© 2024. Randolph Hub. All Rights Reserved.


Growing tomatoes in tubs

Before I share my overwhelmingly success with my new way I am growing tomatoes, I need to share how Christmas 2022 happened and my devastating loss that made it all happen. 


Christmas fell on a weekend last year and temperatures fell to the low 20s. I was busy with the holidays and then a case of the flu bug struck. I didn’t even remember that I had a greenhouse full of beautiful tropical and orchids, bromeliads, and Bougainvilles — and, of course, numerous kokadama balls. 


So, four days passed with me in bed, and once I was able to get up and around, I thought I had better check on the tropical greenhouse. As I slowly approached it, I had a feeling, a really bad feeling. As I opened the doors, I stared at all the frozen dead plants — nothing had survived!


The heater had gone off, and as we know, tropical plants all need heat. I just closed the doors and walked back to the house speechless. Steve said to me “Everything OK?” and I replied “No, they are all dead!” because I was too busy to check on them. 


Upon checking further, the breaker had tripped, probably because of the extended record low temps. Steve said to look on the bright side, you’ll get to buy new ones in the spring, and look at the money we’ll save by not having to heat that greenhouse any longer this winter. So we just left the heat off the rest of the winter, but I couldn’t bear to look at all the dead plants to even clean up the greenhouse. 


When I was finally able to work on it a few week later, I began packing up our Christmas decorations in the old red tubs and I thought “I need to invest in new clear tubs so I can see what is in each.” This allowed me to repurpose the red tubs into growing pots.  


I recalled seeing weird tomato grow mats in gardening magazines, which were red and you laid then down in the garden to supposedly help grow the biggest tomato plants. I never used those mats, but I wanted to try the same thing with my red “pots.” So we took the red tubs and drilled drainage holes in them. 


The task of cleaning up the greenhouse having begun, I lined up the five tubs outside the greenhouse and I dumped the mushy dead plants and whatever they were growing in into the bottom of each tub. I had even had cacti growing in cactus growing mix — it all went into the tubs. I also added compost from the kitchen, and I was going to grow some tomatoes!


So while the tubes were doing their thing, I started with an unopened package of German Johnson tomato seeds in a 6” plastic planter box. Since that package was probably about 10 years old but it had been kept dry sealed jar, I wasn’t sure they would germinate. I ended up with an overflowing pot of tiny tomato plants. 


Next, I transplanted the largest and best of the tiny plants into red solo cups about three to a cup. I continued to repeat this process for weeks as the plants continued to grow, and by April, I had some nice sized plants. I took the healthiest ones into gallon pots and grew them until they were about a foot tall.  Then came the day to move them to their final homes, the red tubs which was the burial ground for all my tropical plants. 


I bought six bags of Black Cow and six bags of top soil, mixed them into the tubs and then planted those tomato plants. As they continued to grow taller, I added more soil to the base of the plants. After several weeks of growth, I began to see blooms and now tomatoes are hanging on their vines and it won’t be long until we’ll be rewarded with some amazingly delicious tomatoes. 


I have yet to replace those beautiful tropical plants and I’m now thinking that greenhouse will remain unheated and instead start a new hobby of growing tomatoes in red tubs.


There is going to be a sequel to this story called “Growing in Hanging Baskets.”