Tomatoes are wonderful to eat when they are freshly picked, and growing tomatoes can be done nearly anywhere by container gardening. Tomatoes need 5 to 6 hours sun a day, and if you have a terrace, porch, window, or patio, you can still have tomato plants even if there is no yard space. When tomatoes are grown in containers, they are less susceptible to fungal disease and insects, easier to maintain, and can be taken inside the house when the weather is cold. These plants are not winter hardy, and must be mulched or taken indoors during the cold winter months.
The time to start planting tomatoes is in early spring or in the fall, but if the climate in the area is mild, tomatoes can be planted anytime. The best way to start from seeds is to sow them in pots indoors using sterile seed starting soil at a depth of one-eight inch. When the first leaf has emerged, place the seed container under the sun or use a plant light to give them their sun requirements. When 7 weeks have passed, transplant the seedlings into individual, larger containers. You may also buy tomato plants ready to transplant.
The kind of soil ideal for tomatoes is organic potting soil, a peat or compost-based soil, or you can create mixture composed or sphagnum peat, vermiculite and perlite. Tomatoes thrive in moist rich soil, but not in soggy conditions, so the soil must have good drainage and plenty of organic matter. Giiving them the right kind of soil will help prevent soil borne disease and encourage the growth of a strong root system. To plant the seedlings, place some soil into the container until it is around 2 inches below the rim. Set the tomato plant by burying the stem below the lowest leaf and their roots. Add soil lightly around the tomato plant, tapping down gently, until the soil level is 1 inch below the rim. Pour in water with a liquid soluble fertilizer.
As your plants grow, they need to be deeply watered frequently. When the top 2 inches of the soil is dry, liberally water the plant. Container plants soil dries out faster than ground soil, and when your plants begin to blossom until the harvest is over, daily watering is needed. Add a high nitrogen fertilizer once a month until the first white blossoms appear, then apply fertilizer that is high in phosphorous and potassium. Fish emulsion or seaweed extract can also be used instead of ordinary fertilizers. Inspect your plants regularly for aphids and white flies. Eliminate by washing them of with a strong blast of water or sprayed with insecticidal soap.
There are two kinds of tomato plants, the indeterminate variety which requires staking and can grow up to 12 feet, and the determinate that grows like a bush and does not need staking. For container gardening, the best choice is the determinate type of tomato plants that can grow up to 3 feet tall. There is also semi-determinate varieties that grow up to 6 feet and will crop in less than 2 months after transplant. Some of the best varieties for container gardening are Celebrities, Roma, Patio, Tumbler, Garden Pearl, Yellow Pigmy, Micro Tom, and Basket Boy Yellow or Red.
When choosing the container, make sure that it is at least 8 inches deep and it has good drainage properties. You can use terra cotta pots, plastic containers, hanging baskets, or upside-down tomato planters. If you use an upside-down tomato planter like the Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter, or the Topsy Turvy Tomato Tree, the tomato plants will be less prone to getting ground fungus, and it will eliminate the need of weeding and stalking the plant. The planter is ideal to keep the soil warm, making the root system grow better. The nutrients from the soil will go directly into the vine plant, helping make the harvest yield more bountiful. The unique way that the tomato plant grows upside down can be a gardener’s delight.