Bucket Tomatoes

Tomatoes. Nothing seems to rival their ability to get Minnesota gardeners’ attention and spark strong opinions about staking (or not), pruning (or not) and mulching (or not). You get the picture.

At the fervent recommendation of a fellow gardener living near Delano, we chose to plant the majority of our 50-plus tomatoes in five-gallon buckets with bottoms cut out. The thinking here is that you create individual hot houses that protect the young tomato plants from unpredictable cold spells and winds.

 close-up tomato   Bucket tomatoes  

green tomatoes

When planting, we stripped each plant’s lower leaves and buried them deeply in the soil, with only the top leaves showing. Then we added the bottomless bucket. Once a day for two weeks, we watered the plants gently, taking care to not splash water, which can cause disease. The bucket held the water, which soaked into the ground – a slow sip of water that our precious plants seemed to appreciate.

We’ve been pleased with the bucket approach so far. Our plants are large and strong. Many of them are already showing tomatoes. Last week, we started staking them – weaving twine “fencing” around four fence posts placed along each row of plants. (And yes, we did prune sucker leaves.)

What’s your favorite method of planting and caring for your tomatoes? Please share!