growing earlier tomatoes

Growing Tomatoes in Containers

Growing Tomatoes – My Favorite Method

 

For the past few years, I’ve switched to growing tomatoes in containers.growing tomatoes in containers

There are several reasons for this, starting with losing all my tomatoes one year to a ravenous deer – they vanished overnight just as they were beginning to ripen. All I found the next morning were a few odd leaves and a big hole in the mesh that I’d thought would protect them.

Once I’d made sure my fences were high enough, I started again, and this time although the tomato plants grew well in my raised beds, they needed shelter from a really rainy season. A lot of bother, and the cool weather really slowed down the ripening. We made a lot of green tomato relish that year.

So – we build a small greenhouse, and I began growing tomatoes in containers. And that’s where I found tomato-growing success. Roma tomatoes,  cherry tomatoes and yummy slicing ones thrived, all in large containers within this warm and sheltered space. Delicious!

So – you don’t have space for a small greenhouse, or you don’t have a garden? You can start growing tomatoes in containers almost anywhere.

Benefits of growing tomatoes in containers

 

Growing container tomatoes is a perfect method for people short of space or who don’t have an actual garden. There are several benefits to growing your tomato plants in containers.

1. The containers can easily be located in a spot with lots of light and warmth – both necessary for your tomatoes to do well.  Location is definitely the key – choose a protected and sunny spot. Along a sunny south facing wall is the perfect spot.

2. You will eliminate the need to weed or the worry about garden pests. This is a biggie. And right beside the tomatoes, grow a container full of basil. These two love each other!

3. You can move your pots to protect the tomato plants from cold or excessive rain. Rain will cause your tomatoes to split, inviting disease. Word of warning here – a full grown plant in a large pot is heavy, so you may want to start by locating them in a spot where you can easily add a shelter like a small hoop tunnel or a home made plastic cloche. (More on this later!)

4. Locate your containers near a water source, and it’s easy to set up an automatic watering system. Tomatoes need a lot of water, and with a drip system for each pot this is easily taken care of.

Some kinds of tomatoes do better than others in containers. Choose the determinate types that do not grow too large. Typically they will grow to maximum height of 2 feet, with several branches.

growing tomatoes in containersMake sure your tomato container plants have a large enough pot so the roots can spread and grow strong. Keep the soil moist at all times, since drying out will stunt the plant growth. Plastic containers will stay moist longer than terra cotta or wood containers.

However, do not make the mistake of allowing the roots to sit in water or you’ll invite root rot. Good drainage is imperative.

Container grown tomatoes can do well in a soil-less mix of sphagnum peat, perlite and vermiculite.  Before you plant your seedlings, add a scoop of organic fertilizer to the mixture as well to the center of the pot and mix it in well.

Tomato plants tend to be heavy feeders so add a slow release fertilizer.  Additionally, fertilize your tomatoes with a liquid organic fertilizer every 3 weeks once flowers appear.

I know that, like I did, you’ll find growing tomatoes in containers is the best way to ensure a great crop.

Last summer, one of my favorite tomato plants (deliciously mild Taxi organic heirloom yellows) grew over 35 luscious fruits on a single container plant for over 3 months of mouth-watering enjoyment!

 

Growing Tomatoes: Choosing Varieties and Giving Your Plants the Best Possible Start

 

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