When you think of robust tomatoes, you probably think about nice healthy soil, maybe trellises or stakes, and maybe, I don't know, hardy heirloom seeds. What probably does not come to mind right away is a garbage can.

Who knew, but a simple plastic garbage can could be the secret to growing a garden tomato crop with the most voluptuous fruits and leaves that you have ever grown. An avid gardener posted these unbelievable photos on Hometalk.com of his secret to growing huge tomato plants. Do you want to know his secret? OK, I'll tell you.

The DIY gardener started by buying a small, round, plastic wastebasket, which he drilled holes in. He drilled the holes around the bottom rim, and "a second row up about ten inches." He buried the wastebasket so that the second row of holes rose just above the ground. He then filled the wastebasket with two shovels-full of compost.

tomato plant and bucket

This photo was taken May 28, 2012. (Photo: James Bryan C via Hometalk.com.)

Next, he planted four tomato plants around the trash can, and put up a round tomato cage around them. Every two days, he fills up the little garbage can with water. Easy, eh?

tomato plants

The same plant at the end of June, topping the 3-foot cage (left), and July 9 (right) after a week of record high temps and little rain. The plants are loaded with tomatoes and blooms. (Photo: James Bryan C via Hometalk.com)

Within a month and a half, he grew five foot high tomato plants, each of which bore a lot of fruit. FYI, he was gardening in central Pennsylvania, where the climate is chilly and the growing season is shorter than in the South. So if you are a getting a late start on planting tomatoes, this technique is a way to speed up the growth process for optimal yield.

More tips for growing tomatoes: A gardener in San Diego discusses preparing your tomato starter plants for transplanting.

Chaya Kurtz originally wrote this story for Networx.com. It is reprinted with permission here.

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