Bucket Tomatoes VS Trench Tomatoes

Bucket Tomato Next to Trench Tomato
I can’t see a difference. Can you see a difference?

I have a sneaking suspicion that I will be finishing things up with my bucket tomatoes sometime over the next couple weeks, so I think it might not be a bad idea to write some posts about about them, and just generally about my tomato growing this season (should have a hanging tomato update for tomorrow).

I apologize for the ugly slab-o-cardboard in the picture above, but unfortunately it’s a real challenge to capture the outline of vegetation in my backyard jungle – it all blends together!

I’ve reached some conclusions about the use of hybrid (composting/garden) systems – at least as far as tomatoes are concerned. The smaller the system, the smaller the plant is going to end up! And yes, I feel pretty darn sharp sharing that little pearl of wisdom!

OK, so perhaps that was a pretty obvious expectation! Haha
What I didn’t expect though, is just how much of a difference it can make when you provide the tomato roots with room to spread out! The plants in the first picture are both of the “Tomatoberry” variety, yet one is many times the size of the other one (the big one is as tall as I am). Don’t get me wrong though – I love my little bucket plants too, and have been grazing on the bright red (and oh so sweet!) fruit almost daily since they started ripening a while ago! The huge trench plants are definitely taking longer to produce ripe tomatoes – but when they do, LOOK OUT!

You probably won’t be too surprised to learn that I’ve had loads of fun trying to properly support these trench (and raised bed) plants. In fact, I basically just gave up on most of them (the one pictured above is pretty well the only one that I would consider well supported). You can see below what one of the unsupported plants looks like. This is likely the biggest among them, but as you can see they are certainly taking up quite a lot of space!

Worm Composting Trench Tomato

The success of the tomato plants growing next to (and within) my trench beds definitely has me excited – making me wonder what would be possible if I were actually an experienced (or more accurately a talented) tomato grower. If they were properly supported and pruned, and grown in an organized manner I suspect one could produce a pretty substantial crop (it will be interesting to see how many tomatoes I end up growing as it is!). I have some ideas re: how I can potentially take all this to the next level in future growing seasons. I am a tomato fanatic through and through, so I’m certainly pumped about the fact that they seem to do so well in “vermi-gardening” systems.

Not sure I will bother with the bucket approach next year – or at least not with tomatoes. Like I said, I’ve certainly grown plenty of yummy tomatoes on these plants, but I’ve also found them to be a bit of a hassle (and somewhat unsightly), so it might make more sense to concentrate on doing things properly!
I should mention that the wooden box tomatoes have definitely done quite well (as I think I already mentioned in another post) – certainly far better than the potatoes last year – so there is a reasonably good chance I would try that approach again!

And what about the hanging systems?

Well, you’ll just have to wait until tomorrow to find out!

**Want Even More Fun With Worms? Sign Up for the RWC E-mail List Today!**
Previous Post

Worm Inn Tomato Garden-08-13-10

Next Post

Vermi Lasagna Gardening-08-11-10


    • Stephanie street
    • August 12, 2010

    Try Cherokee purple and brandywine. Both are excellent varieties big, juicy, loads of meat and not overloaded with seeds. I also grew a super boy that was giant!!

    • Bentley
    • August 12, 2010

    Thanks for the tips, Stephanie – next year I definitely want to start growing some heirloom and specialty varieties!
    I harvested two beautiful red beefsteak tomatoes this morning (not sure of the variety) and saw a really big one as well (not quite there yet though).
    I love this time of year! haha

    • Anna
    • August 12, 2010

    If you’re interested in heirlooms, the black krim are the best I’ve ever tasted. Of course, I like pretty much all tomatoes, so I’m sure you can’t go wrong. Do you ever roast them? My husband can eat an ENTIRE pan of roasted tomatoes if I let them cool too long on the counter before freezing, lol.

    On the bucket tomatoes, do you suppose your variety might have played a role in the results here? I’ve heard that some varieties are better suited to patio type plantings than others. I’m guessing root-spread and water needs play into this somehow.

    • Bentley
    • August 13, 2010

    Thanks, Anna – I will definitely have to check those ones out. Once the cold weather hits I will definitely start planning things out for next season (with tomato seed catalogue in hand – haha). What’s funny is that while I have certainly had roasted tomatoes (usually stuffed with rice) this isn’t one of my favorite ways to eat them – I do love fried tomatoes though (green and red)! I suspect that your version of roasted tomatoes would have me acting in a manner similar to your husband though! haha

    Definitely a valid point re: the variety. Some sort of determinate, dwarf “patio” (Tumbler or Tiny Tim maybe?) would have likely worked better. I’m sure it didn’t help that I had so many of them to tend to either. If I had simply concentrated on one bucket tomato and made sure to provide it with as much care/support as possible I’m sure it would have performed better.
    When using inorganic fertilizers (and/or in a greenhouse) I think plants would do perfectly fine in a bucket as well.

    • Anna
    • August 14, 2010

    Sorry to hijack your blog with a recipe, but if my veggie hating husband likes them, I think you might too. They’re really simple to make and freeze well.

    Slice them (you decide how thick), lay them out on a cookie sheet so that they don’t touch each other, brush very, very lightly with olive oil and bake for 2 to 2-1/2 hours at 350°F. (Begin checking to see if they’re done at about 1-1/2 hours. I like mine more chewy than others might.) They’re FABULOUS and can be put on pizza, tossed with pasta, served with roasted garlic, you name it.

    • Paul from Winnipeg
    • August 14, 2010

    Can’t believe the size of your trench tomato plants Bentley. Wow!

    • Bentley
    • August 16, 2010

    ANNA – No need to apologize! I definitely appreciate you sharing the recipe.
    Sounds very tasty!
    PAUL – Yeah, I’m been pretty impressed with their growth. Now hopefully that will translate into a huge abundance of ripe tomatoes as well!

    • Colin
    • October 3, 2010

    looks like your not into pruning your tomato’s …lol

    • jolj
    • January 29, 2011

    I have coffee waste,green coffee beans,roasted beans,ground roasted beans(not brewed) & mostly coffee chaff. Coffee chaff is thin shin like onion skin or red peanut skins. I get these coffee waste in super sacks(bags that are 8′ x 4′ X 4′) about 1200-1500 lbs each. I have about 200 super sacks on a 10 acre lot. I have photos, I can up load, if not on this site then to a email address.
    My question is can I spread the chaff/coffee & put the red worms in it as soon as the chaff cools. It goes though a heat just sitting in the bags in the field.
    I will see about getting a report on what kind of minerals & elements are in the chaff.[img][/img][img][/img]

    • Laina
    • February 20, 2011

    Hi Bentley,

    How many tomatoes did you end up with at the end of the season? I’m planning the make a trench in the middle of the tomato bed this year and was curious. I’ve read that too much nitrogen will cause the plants to put on lots of foliage but little fruit. Thanks!


    • jolj
    • February 21, 2011

    Hi Bentley/Laina
    I have been growing tomatoes in sandy loam soil for 20 years & never had the high nitrogen problem. It is even harder to get this problem if you are an Organic gardener.
    You can balance your soil with Azomite, which has 60 elements in it.
    A soil test will tell you if you have the pH of 6.0 to 7.0 for tomatoes.
    I dare say the pH is more important then how much nitrogen you have in your soil.
    Bentley, jump in any time if I am wrong.
    Now I will go compost my soap box.,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Get Your Free Vermicomposting Guide!

* Join the Red Worm Composting E-Mail List Today *