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Tomato growing in buckets - page 2 - Burpee Big Girls.

The advantages of starting out with great soil.

6/28/2007
    Sunlight is another reason I decided to plant this year's tomato crop in buckets. Both my front and back yards have large trees that create lots of shade. Sunlight gets through, but only at certain places and at certain times. My back yard, for instance. In the morning the front half of the yard gets full sunlight. As the day progresses and the sun moves laterally across the yard, the front half goes into shade while the back half gets all the sun. No single point in either the front or back gets full sunlight all day long. Buckets initially seemed to be the answer for that too. I mean how hard would it be to move them every day when the sun moves? It would mean moving six buckets twice a day but I wouldn't have to move them far and I probably wouldn't even have to move them every day (on cloudy days and days when it rained I wouldn't have to move them at all), just often enough on sunny days.

    That worked at first. I moved the buckets back and forth for several weeks, chasing the moving sunlight. It wasn't difficult. The hard part for me was remembering to do it every day. Or lots of times I remembered, but just didn't do it. At some point during all this, the tomato plants got too large to move. A friend had suggested that I get a little red wagon to transport the buckets back and forth, or some kind of hand cart that all six buckets could ride on and I could push back and forth as needed. If I'd already had a wagon or a hand cart that would have been a great idea (have you priced children's Red Flyer wagons these days?). Or maybe not. If I'd planted something smaller like carrots or cabbage (radishes and onions come to mind too... pepper plants), a wagon would have been perfect. These Burpee Big Girl tomato plants simply grew too large to continue moving twice a day. Their center of gravity shifted as they grew upward and they got top heavy. When the tomato fruit started forming they got top heavier still. Plus their vines grew out as well as up, getting tangled and interwoven in the vines of the plants beside it. It reached the point finally where I couldn't move the plants at all. Or at least I didn't want to try.

    31.8 pounds. That's what a five gallon bucket full of dirt weighs when it's got a two month old Burpee Big Girl tomato plant growing in it. I was curious so I weighed it.

It became necessary to use a rope support to keep several of the top heavy buckets from tipping over.     Another thing to remember for next year. Make sure the buckets are on completely flat ground. If I can't find a completely flat spot, I'll need to make one. A piece of plywood maybe? It'll kill a patch of grass in the back yard but I'd rather have a season's worth of good home grown tomatoes than a pretty yard. Flat ground and sufficient space between plants to keep them from getting tangled together. If they get all tangled up, they can't be turned 180° to balance the amount of sunlight they get each day. If they can't be turned, they start to lean. A couple of mine leaned far enough that they were in danger of tipping over. The rope support I added corrected that problem nicely (see image above).

7/4/2007
First ripe tomato of the year. Burpee Big girl tomato ripening on the vine.     This little guy ripened very quickly. We've had a lot of rain lately. Most of the state of Kansas has. Parts of south Kansas are under water right now. The Verdigris and Neosho rivers jumped their banks several days ago and remain above flood levels today. All of this rain has meant that I haven't had to check on the tomatoes for the last two days and this one snuck up on me. This tomato turned red in less than 48 hours.

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