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How to grow tomatoes (part 2): Growing tomatoes in containers

In the first article from the How to grow tomatoes series we talked a lot about how you can grow these delicious vegetables outside, in your garden, but today we want to present an alternative that will be very useful to those of you who have a small garden or don't have a garden at all.

Growing tomatoes

Growing tomatoes in containers is the best alternative for those who want to grow tomatoes but simply don't have the space. So here is everything you need to know about growing tomatoes in containers.

Some people are not sure if the effort is really worth it but I would like to say that there is nothing better on a summer day than to pick your home grown vegetables and turn them into a delicious salad for your family. And if you think about the alternative, the tasteless tomatoes from the supermarket, you know that the quality of the tomatoes you grow at home is so much better.

In order to grow your own tomatoes in a small space you will need a sunny patio, porch or balcony and with just a little effort, you will have fresh tomatoes to enjoy. To have a successful harvest, there are three things you need to remember:

1. Tomato variety

2. Planting

3. Ongoing care

Growing tomatoes

So let's talk about each:

Tomato variety is so important for this process. Usually, when you grow tomatoes in a garden, they tend to grow big, sprawling plants that need not only space but also staking, pinching and caging to have a good production. When choosing the tomatoes that you will grow in a container, you must find one that will thrive in such an environment. We suggest you buy one that is more a bushy than vining plant, that it is an indeterminate variety. Indeterminate variety means that it will produce tomatoes all throughout the season, while the determinate types give all their products once.

Planting tomatoes

The next step is planting. Once you found the right variety, look for the containers. Choose containers that are made from plastic or fiberglass, because unlike the clay pots, they don't dry as easy. Even though tomatoes love the heat, they hate being dry, and a dry soil will affect the overall production. Choose containers that are minimum eight inches deep (twelve or even sixteen inches is ideal). Also a cheap alternative is to grow your tomatoes in five gallon buckets.

After choosing the container, make sure you have they have the right drainage. Because the plant will rot if it stays in a soggy soil all the time, make sure your container has proper holes so the water will not remain in the container. Any organic potting soil will do but stay away from any soil your dug up from your garden. Not only is filled with old roots and even bugs but it is to heavy for a container. Go to your local gardening shop and buy a good peat or compost-based soil.

When you start planting the tomato, put soil in the bottom of the pot, and then plant the tomato. Bury the stem and the roots (just below the lowest set of leaves). In time, new roots will grow and you will have a healthy, string plant. Now fill the container with soil, firming lightly as you go. The soil should be up to about an inch below the rim of the pot so you can have enough space left for watering. After finishing with the soil, water well and put it in a sunny place.

Tomatoes in containers

The last part in growing good, delicious and healthy tomatoes is the ongoing care. The most important thing is to water your plants regularly. Check the soil by putting your finger in it and if the first inches are dry, you must water it. Also, remember to fertilize using fish emulsion or seaweed extract. You should fertilize one a month but also every other week, but only applying a half-strength mix.

Don't forget about mulching and support because tomatoes need some help in this area. You can add tomato cages or stakes that fit well in the container. Mulching will keep the weeds away and will retain moisture so go for something like bark mulch, straw or pebbles.

So now that you know how to grow tomatoes in containers all you have to do is find the right variety and some great pots and enjoy these delicious vegetables all summer long!

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