although it's safe, it's still a pesticide right?

    • Cher Kalil Cher Kalil on Mar 14, 2016
      It's a fungicide. No offense to the commenter but I'd prefer to use one bucket of compost per plant and space them further apart to eliminate the use of conventional chemicals. Simply avoid watering leaves and use a mulch around the plant to reduce the chance of fungus spores splashing up from the soil.

    • Judy Hearne Judy Hearne on Mar 14, 2016
      I've read that you can also put small pieces of copper in the surrounding soul to deter insects/slugs, etc. I wonder if you could put small prices in the compost rather than spray w/the copper sulfate?

    • Judy Hearne Judy Hearne on Mar 14, 2016
      Soil, not soul - sorry!

  • Sam Mcgee Sam Mcgee on Mar 13, 2016
    Im a little confused. Holes in bottom rim? Do you mean bottom?

    • Laura Huff Laura Huff on Mar 14, 2016
      I would think it should be on the sides, near the bottom so the water can flow out to the surrounding plants.

  • Karen Karen on Mar 13, 2016
    How big are the holes drilled in the garbage can? Size of a dime, quarter?

  • Gina Franklin Gina Franklin on Mar 13, 2016
    We just got moved and I have not gotten my compost started. Is there anything else I can use? Or is there a quick way to get the compost ready quickly?

    • Joan Joan on Mar 14, 2016
      Coffe shops put out grounds, put it right in soil, dig shallow trench next to rows of veggies, put in daily eggshells, veg. & fruit scraps & cover with soil. The summer heat will help break it dos quickly, worms & insects will help too.

    • Audrey Brow Stapleford Audrey Brow Stapleford on Mar 14, 2016
      A Farmer's Exchange store usually sells compost starter mix also try a bait shoppe and ask for red wigglers to add to your compost. Check out a Tractor Supply store they may or may not sell compost starter.

  • Lynn Lynn on Mar 14, 2016
    about how many holes do you drill?? I'm definitely going to do this

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Mar 14, 2016
      for each plant 3 sets of holes bottom edge 3 holes up 4 inches 5 to 6 holes up 4 more and 5 to 6 holes each spaces about an inch apart.. use 1/4 inch drill bit

  • Angela Angela on Mar 14, 2016
    It looks as if as the plants grow it becomes extremely difficult to reach the bucket without either the risk of damaging the plants or coming out smelling like a tomato plant. I am very short and disabled so any suggestions on avoiding either are welcome.

    • Vikki T Vikki T on Mar 14, 2016
      How about adding a trough or something similar at the same time as the planting. Then you could put a hose to the trough and water them that way.

    • Brenda Brenda on May 29, 2016
      They also sell a watering tube at Christmas time that helps you water your Christmas tree. It sounds as though it could be useful for when your plants become so full and you could place the bottom of the tube into the bucket and put your hose at the other end to fill it. Maybe try a Pvc pipe?

  • Angela Angela on Mar 14, 2016
    It looks as if as the plants grow it becomes extremely difficult to reach the bucket without either the risk of damaging the plants or coming out smelling like a tomato plant. I am very short and disabled so any suggestions on avoiding either are welcome.

    • Debi Debi on Mar 14, 2016
      Try something like a piece of pvc pipe tied to the outside of the frame, through one of the squares, laying at an angle down to the inside of the bucket. That way you can use a hose to fill the bucket and if the pipe is inside the mouth of the bucket, then the pipe will also fill. That way you will know when to stop topping it up with water. Let me know how you go. 🙃 Good luck.

    • Beth Rossignol Beth Rossignol on Mar 19, 2016
      Debi I love that idea!!!! I think it would be good for everyone to use.

    • Carol in VT Carol in VT on Apr 20, 2016
      This was a great additional idea to his plan. With such thick plants there is no way to see inside if the bucket needs water. Your PVC idea is perfect. I am going to try this year.

  • Anne Marie Anne Marie on Mar 14, 2016
    Great idea, thank you, I will use this method for my tomatoes this year. Just one question - if the tomatoes are planted in the earth around the outside the bin, why did you put some compost in the bin?

  • Dorcas baldwin Dorcas baldwin on Mar 15, 2016
    instead of garbage cans could you do the same thing with coffee cans?

