Since we don’t all have room for a traditional tomato garden either because the yard is too small or for apartment dwellers there is no yard. Growing tomatoes in pots is a great way to have a small garden on the patio or apartment grown tomatoes. FInd a spot with enough space for a pot, and enough sunlight and start growing tomatoes in pots this year.
Here are some tips to growing tomatoes in a pot. First, find a spot that has at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day, more if you can find it. Here are some more things to watch for in container grown tomatoes.
Pick the Right Pot - A standard terra cotta pot with a diameter of 12 inches or more is recommended for tomatoes. You want to make sure your tomato roots have room to grow. Ensure good drainage to avoid root rot, pick a container, with drainage holes in the bottom. You may want to add a layer of rock to keep the holes draining. There are many alternatives to a standard clay pot, barrels are a common choice.
Tomato Varieties - Just as important as the choice of a good pot is the choice of a variety suited to the pot you’ve chosen. The biggest limitation with growing tomatoes in a pot is keeping the plant adequately watered. Choosing a variety that has a lower water demand is key to keeping them strong over the hot dry summer months. Many varieties sold as patio tomatoes are determinate which means they grow to a certain size and then stop, but they only bear over just a few weeks. Similar in size are “dwarf indeterminate” varieties, which have a smaller, stockier growth pattern but will bear for a much longer time. Some good varieties include Patio, Pixie, Tiny Tim, Tumbling Tom and Small Fry. These have the added advantage of not needing as much support or staking.
Soil - A key need os lots of organic matter to help retain moisture in the pot. An alternative is to use a soilless mix of sphagnum peat, perlite, and vermiculite to avoid any concerns with soil borne diseases, and to retain moisture. Plant the tomato plants relatively deep, up to the first set of leaves. This will help develop the strong root system that container grown plants need.
Fertilizing Tomatoes - Tomatoes are heavy feeders, so you will want to mix in a slow acting fertilizer at planting time, and then may want to add a side dressing of fertilizer every 2 to 4 weeks.
Self Watering Planters - Tomato plants typically need at least one inch of water a week, but in a pot they may need more since the pot can get pretty warm in the summer months. If you live in an area that has warm summers you may want to consider a self watering planter like the Earthbox system to reduce the number of times you need to add water.