If you love fresh picked tomatoes but have no room for a full garden, don’t worry, there is a way to grow your own!
Tomatoes are one of those fruits that are best picked fresh. While they travel just fine to the grocery store, there seems to be nothing quite like a vine ripened tomato, picked at peak.
Since tomatoes are America’s favorite vegetable, many people grow tomatoes in pots right on their patio.
You will want to start by getting your container. We recommend a pot that is 24″ deep and at least 12″ across for each plant is sufficient, but 24″ across is even better. Five gallon buckets can be used as well, but the larger the pot, the happier the tomato. Be sure your container has drain holes in it or make them yourself. If you are planting on a terrace, you may want to consider adding a saucer underneath your pot so water does not run onto the neighboring terrace below. Tomatoes enjoy consistently moist soil so it is important to have drain holes in your pot so roots don’t rot. Before filling, you may want to mix an organic fertilizer or compost into your potting soil for added nutrients. Fill container to within about an inch from the top.
Tomatoes are by far the most popular vegetable in the U.S. and grown worldwide, so it isn’t surprising that there are no less than 15,000 varieties recorded. They range in color from light pink to deep purple and come in a large variety of shapes and sizes.
While all tomatoes can be eaten straight from the vine or used in recipes, many are bred for particular uses. The heartier more meaty tomatoes fair well for canning, while other varieties lend well to salads or slicing. Choosing your favorite or a variety that will be of best use to you if you are planting one or two plants is a good way to go. If you are planting a few tomatoes to test a particular variety outside of your traditional garden, planting in pots is a good choice as well.
If you don’t already have a favorite in mind, consider how you like to eat tomatoes most. Slicing, in salads, in recipes, etc. If you don’t have a strong preference, you may want to consider the
Cherry or grape varieties. They are convenient for popping into your mouth fresh from the vine, snacking on between meals, in a salad or even for chopping into recipes. If slicing is a favorite in your household, choose a larger variety.
Now that you’ve done all of the hard work, choose a healthy strong plant. If you have chosen a vining tomato, be sure to pick up a trellis to tie it onto as it grows. Make sure your trellis is large enough to accommodate the size of your mature plant. Alternately, a tomato cage is important for many tomato plants as they become top heavy when mature, especially when fruiting. A cage will keep your plant from breaking under the weight. Bush variety tomatoes are especially suited to pots, as they bush out and stop growing when they reach a certain size so they don’t necessarily need caged or trellised. There are many varieties bred and labeled as “Patio” or “Pot” tomatoes.
Pinch off the first two lower stems. Make a hole in moist soil a few inches larger than the root system and deep enough to set plant in up to nearly the lowest stem left. Mound dirt around plant and gently compact it with your hands to firm up soil. Water generously trying to not get leaves wet. Let your plant drain but keep soil consistently moist. If you are using saucers under pots, be sure to dump tray daily so roots are not sitting in water.
Place pot in sunny location. Tomatoes enjoy full sun for 6-8 hrs a day.
Until next time, Happy Planting!
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” ~Audrey Hepburn