Tomatoes Watch Over Their Smaller Companions (Peppers)
As the tomato plants tower over the pepper plants, they bathe in the hot mid-day sun, preventing sun scald of the leaves and peppers that are shaded below. The pepper plants will stay shorter and bushier, unlike their cousins (the tomatoes.)
During the worst of the heat waves, it is very likely that your tomato plants won’t be producing much fruit. You may decide to allow some of the suckers to grow, adding a little more shade for the pepper plants below, if your peppers begin to suffer from sun scald. Peppers seem to be far more prone to this, so I like to ensure that the pepper plants have a bit of a break between Noon and 2:00 PM, if at all possible.
Pepper Plants Return the Favor: Maintaining Cooler Temperatures and Even Moisture
The shorter pepper plants, with their lush, dense foliage, will help to cool the roots of the tomato plants and help to hold in moisture during the driest weeks, especially if you’re growing tomatoes in clay soil. If you typically leave exposed soil around your tomato plants, the dirt will dry very quickly under the summer sun; pepper plants will slow the process of evaporation.
With this protection, tomato plants are at less risk of heat or water stress, and it may extend fruiting during the hotter days of the year. This is incredibly helpful if you’re growing tomatoes in places like TN. If your tomato plant is going to be trained upwards and you are utilizing a high quality fertilizer or compost, try planting in 3’s: two pepper plants on either side of a tomato plant, with each being 6″ apart. This will ensure that the roots of the tomato plant are well shaded, and the pepper plants will excel in production during late summer due to the close proximity of planting, which reduces heat stress and sun scald.
The 5 Gallon Bucket Garden: Tomatoes, Peppers, and What?!
I told you that we’d come back to the bucket garden! Many gardeners are turning to 5 gallon buckets, in an effort to grow a successful container garden. Whether the gardener lives in an apartment, lives in a suburban rental, doesn’t have time to weed, or simply has a bad back, the truth is bucket gardens are excellent alternatives. Tomato plants will grow quite well in buckets, especially early girls!
Determinate Tomatoes and Peppers
Since determinate tomatoes grow much bushier, they’re better suited for the bucket method if you intend to plant peppers with them. In a typical garden bed, you may have several determinate tomatoes, with peppers planted in-between; in this case, the peppers may not get enough light.
In the bucket, the pepper plant will receive adequate light, especially if you have the pepper plant facing the south. This makes it easier to provide the light that both plants require in such a small space.
Need Oregano and Basil?
Believe it or not, you can tuck Oregano and Basil in with your peppers and tomatoes! These are smaller herbs, with both performing well in the shade of peppers and tomatoes. If you gently train the pepper plant outward over the edge of the bucket, you’ll provide all of the light that these two herbs would need.
Please keep in mind that you’ll have to keep up with a frequent fertilizing schedule, keeping the plants well fed in light of quite a crowded environment. This system can work wonderfully, providing you almost everything you need for a pasta garden!
Note: You could also opt for Cilantro in place of Oregano and Basil, turning your pasta garden into a salsa garden!
Onions and Garlic: Two Other Additional Companions!
Trying to stuff 6 different types of plants into one bucket would be virtually impossible. However, with the depth of a 5 gallon bucket, you could substitute the above-ground herbs with some root veggies. Onions and garlic both will make wonderful companion plants to the tomato and pepper plant, and both possess wonderful pest repelling abilities. Both of these plants can go quite far in the kitchen, especially garlic. This one bucket alone could produce an incredible amount of pasta sauce or salsa.