Tomato Plant Pots – Recipe for Success

My friend Deb, who shares lots of great recipes with me (and you’ve seen many of them here), told me how she grew tomatoes successfully last year inside 5-gallon buckets.

Since horn-worms get mine every year when they’re in the ground, I’m doing this!

Tomato Plant DIY - Recipe for Success! @

Deb grew her tomatoes in five of these pots last year.  They have a large family and had plenty of tomatoes for everyone and more to share with others.

I’m not joking about a recipe for success.

Tomato Plant Recipe for Success

At the end of this post, you’ll find a printable recipe for your tomato plant success.

Step One:

Drill a few large holes in the bottom of your 5-gallon bucket.

Tomato Plant Recipe for Success

Step Two:  The Layering

First layer – pine cones.

Tomato Plant Recipe for Success

Second layer – potting soil just to cover the pine cone layer.

Tomato Plant Recipe for Success

Third layer – the recipe ingredients.

Tomato Plant Recipe for Success

Fourth layer – potting soil to top, two or three inches below rim.  (And, you MUST have an assistant like Sir Winston around.  Ha!)

Tomato Plant Recipe for Success

Step Three: Time to Plant!

Plant your tomato plant(s) and tie to tomato cage.  My plants came in a six-pack, so I planted three per pot with the idea of keeping the healthiest one after a week or so.  (Probably not necessary, but I find it hard to throw away plants!)

Set in a sunny spot that’s protected from late afternoon sun (my addition to the recipe).

Water until water runs through every other day. Once a week, add one scoop of Miracle Grow.

Water until water runs through every other day. Once a week, add one scoop of Miracle Grow.

Tomato Plant Recipe for Success

Spray weekly with water and dish-washing liquid mixture (Joy or Dawn recommended).

Yes, you can have the recipe!  🙂

Tomato Plant Pots - Recipe for Success
A gardening success recipe for growing garden-fresh tomatoes.
Recipe type: Garden
  • Better Boy plants
  • 5 gal. pots with tomato cage (one per plant)
  • Pine cones (8-10 per pot, depending on size of pine cones)
  • Miracle Gro Potting Soil
  • Handful of lime
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • Handful of oatmeal
  • 1 Tablespoon Epsom salt
  • 5 Rolaid tablets
  • 1 scoop of Miracle Gro fertilizer per week
  • water (of course!)
  • water/dish liquid spray (5 Tablespoons dish soap to 1 gal. water)
  1. Drill 4-5 large holes in bottom of 5-gal. bucket.
  2. Place one layer of pine cones in the bottom and cover with potting soil - to just above the pine cones.
  3. Place the lime, sugar, oatmeal, salt, and Rolaid tablets over the soil and then fill the pot to 2-3 inches from the top with potting mix.
  4. Plant tomatoes (one per pot) and water well every other day - until water drains through.
  5. Add fertilizer once a week.
  6. Spray with water/dish liquid solution once a week.

If you have trouble with deer or squirrels, check out this website for other things you can add to your home-made insecticidal spray, along with the dish liquid.

Happy tomato planting (and growing and eating)!

125 px Signature


  1. Libba says

    I like your and Deb’s recipe . Think I’ll try it. One other suggestion I would offer, one that I always use. When planting tomato plants, especially in an outside garden. Get some large Solo cups and cut the bottom out of them. Set one over each plant, being sure the bottom edge is in the ground. Don’t let the plants be touching each other. Tomato worms cannot crawl up the slick cup, especially when they have to go at an angle.

  2. Robin says

    You are right on time with THIS one! Thanks! I am going to check out the website you provided….so I can keep those pesky deer from “visiting” my veggie garden!

    We are doing ALL organic veggies this year, and I do not want any messed up.

    And I just happen to have an “assistant” like Sir Winston…ready and EAGER to help! HA!

    Q is feeling MUCH better. He’s taking an antibiotic. I had to split the pill in half and give him half 2x a day instead of the full pill once a day…it was making him lose his appetite. I can’t take those “once a day” drugs either….they are too strong and upset my stomach.

    Yesterday was my birthday. I’m on the other side of 50 now. EEK! I got out my massage mat and laid it on the couch and was enjoying a nice (and needed) back massage. I have not had that thing out in many years. Well, SOMEBODY was freaked out by it and was biting at it and trying to dig under it and would not stop barking. Darn dog. Way to ruin my b-day massage. Sheesh! Maybe the sound of it bothered him. I will ask the vet. Now I have to do my massage after the “kiddos” go to bed. Figures. LOL

    • says

      Happy birthday and welcome to this “other” side of 50! It’s not so bad. Organic gardening – an ambitious venture. I hope you have great results with it! Glad Q is better. Can you give him a pill for the massage mat issue? Ha! Happy Mother’s Day weekend!

  3. says

    Kim, we grow tomatoes in the ground every year, but I have to admit this is quite interesting with the pine cones, oatmeal, and rolaids! I am going to show this to the hubs! Wishing you much success with your tomatoes…keep us posted! Happy Mother’s Day!
    Pam Richardson recently posted…Pam-perings: 10 Gifts For MomMy Profile

    • says

      How I would love to come and tour your garden! I’ll bet it’s beautiful, and gives you lots of delicious veggies. I will keep you posted on these tomato plants, for sure. Happy Mother’s Day weekend! 🙂

  4. Linda says

    Hello Kim,

    What an intriguing soil recipe the two of you created and I am going to try it this year against my style. in my 55 day growing season. I have one question that you may hopefully already know. How do you make sure that you rotate your pots so you don’t plant tomatoes in the same buckets every year?? Lots of buckets???? Hopefully, you are relaxing and enjoying a very Happy Mother’s Day like a Queen or the very least, a grand dame, and NOT answering us today, lol.

    Linda in Northern Ontario

    • says

      Thanks, Linda. I can’t take credit for the recipe part, but I know that here at my house, any plants left in the late afternoon sun really suffer. It has been a relaxing Mother’s Day after having family visiting and fun family times this weekend. Today is our “rest up” for the week ahead…nothing new, really. A very Happy Mother’s Day to you, too!

    • says

      Yes, the soap/water mixture is to prevent bugs. I wish you great success with your tomatoes this summer! 🙂

    • says

      Hi, Darlene. Lime is a powdery crushed rock that helps cut acidity in the soil. You can purchase it by the bag at Lowe’s or Home Depot. Good luck with your tomatoes! 🙂

    • says

      Hi, Kay. Sorry, but I have no information about growing lemons. I’ll write a post if I happen to run across something fabulous. Deal? 🙂