  • Bka2196948 Bka2196948 on Mar 15, 2016
    What did you use to plant your tomatoes? Mine are never healthy plants

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Mar 15, 2016
      You have to start with healthy plants, soil and good warm weather... too many plant tomatoes to

  • Pamela Harley Thompaon Pamela Harley Thompaon on Mar 15, 2016
    I don't see any tomatoes or blooms in your final picture. From what I understand about growing tomatoes; it looks like at least half the plant is not getting enough light. Do you prune it?

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Mar 15, 2016
      Determinate varieties are only pruned to the first blossom bracket... these produced over100 lbs of fruit

  • Karen Anastasia Karen Anastasia on Mar 15, 2016
    How big are the holes you drilled and how many? All the way around the can?

  • Dotty Parsons Dotty Parsons on Mar 15, 2016
    How big are the holes..?

  • Carmen Carmen on Mar 16, 2016
    What kind of compost did you use?

  • Pat Bowman Pat Bowman on Mar 16, 2016
    What keeps the water from going straight thru?

    • Jackie Jackie on Mar 19, 2016
      The water drains slowly because there are holes in the bucket, made with a drill, you could use a nail and a hammer though.

    • Karen Talman Freiert Karen Talman Freiert on Apr 09, 2016
      I tried this last year and could never get the buckets full. The water kept running out. It watered them though.

    • Lorna M Lorna M on Apr 20, 2016
      The compost in the bucket slows the water down as it drains

  • Doreen Tuell Doreen Tuell on Mar 16, 2016
    What are "blossom brackets"? This was in a question about pruning that you answered.

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Mar 17, 2016
      The branch with the first set of blossoms... Determinate plants are only pruned beneath this set of brackets

  • Susan crone Susan crone on Mar 19, 2016
    What size garbage can?

  • Tatjana Lijić Tatjana Lijić on Mar 20, 2016
    Sorry,I didn't understand due to my lack of knowing of English. Where did you put the compost in? Into the bucket,or around it and the plants..thank you !

  • Joan Berry-Warder Joan Berry-Warder on Mar 21, 2016
    What is the advantage of putting the plants INSIDE the cage. It will be difficult to pick the tomatoes between the wires of the cage.

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Mar 22, 2016
      It supports the plants.... a thousand comments back I recommended a larger hole size on the wire and have since adapted using cattle panels 60" x 16' for support sandwiching the plants between 2

  • Julie Jeff Novak Julie Jeff Novak on Mar 25, 2016
    I did this last year and had a great crop, but a horrible problem with slugs that ruined over half my crop. Any suggestions? I used a 5 gallon pail and 2 indeterminate plants.

  • Susan Pierce Susan Pierce on Mar 26, 2016
    How many holes in a 5gal bucket on bottom & sides? How big are the holes?

  • Melinda Bourne Melinda Bourne on Mar 29, 2016
    By compost do you mean the potato peels, coffee grounds, etc. or the material after all that stuff decomposes? Sorry, but I'm not much of a gardener.

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Mar 30, 2016
      Yes, but store bought compost will do as well even commercial fertilizers, but the compost you can make is best

    • Pennyless Pennyless on Apr 06, 2016
      I understood the question to you mean this or that? And how do you answer that with "yes"?

    • Lorna M Lorna M on Apr 20, 2016
      It's best to use the compost material you get after. You don't want to draw pests or rodents to you plants by putting rotting food in them. If you don't have any you can buy bags of composted manure and it works great!

  • Sign Maker Sign Maker on Mar 30, 2016
    James, it seems you get a lot questions about the holes in the water container. Would it help if you posted a picture of what you actually do? thx

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Mar 31, 2016
      I have videos and info on my facebook page... and I still get the questions LOL... my old computer crashed that has the photos and I am moving at this time to a smaller homestead property but plan on taking photos of the five gallon bucket, the cattle panel system and doing a video about composting as well once I get moved to the other place...

    • Laura Cagle Laura Cagle on Jun 21, 2016
      Put coffee filters in the bottom of your bucket and the dirt won't go thru and clog it up.

  • Jan5091999 Jan5091999 on Mar 31, 2016
    What size tomato cage do I use &what is width of the Pail?

