Growing Tomatoes in Containers 3

growing tomatoes

Have limited gardening space? If you have a hobby of home gardening and would like to grow tomatoes, then fear not! As long as you have sunlight, tomatoes can be grown anywhere. Growing tomatoes in containers is a practice not only limited to people with restricted gardening space. Plenty of home gardeners grow their vegetables in containers, even when there is free space in the backyard. There are many reasons to have a container garden, but we grow tomatoes in containers mostly for control, convenience, and flexibility.

Growing tomatoes in containers doesn’t differ too much from growing tomatoes outdoors. Like planting in the ground, it’s much best to raise young tomato plants carefully indoors until they’re strong enough to transplant, then when transplanting, bury as much of the plant stem as possible. This will improve root formation along the portion of the stem that is buried, giving the plant excellent base foundation, a great thing regardless of where the tomato is grown.

When it comes to vegetables grown in containers, it’s possible to control the exact state of your growing process. And, when you find the secret recipe for your garden success, you can reuse it over and over again for future successes. You can choose to go completely soilless, or completely organic, or a mixture of both. Growing tomatoes in a container give you this important benefit. The most basic recipe for a good container soil mixture to grow vegetables is 40% compost, 40% peat moss, and 20% perlite.

Although growing tomatoes in containers releases you from messing with dirt from the garden, container vegetables do require a bit more maintenance in terms of watering and fertilizing. Unlike traditional garden tomatoes, tomatoes in containers have limited root coverage, and their growth is limited by the amount of water and nutrients in that container. Container vegetable plants may need to be watered daily during the summer, and sometimes even twice a day to prevent the plants from wilting. Of course, this depends on how big your container is (bigger is always better), and whether you mulch or not. Tomatoes are especially water thirsty plants, so the better you can satisfy their watering needs, the better the results during harvest time will be.

Of course, you can diminish all the disadvantages of container growing by simply installing an automated drip irrigator for your container. Though it sounds complicated, the setup is not expensive and is actually quite easy to install. An automated drip irrigation system can be set up for a price range anywhere between $50-100, and you will save yourself a lot of hassle for later on. Depending on how many containers you have, this could be an excellent investment with great payoffs in the long run.

Applying mulch to containers may sound like an unnecessary chore usually associated with traditional gardening, but it’s a great way to reduce water evaporation and keep weeds down (if you’re using compost or garden soil). Pine bark mulch will work great, so will black plastic mulching. Mulching has an added benefit of keeping your tomato plants looking neat and organized.

When the first blossoms have set in on your plants, don’t be afraid of using more fertilizer. Twice the amount of normal use will work. Increasing fertilization during first blossom formation will start fruit production and result in bigger returns. But whatever fertilization amount you use, try to keep it constant.

And don’t forget to pick your tomato fruits as soon as they’ve ripened. It’s not a good idea to leave tomatoes on the vines for too long, and for every tomato that you pick off, you’ll encourage production of new fruits.

Growing tomatoes in containers is definitely a very flexible and productive gardening process. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your container gardens, as tomatoes are generally tough plants.

Photo: dan/

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