Vegetable Patch: Garbage Can Tomatoes
by Nellie Neal
heard the tales and they’re true: you can grow more tomatoes than you
can eat in a thirty-gallon plastic garbage can. Thanks to more than
twenty-five years of exhaustive (and tasty) research by garden writer Jim
Wilson, you can share the method that has delivered upwards of sixty
pounds of fruit in one season from two plants.
Pick a sunny
spot near water and set the container up on four bricks. Mix a loose,
soilless potting media to avoid the soil-borne diseases that plague
tomatoes. Use pine bark, peat moss, and perlite in a 2:1:1 ratio and add
eight ounces of pelletized dolomitic limestone for thirty gallons of mix
to minimize blossom end rot. Also add a slow release fertilizer.
holes in the bottom of the garbage can, fill it with your mix or a bagged
potting soil to within two inches of the top, and plant two
disease-resistant varieties such as Celebrity or Better Boy. Water well.
Cut a piece of
eight-foot tall steel reinforcing wire long enough to go around the pot
plus six inches. Stand the wire on the ground around the pot to make a
cage. Then secure the cage to itself with wire. Finally drive two steel
posts into the ground on opposite sides of the pot. Wire the cage to the
for rapid growth. Do not prune the plant, but tuck in the stems that try
to escape the cage. Water the mix, but not the leaves for best results.
Always water so water comes out the drain of the pot, and repeat when the
soil surface begins to feel dry. When the plant begins to make fruit, you
may have to water daily. Such a small price to pay for bountiful tomatoes!