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Mar 31, 2016
      The pail was a 13 gallon trash can.... and the cage was a piece of wire approx. 13 feet in length that makes a 4 ft circle... but you will find you would be better served using 5 gallon buckets for 2 plants and using stakes or traditional cages... but if you plant multiple plants consider investing in 2 cattle fence panels 16 ft long by 5 ft high and place a bucket between each grouping of tomatoes and place one panel behind the planting and another in front using stakes to hold it up.. much easier to harvest and the panels will last for years they are available at most farm supply stores like tractor supply etc

  • Brandy David Langridge Brandy David Langridge on Mar 31, 2016
    Just put the tomatoes in the ground and they grow into tomatoes trees.

    • James Bryan C James Bryan C on Mar 31, 2016
      I had a gentleman from California sent a photo of him standing on top of a 8 ft ladder to reach the tops of his plants Indeterminate tomatoes will grow to massive lengths in the greenhouses

  • Barbara Shipman Beebe Barbara Shipman Beebe on Apr 01, 2016
    What do you do if the tomatoes are bigger that the holes in the cage?

  • MRomero MRomero on Apr 06, 2016
    Hi! We're excited about trying this method. What size holes did you drill in the trash can and how many holes? Thank you for this great idea!

  • Ieh5492209 Ieh5492209 on Apr 06, 2016
    Thats what needs to be answered. How big and how far apart are the holes? We know holes are on the bottom and so are the holes 10" up from the bottom but how m,any go around the circumference of the five gallon bucket?

  • Ten4380265 Ten4380265 on Apr 07, 2016
    Give the size drill many holes around and how far apart...seems you wouldnt want the holes too large, it would lose water too the same time too small would be plugged up by the compost. What size did this creater use?

    • Lorna M Lorna M on Apr 20, 2016
      I used a dril bit the size of the tip of my little finger (womans) and spaced mine every inch (4 or 5) on three sides of the pot. I use the nursery pots that have the big holes for drainage. I buried mine up to the neck. Fill the pot to the top and the water will steep for a bit as it slowly drains out by the roots taking nutrients with it. The holes don't really plug up. They just slow it down draining out.

  • Theresa Shearer Theresa Shearer on Apr 08, 2016
    Would anyone have suggestions how to rid slugs from my lawn?

    • Dianeg1234 Dianeg1234 on May 07, 2016
      Vinegar in a spray bottle. Salt is also effective. Careful not to spray or sprinkle healthy plants.

    • Brenda Brenda on May 29, 2016
      You can also put little containers of cheap beer out by the areas they infest and they will be attracted To those instead of your plants

    • Epsom salt. Just a light sprinkle, like you would do for a weed and feed, run the sprinklers for 2 minutes. Or a light water by hand just to wet down the epsom salt.

  • Lisa O. Lisa O. on Apr 08, 2016
    When using the container in the ground for watering your tomatoes how do you water the rest of your garden and not get the tomatoes leaves wet. Typically we water our garden with a sprinkler. Do you cover the tomatoes plants when using a sprinkler? I prefer not to stand out and water the garden by hand.

    • Karen Wilson Carver Karen Wilson Carver on Apr 18, 2016
      You use much less water if you invest in some soaker hoses. When you use sprinklers much of your water is lost to evaporation, or to parts of your garden or yard that doesn't need water. Once you have soaker hoses in place, you just have to hook them up to a regular hose and walk away. Your water is concentrated in the root area of the plant and won't be on the leaves. Keep checking the soil until you know how much time it takes to reach the depth of a good inch or two and then you'll know how much time it takes before you need to turn off the water.

  • Kathy Workman Kathy Workman on Apr 08, 2016
    How easy is it to pick the ripe fruit inside the cage?

    • J J on Apr 20, 2016
      Did you get an answer on this? What kind of website is this, you ask questions and there is no answer?

    • Lorna M Lorna M on Apr 20, 2016
      Make a cage out of fencing with bigger holes.

  • Paramedic Paramedic on Apr 09, 2016
    Can this idea work with any other vegetable plants?

  • Lin Piper-Wickham Lin Piper-Wickham on Apr 09, 2016
    Measurement of the cage?