Growing Tomatoes in Containers
Growing Tomatoes in Containers
There are a lot of upsides to growing tomatoes in containers. With containers, you can to grow tomatoes almost anywhere. They provide additional flexibility in that you can control the growing medium, which will protect plants from pests and diseases. Not to mention that you can achieve amazing results that you could not have achieved otherwise.
All tomato varieties can be grown in containers. But the bigger the plant size, the more maintenance is required to upkeep the plant.
Choosing the Right Container
The minimum size container you should use is 5 gallons. Although you could go as small as 3 gallons for varieties like 4th of July, smaller containers mean more watering and more fertilization. Bigger containers are better in reducing the frequency of these needs.
You might ask, where do you find these containers? Look around the house and see if you’ve got any 5-gallon buckets lying around. If not you could always buy some containers at the store. 18-gallon Rubbermaid storage boxes are inexpensive ($3-4 at Walmart) and are big enough to fit up to 2 plants.
You may also look toward plastic grow bags as a cheap and convenient alternative to conventional containers. These are basically foldable bags that can stand upright when filled with soil. They come in all sizes from 5 to 20 gallons. They work well and are easy to clean up after the growing season has ended.
And if you’re desperate looking for containers, you could always grow tomato plants in bags of compost. No I’m not joking… just lay the 40lb bag flat on the ground, cut a square opening on the top surface, and poke some drainage holes underneath. Obviously this method is not suitable for indoors. Outdoors, set up a cage around the bag after the plant has been set in. If you desire, you can bury the bag with leaves or some other mulch for appearance and protection.
Container Growing Medium
There are a lot of options as to what growing medium can be used in containers. Regular garden soil and potting soil will work, but you can and should do much better than that. Many gardeners use professional growing mixes, such as those made by MiracleGro and ProMix. These are usually pricey, so the alternative is to make your own. The basic formula for a good mixture is 40% peat moss, 40% compost, and 20% perlite. The peat moss and perlite greatly enhances drainage, which is very important for container gardening. These ingredients come cheap when bought in big packages, especially at end of the season sales.
Growing tomatoes in containers is notorious for watering needs. Water evaporates faster in containers and need to be replaced constantly. Mulching will greatly reduce your watering needs. Grass clippings and red pine bark can be used for mulch. You can also set up a container watering kit to automate the watering process.
Fertilization is crucial for container success. Tomatoes grown in containers need to be fertilized more often, as much as once per week for the smaller containers. Chemical fertilizers like MiracleGro are ideal, because they work efficiently and reduce damage to your garden soil if used in containers.
Staking and Pruning
Stakes for container tomato plants should be set up on the outside (if that’s possible) where they could be set firmer into the ground, for wind protection. Pruning might be necessary if the plants are growing way too big.
Growing Tomatoes in Pots
Growing tomatoes in pots: how-to-grow-tomatoes-upside-down.
Labels: Growing tomatoes in pots