Grow Tomatoes at Home Even if You Don’t Have a Garden


For me, about the only thing better than vine-ripened tomatoes is knowing that I grew them myself. Look at that … hands going up all over the room! There’s just something indescribable about a perfectly ripened, brightly colored, juicy, delicious tomato. Or six.

tomato salad

Some rights reserved by ralph and jenny

Sounds so easy, but the truth is that growing a garden can be time-consuming and frustrating, assuming that you even have space for one.

Add to the hard work of planting a garden, there’s a matter of weeding, fertilizing, watering over and over throughout the growing season. My intentions are always superior, but my follow through? Not so much.

I live in California where water is precious and therefore expensive, which just adds to the list of challenges for me when it comes to home gardening. That’s why I was immediately drawn to a very clever idea of growing tomatoes and all kinds of vegetables―even fruit trees―in good old plastic storage bins available online at Amazon but also at stores like Target, Home Depot and Lowes.

The process of building one of these systems, known as an EarthTainer is not difficult, and pretty cheap as well, because you use ordinary household supplies. It takes about  90 minutes to build and plant one container so that it’s all ready to go with two tomato plants.


Ray Newstead

While not a huge job, this is not a matter of throwing some dirt and a plant in a pot. You will need to assemble the correct supplies and follow the instructions carefully. And don’t assume you’ll do this in an hour and a half the first time around. This is a mid-level construction project, just so you know.

The inventor, Ray Newstead, has created three handy videos with very clear instructions on how to do this.

Once you have it built and planted your container, this amazing system waters itself. And you add all the fertilizer you’ll need for one season when you build it. After that … just wait for the harvest. And did I say no weeding?

I am going to give this a try. I think you might be with me on this once you learn that you can put your tomato garden on a patio, balcony or even indoors near a south-facing window. That means we could be growing tomatoes and other vegetables year round.

You know how much I believe that we should be moving toward growing our own food whenever possible. Here’s an invention that makes it possible.

You can read more about the EarthTainer and find the three videos that will walk you through the construction process here.

Note: While Ray says the method he demonstrates in the videos is valid and works well, he has greatly improved the system. The EarthTainer/InnTainer “Convertible” Edition Construction, Planting, and Maintenance Guide is a downloadable .pdf, complete with pictures and very detailed instructional steps.

I’d love to know your thoughts. Surely I can’t be the only one who thinks this is just so incredibly creative and the solution to so many gardening problems. I can’t wait to build my own EarthTainer.

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  1. Whithered Belaglik Von Poobah says:

    Tomatoes are the one thing that I have never been able to grow. I’ve used containers, in the ground, raised beds, and even those upside down thingies and if I get 1-2 tomatoes a year, I consider myself lucky. I keep trying, though. I hope to figure it out someday.

  2. Janet B says:

    You really DO want to grow as much as you can yourself as most of our food these days is GMO – genetically modified, which nullifies the nutrition… lots of info on the web about this particularly – you may have to get creative about buying non-GMO seeds as well – here’s a reference for that:

  3. Donna Pheneger says:

    Interesting idea – although in FL, many of us live on land that is rented – yeah I know…long story…and we’re not allowed to plant anything off the enclosed porches that are food related due to critters. We have large pots in which we grow tomatoes, green peppers and jalapenos.

  4. DianaB says:

    The one thing skipped in the second video was insertion of the smaller container into the top one. Also, this outfit (marvelous-looking, I might add) is going to be pretty heavy to move once watered and planted and I would think needs to already be in place when you do all this. I think you would need a helper to move them. Maybe I am leaping to conclusions here, as I have not downloaded all the plans available, but In the videos, it was not addressed that the root system of the current plants when being removed is going to be fairly large and the plastic moisture barrier will no doubt be ripped apart when you pull the old plants. How does it get replaced? I would think the current plastic bag would be taken off and a new one simply laid on top of the soil with appropriate slits to go around the tomato cage legs. I also noted in the still photos that there is a drip system involved in the ones with the tomato and corn plants. Having said all that, I will download the instructions and see if those are addressed. I have also tried the upside down 5 gallon bucket trick which is pretty fun. Those guys are pretty heavy when filled with wet planting mix, so I can only imagine how heavy these EarthTainers are going to be. I currently plant in containers on my porch/deck as the garden directly into the soil becomes burdensome to take care of, not that I don’t like pulling weeds (LOL) and watering by hand. Also, it is advised not to plant the same types of plants over and over in the same spot every year. The 5 gallon buckets can be found in multiple places for free without having to buy them, either. Slightly smaller buckets (maybe 4 gallon) pickle buckets can be had for nothing from your friendly fast food joint, as they simply go into the trash along with everything else because nobody has the sense to recycle. My son works at Wendy’s and brings them home all the time. Happy gardening.

  5. Joyce says:

    We have used Earthboxes for several years now, and they are excellent!
    They come complete – soil, ‘shower cap’ to cover the soil (for weed prevention), fertilizer. You just need to plant your plants, or seeds, and have the water source. They are great!!

  6. jan says:

    We have 5 Earthboxes on our deck. They can be reused every year with minimal maintenance. Weeds are prevented by a kind of “showercap” cover that only lets the plants through and doesn’t give light to weeds. Also keeps out rain so plants don’t get overwatered by having water from above AND a water source from below. The reservoir below is really the one which keeps the right balance of moisture for the plants..

  7. Container Gardner says:

    Look at “Earthbox” — these are available in many garden centers. I have used these to good effect. I do not have access to jig saws and don’t have the hand strength to do the cutting.

    I’ve also used 5 gal food pails (free), gravel to weigh them down for stability and to create the water reservoir and grown tomatoes that overflowed the tomato cage on a porch in CT. I had fresh tomatoes for Thanksgiving that year. Window boxes are great for growing lettuces -I prepared them in the fall (all but the seeding) covered them with a tarp and uncovered them in March and as soon as they thawed (this was CT) ,planted my seeds – used several varieties of leaf lettuce making ‘colored’ bands using red, green, and other varities. By April I was cutting (lettuce regrows so you can cut the top part of the leaf, leaving the root) lettuce. By relocating the window boxes to a more shaded area in the patio, when it got too hot, I could have fresh lettuce for most of the season.


  8. Cleer says:

    I found two 5 gallon pots for five bucks a piece. No need to drill holes or
    Make whatever that wire stuff was in the storage bin instructions. My
    Pots are far easier and a lot faster. Put my soil, feed them water them
    and away I go. And I have a ton of tomatoes again this year. I know I
    Have to water them, but that is no problem as for I like to be outside.

  9. elizabeth says:

    The deer eat everything I try to grow. The year they ate allmy green tomatoes from the plants on the patio was the year I gave up.

  10. Tonya says:

    I’ve grown tomatoes in a variety of different containers, and they’re very adaptable. Google “container gardening” or look for books on the subject. I found The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible to be a great reference on the subject including many different containers you can make out of items you already own. I liked the two-bucket method since I already had 5-gallon buckets on hand to use. Definitely no reason you can’t grow tomatoes!!

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