Tomatoes are one of the most popular crops for home gardeners – and with good reason. They’re easy to grow in many different climates and soils, and can produce for several months given the right weather. They are typically quite prolific, so you can get a lot of tomatoes from just a few plants, and they come in a rainbow of colors and flavors. It’s no wonder we love growing them!
No worries – tomatoes even grow great in a pot on the patio. The article below shares a run-down of the basics of growing tomatoes in containers.
Choose the Right Container
The right container for your tomato plant is the first step on your journey to a robust crop…. As long as you select a five gallon size or larger, any of the containers will work….
If you are a handy sort, you might construct a container from wood. Make sure the wood you are using has not been chemically treated since you are using the planter for edibles. A simple 2 ft by 2 ft box will do.
For a thrifty idea, hunt around your neighborhood garage sales or secondhand shops for plastic tubs or pots…. For more inexpensive container ideas, see this great Mother Earth News article.
Your container will need to have several drainage holes. Most pots that you purchase will already have at least one hole. If you go the more inexpensive route and choose a plastic tub or a bucket, you will need to create drainage holes. Your container will need to be sturdy enough to drill several holes into the bottom.
Soil and Location
According to the experts at Ohio State, you should mix your soil to meet the tomato plant’s requirements for nourishment and moisture level. Use equal parts of potting soil, perlite, sphagnum moss, and compost. (For more tips on nutrients for tomatoes, check out this post.)
Even after you have filled your container with soil, it will be light enough to move, which is one great advantage to container gardening…. Choose a warm location where your plant will get at least 6 hours of full sun every day….
Recommended Seed Varieties
…Most varieties of tomatoes grow well in containers.
It is important to note that there are two different types of tomato plants. The indeterminate tomato plant is generally large and vining. It will produce fruit continually over the course of the growing season. A determinate tomato plant is smaller and bushier. It will produce one bulk harvest, and then the plant will die.
For the larger-sized plants, try a tomato cage, wire fencing, or bamboo stakes for support. A few larger tomato varieties that grow well in containers include “Believe-it-or Not,” “Early Girl V,” or “Yellow Pygmy.”
………………………………………………..If you would prefer a smaller and more compact plant.., choose determinate varieties. Determinate varieties are very compatible with container gardening. “Patio V” is a popular choice with its small plant size, yet tennis ball-sized tomatoes. “Totem” is a dwarf variety that produces nice, round cherry tomatoes. “Tiny Tim” is a cold tolerant variety that reaches maturity in 60 days.
Check out this mouth-watering line of best tomatoes for containers at veggiegardener.com.
When you have selected an appealing variety and you are ready to plant, consider your container a one-plant show. Plant 3 or 4 seeds in your container a half inch deep after the danger of frost. When your seedlings have two leaves, thin to one plant.
If you choose to purchase your seedling from a nursery or store, transplant it when the weather warms and your soil is at least 60 degrees. Tomato transplants thrive when they are set deep into the soil, so don’t be afraid to plant it so the lowest leaves of the plant are even with or even buried in the soil.
Watering and Fertilizing
Tomato plants love a good balance of water. Your goal is to keep your plant moist at all times…. Container gardens have a tendency to dry out quickly, so keep a close eye on your plants.
As was mentioned before, tomato plants enjoy plenty of nourishment. If you use an excellent soil mix to begin with, fertilizing your tomato plant isn’t crucial…
…As your plant blossoms and is about to produce fruit, adding a fish emulsion every other time you water will offer replenishment. But remember, too much of a good thing is not a good thing, and that goes for fertilizing your container tomatoes.
……………………………………………….Growing Tomatoes Upside Down
Container gardening is not limited to upright pots these days. Upside down planters are a trendy new method for a bountiful harvest. Not all tomato varieties are suitable for this style of gardening, but cherry tomato plants are especially successful when grown upside down.
Upside down containers might be as simple as a milk jug or as specialized as a Topsy Turvey bag. The sun, soil, and watering requirements are the same as those for an upright container….
For a variety of container ideas for your upside down tomato gardening, visit this site.