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Can You Grow Big Boy Tomatoes In A 5 Gallon Bucket

Big Boy tomatoes are a hefty variety with thick stalks, vines, and heavy fruit. One of the largest tomato varieties, Big Boy tomatoes can grow up to 6 feet tall under inappropriate conditions. Because of their size, many gardeners want to know if Big Boy tomatoes can be grown in a 5 gallon bucket because of their size.  

Big Boy tomatoes can easily be grown in a 5 gallon bucket as with all tomato varieties. Although Big Boy tomatoes are a larger variety, they can grow successfully in containers, but there is potential for a smaller harvest. Regardless, there are benefits to growing tomatoes in containers, and the 5 gallon bucket is known to be the ideal size.  

Read on to learn more about Big Boy tomatoes and container gardening.  

Why Grow Tomatoes In 5 Gallon Buckets

Container gardeners rave about the successes of growing tomatoes in 5 gallon buckets. While the most apparent reason for container gardening is space limitations, there are other advantages. Container gardening is an excellent method for growing tomatoes on porches or patios when yard space is limited. Still, it also creates a space for the tomato to grow, protected from pests and diseases and the annoyance of weeds.  

5 gallon buckets are the perfect size for many tomato varieties to spread their roots wide enough to grow to a hearty size and produce a healthy harvest. Although, in some cases, the harvest from a tomato grown in a 5 gallon bucket versus the ground or a garden bed may seem smaller, the protection from pests and diseases that can also impact a tomato plant’s harvest may balance things out in the end.  

An additional benefit to growing tomatoes in 5 gallon buckets is the distribution of nutrients. Just as the bucket contains the tomato plant, it also helps to contain the nutrients in a more compact area of soil. This can result in more nutrients being absorbed by the roots of the plant and less opportunity for nutrients to evaporate with moisture.  

Disadvantages of Container Gardening With Tomatoes

One of the disadvantages of container gardening with tomatoes can be a less bountiful harvest. While a 5 gallon bucket provides ample space for tomato varieties such as cherries or romas, larger varieties like the Big Boy may produce fewer tomatoes in the 5 gallon bucket than when planted in the earth.  

When grown in a garden bed or patch, Big Boy tomatoes require 3 – 4 feet in all directions and can grow to be 6 feet tall. The root growth needed to support this plant size just isn’t possible in a container. So inevitably, a Big Boy tomato plant will be smaller, with fewer fruit to harvest when grown in a 5 gallon bucket and most other containers.  

Other Types of Growing Containers

There are many types of growing containers available for your at home garden. I am sharing a few options. However, the most critical factor for large plants like tomatoes is the size and depth of the container.

Having a container large enough for the tomato’s roots to have appropriate growing space should always be prioritized over the material or shape of the container.  

Metal Tubs

There are several types of metal troughs or galvanized tubs, all of which can be used for growing tomatoes. These are often containers that are found heading to the dump that can be repurposed for your at home garden.

After cleaning a repurposed metal tub to remove any bacteria or disease that could negatively affect your tomato crop, it is ideal for painting the trough as well. Metal can heat up tremendously in the summer sun, drying out or even scalding your plant’s roots.

Painting the tub a lighter color can help mitigate the sun’s effect on the temperature of the soil and the plant. After taking these steps, a metal tub with appropriate depth is an ideal container for growing tomatoes.  

Terra Cotta Pots

Terra Cotta is an earthly material that is an excellent choice for growing tomatoes. It provides quality circulation for air and sun, so the plant can absorb the most possible nutrients from its environment.

One challenge of terra cotta pots is that purchasing one that is an appropriate size for a tomato plant can be quite pricey. However, if you have the funds for terra cotta in size comparable to the 5 gallon bucket, this is a worthy choice for growing tomato plants.  

Grow Bags

Grow bags are becoming more and more popular with at home gardeners. Grow bags can be made out of plastic for above ground gardening on porches and patios.

There are also biodegradable grow bags that can be used for container gardening or within the garden bed. Grow bags are easier to store than typical growing containers, and they help to maintain consistent moisture and nutrients for your tomato plants, more so than other containers.

Some at home gardeners create DIY grow bags straight from bags of soil bought from their garden center. This is an ideal hack for growing tomatoes when limited funds and space.

Supporting Tomatoes Grown in Containers

Growing tomatoes in containers still require a support system. While there are several ways to create tomato supports in the garden patch or bed, the best options are to use stakes or tomato cages in a pot.  

Cages

Tomato cages are often more effective with container gardening than when used for tomatoes growing directly from the earth. Because tomatoes grown in containers don’t often grow to the size of those plants grown out of the earth, a tomato cage can better contain the vines in its circular grid.

However, a tomato cage will still be less effective in supporting the weight of Big Boy tomatoes than those of smaller varieties when grown in containers. While tomato cages can be DIY made at home, typically, home gardeners choose the convenience of purchasing them at local garden centers.  

Stakes

Stakes are the most effective support system for those larger tomato varieties like Big Boys. Stakes provide the freedom to tie on heavy stalks and vines at the level and frequency needed to support the plant and its harvest. Stakes can be purchased at garden centers, as with tomato cages, but stakes are also easily made out of scrap lumber or fallen branches at home.

Final Tips & Benefits Of Growing Tomatoes in Containers

Some steps are always necessary regardless of the type of container you choose to grow your tomato plants in. Never grow more than one tomato plant in a container that is at or around the size of the 5 gallon bucket. It is easy to get excited when planting seeds or transplants and feel the urge to put more than one plant in your container, but in the case of pots and buckets, this is most likely a decision you will regret.  

Ensuring that your container has holes for water to escape to avoid overwatering your tomato plant is vital. If your container doesn’t have appropriate drainage, your harvest may be negatively affected, or in worst case situations, the plant may drown.

Because it’s essential to allow for drainage with container gardening, your plants may also need to be watered more frequently as there is less space and soil to hold the water.  

Once you’ve decided on the container you’d like to use for growing tomatoes in your garden; it’s most important to research the container and specific growing tips for what you’ve selected. Following the information and experiences of expert container gardeners will most likely result in a bountiful tomato harvest.