James Bryan had a bright idea that resulted in something brilliant. Gardeners and repurposing fanatics behold, keyhole garden, meets tomato cage, meets drip irrigation. The setup is obviously simple yet highly functional and effective. You can whip one of these up for next to nothing, especially if you salvage the fencing.
James Bryan’s System
I started may 28th planting 4 tomatoes around a garbage can with holes drilled in the bottom rim and a second row up about 10 inches… buried the can to where the top holes just barely were above the ground… put in two shovels full of compost… then I fill the can up with water every 2 days and try not to water the leaves… these four plants are now 5 ft 4 inches in less that a month and a half and loaded with green tomatoes and about a hundred sets of tomato blossoms…
End of June, 3 ft cage
At the end of June, the plants are clearly thriving and outgrowing their 3 foot cages. The leaves are a dark, lush green signifying the health of the plants.The density of the foliage at this point is amazing and significantly outpacing other growing methods.
The first week of July was extremely hot and dry.The plants are now overflowing their cages. There are huge amounts of foliage and flowers blossoms.Looking forward to bumper crop of tomatoes! Time to start thinking of recipes the use tomatoes… 🙂
“July 9th after a week of record high temps and very little rain…the plants here are loaded with tomatoes inside the cage and full of blooms too!” -James Bryan via HometalkBryan used a 13 gallon kitchen garbage can to grow the tomato plants above but has since switched to using 5 gallon buckets because they’re a lot cheaper and easier to find in quantities.You could even use a larger can as long as you provide each plant with 5 gallons of water per week. For instance if you use a 5 gallon bucket and plant 2 tomato plants around it you fill the 5 gallon bucket 2 times per week. Or a 13 gallon can filled twice yields 26 gallons, so you could plant up to 5 plants around it.“I grow tomatoes now for market, and I have a higher yield per plant than most other growers,” Bryan says.
Q & A
Some questions and answers…
Q: Isn’t that wire opening too small?
A: I learned the hard way.. this year larger wire that I can put my hand through and remove a softball.
Q: What size holes should I drill?
A: ¼ inch. 4 holes at the bottom edge of your bucket in relation to the position of the number of plants you are going to plant.. Go up 2 inches and drill 8 holes spaced at random intervals, then another 2 inches and drill 8 to 12 more holes then another two inches up and drill at least 4 but no more than 8 holes at the 6 inch mark.
Q: When should I water? And How much?
A: Water your plants by filling up the bucket with water in dry times at least 3 times per week, in rainy times less often and be prepared with a good NOP copper fungicide.