Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Grow Tomatoes in a Plastic Barrel

By Elizabeth Balarini ; Updated September 21, 2017

Tomatoes are scientifically classified as fruits, but are cooked and eaten as vegetables. Tomatoes are packed with vitamins and minerals that support and strengthen immune systems. Cooked tomatoes--such as stewed tomatoes or tomato sauces--contain higher concentrations of lycopene, which helps to protect against prostate cancer. Tomatoes are a popular crop in home vegetable gardens, and can even be grown in containers.

Purchase or find a plastic barrel that is 18 to 24 inches in diameter, and 20 to 24 inches deep. Turn it upside down, and check for drainage holes. If there aren't any holes, use a drill and a 1/2 inch drill bit to drill three holes in the bottom, evenly spaced.

Turn the bucket right-side up, and fill it with potting soil. Do not fill the barrel to the rim. Leave the top 2 to 4 inches of the barrel unfilled, to avoid soil loss with watering.

Create a well in the center of the potting soil. Bury the tomato plant up to and including the first set of leaves. Burying the plant this deep encourages the development of strong root systems.

Water the plant thoroughly, to help the roots work trapped oxygen bubbles out of the soil. Thereafter, water the tomato plant at least every other day. Tomato plants grown in the south require water more than once a day during the hotter summer months.

Drag the barrel into a sunny area of the yard that receives at least eight hours of direct sunlight each day. After tomatoes have developed, drag the barrel into a covered area if there is a period of prolonged rain; too much water late in the tomato development causes the fruit to crack and rot.


Things You Will Need

  • Large plastic barrel (18 to 24 inches in diameter, 20 to 24 inches deep)
  • Drill and drill bit
  • Potting soil
  • Tomato seedling plant
  • Liquid fertilizer
  • Tomato cage or bamboo sticks and twine

About the Author


Elizabeth Balarini is a freelance writer and professional blogger who began writing professionally in 2006. Her work has been published on several websites. Her articles focus on where her passions lie: writing, web development, blogging, home and garden, and health and wellness. Balarini majored in English at the University of Texas at San Antonio.