How to Grow Perfect Peppers & Tomatoes in a 5 Gallon Bucket

Posted on Apr 8 2015 - 11:26am by UOG
Short on growing space but still yearn for homegrown tomatoes and peppers? Is your garden located on a balcony or terrace and you’re afraid you can’t savor the taste of vine ripened tomatoes or experience the heat of your favorite variety of pepper? Well you can, and all you need is a 5 gallon bucket, nutrient rich soil, a few amendments, water and your favorite variety of heirloom seeds.

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Start by finding a 5 gallon bucket. Make sure it is clean and food grade, meaning there’s never been any nasty chemicals stored or shipped in your container.   Usually you can acquire these by visiting your local bakery or even a trip to the hardware store will lead you to a simple 5-gallon bucket. Generally they can be purchased at your big-box hardware stores for around $2.50.

Once your bucket is clean,  fill it with nutrient rich soil.  If you have your own compost, add some of that. Always use rich organic soil.

DSC_1905 For best results, especially in climates that are a little cooler, try starting your tomato and pepper plants indoors 6-8 weeks before your last average frost date.  Tomatoes and peppers do well with transplanting and rarely experience “shock” once they are moved from their indoor locations out into their permanent home in the garden.

Add your nutrient dense soil into your 5 gallon bucket. Dig a hole deep enough for you to plant your seedlings and then add a small amount of vegetable or tomato plant food at the bottom of each hole.  Give the soil a light water with a watering can.

DSC_1906Place your tomato plant inside the hole and then fill the surrounding area with soil.  Remember that you can bury your tomato plants extra deep, up to their first set of true leaves. This long “stem” that you’re burying into the soil will actually help the tomato plant develop a strong root system. So bury those tomatoes deep! They love it.

Once your tomato and pepper plants have been put into the soil, give the entire bucket a good water.

DSC_1904To help keep weeds down in your container, spread a thin layer of mulch on top of the soil. This will also help keep the soil moist and from drying out too quickly. Because you’re growing in containers, the soil will dry out sooner than if it had been planted directly into the ground, so keep an eye on it. Peppers don’t mind soil that is slightly dryer, once the plant is established but your tomatoes will need regular watering. Too much, or too little watering will result in cracked tomatoes, or blossom end rot, once they have reached maturity.

Tomatoes and peppers both love the sun and the heat.  Keep your buckets in a sunny location.

Try planting companion plants near your buckets such as: marigolds, basil, borage, chives, calendula, and carrots.  Avoid fertilizing with too much nitrogen. This encourages leafy growth instead of flowering…and the flowers are what will produce the fruit. Try time-released fertilizers so that the nutrients wont all be washed away with frequent watering.