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Bonnie's Tomato Bucket

Materials:
1 large plastic bucket with lid
some rope or chain for hanging the bucket
a knife or saw that will cut the bucket
a sheet of heavy plastic
scissors
five tomato plants well started (she likes Bonnie's Best, a foot tall or more)
enough good soil to fill the bucket
a hook or nail from a rafter on the sunny south side of a building


Bonnie says she likes this method because it keeps the tomatoes off the ground without any need for stakes or string. She says the roots are resistant to cold being inside a plastic bucket in the sun. She gets more and larger fruit than she does from the same type of plants in the ground. This method appeals to me because I live in an upstairs apartment, and can have the plants outside my window this way. I can also take them with me if I move, though it might be awkward.

Bonnie's Method:

First set up your bucket so you can hang it up from a rafter. Bonnie uses three chains to the top edges of the bucket. She likes to set it up so the lid can be on the bucket while it is hanging.

Next, cut holes in the bucket and in the lid. The holes should be a couple inches across and more or less round. They are located as follows: one in the center of the bottom of the bucket. Four on the sides of the bucket, spaced high and low to give the plants room. Three or four holes in the top of the bucket, for watering and air.

Next, cut five circles of plastic large enough that they will easily cover the holes you've cut in the bucket, and overlap edges by at least 1 inch. Cut a slit in the plastic discs that goes from one edge to the center of the circle.

Hang your bucket somewhere easy to reach, to put it together.

Take your first tomato plant and work the soil off the roots until you can fit the root ball through the hole in the bottom of the bucket, with the plant sticking out the bottom of the bucket. Place a plastic disc over the hole, with the slit in the plastic fit around the stem of the plant. The sheet plastic is to keep soil from leaking out. Being nice to the roots, begin filling the bucket with soil, up to the bottom of the next lowest hole. Insert the next plant's root ball, place the plastic disc around the stem at the hole, and fill with more soil. Repeat until all the plants are inserted.

Hang the bucket in a sunny location on the side of a building. Water weekly. Enjoy plants that cascade but do not reach the ground, and a rich harvest, without need for a garden plot.

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
neptunia67
Apr. 18th, 2009 04:59 pm (UTC)
If I understand correctly - you have five tomato plants - one hanging upside down out the bottom of the bucket, and four hanging out of holes in the sides of the bucket? And the lid is on the bucket but has holes cut into it.

Will you take a picture when you set this up? I'm intrigued. I want enough tomatoes for canning. We tried growing upright in a plastic bucket last year, no results.
liveonearth
Apr. 18th, 2009 06:23 pm (UTC)
If I get to set it up, I'll post pix. Suzanne doesn't like the idea.
neptunia67
Apr. 18th, 2009 10:00 pm (UTC)
Why does she care? It's worth an experiment, no?
labyris
Apr. 18th, 2009 07:18 pm (UTC)
Does she use the thick five gallon buckets? They are pretty thick and I imagine cutting holes in it could be a challenge. And are the tomatoes really called Bonnie's Best? I will look for them, but I have not heard of them. I plan to do this so anymore particulars that you want to share I will appreciate!
labyris
Apr. 18th, 2009 09:51 pm (UTC)
I found Bonny's Best organically grown about 15" tall at Fred Meyer! I did not buy them because I am still befuddled about how to cut round holes in the sides of a lidded plastic bucket. I guess I could use a drill to get the holes started . . . They also had lidded plastic buckets there for a reasonable price, a little over $5.
neptunia67
Apr. 18th, 2009 10:01 pm (UTC)
If you have a drill, you can get a hole saw from a hardware store, you will find them in the drill bit section. That should make it reasonably easy to cut the holes.
labyris
Apr. 18th, 2009 10:03 pm (UTC)
Is the hole saw something that fits on the drill like a drill bit? That would work really well, I think.
neptunia67
Apr. 18th, 2009 10:06 pm (UTC)
Yep, exactly! See?
liveonearth
Apr. 18th, 2009 10:06 pm (UTC)
Cool! I don't know how Bonnie cuts the holes but Neptunia's drill idea is a good one. I was thinking about cutting squares instead of round holes, just using a knife. You've got the right kind of bucket in mind. I think they're 5 gallon.
labyris
Apr. 19th, 2009 12:30 am (UTC)
If you are able to get a knife through the thickness of a five gallon bucket and make a 2 inch diameter hole, I will be very impressed!
liveonearth
Apr. 19th, 2009 02:51 am (UTC)
Hey I found my notes and Bonnie specifically said that the holes in the bucket should be 3/4". So the drill "holer" sounds like the right tool. Wonder what a 3/4" holepunch bit costs? Let me know if you go find one. I think Suzanne may have one but she's still resisting the tomato bucket idea.
(Anonymous)
May. 2nd, 2009 09:52 pm (UTC)
tomato bucket
This tomato bucket idea sounds very similar to the Topsy Turvey tomato planter that is advertised on tv. If you go to the web site you can see how it works and this idea sounds similar only would be much cheaper. While you are describing drilling various holes on the sides (similar to a strawberry jar planter) I think you could just drill one hole in the bottom and stick the roots in the hole so they are inside the bucket then fill w/soil. The holes in the lid would allow for watering. I think the variety of tomato plants you are referring to comes from a company called Bonnie Plants. The website is www.bonnieplants.com. I bought some of their tomato plants at my local farm store today. Hope my two-cents worth is helpful! :)
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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