Container Gardening for Tomatoes

By: Dael Leathe

If you're not a big fan of getting dirty in the outside garden, then fear not. Most of the vegetables grown at home can be grown equally well in containers. By finding the right container and filling it with the right potting mixture, you will be able to grow anything you want in it, even tomatoes.

First you need to find the right size container for your plants. If you want the little cherry tomatoes (which are excellent in salads) then you can use the regular size hanging baskets, but if you prefer the larger tomatoes you'd do best to purchase five gallon buckets, because your plants need plenty of room to grow, you don't want them to be cramped. Next you need to go to a nursery and purchase your tomato plants. You don't want to get too large of a plant, you can buy a determinate tomato plant, that stops growing after they reach a certain size, or indeterminate that will continue to grow and produce larger tomato plants. Two very popular indeterminate tomato plants are Big Beef and Better Boy, which are also very resistant to plant disease and will give you tomatoes for a longer period of time.

Now you're ready to begin planting, make sure you put some holes in the bottom of your container for proper drainage. You don't want your plant to become overwhelmed with excess water. Carefully remove the bottom few sets of leaves and place the plant in the container. Make sure you don't use a flimsy, light weight container, because when your tomatoes are in bloom they may be top heavy and could cause the plant to topple. Tomatoes should be staked as early as possible, to prevent root disturbances caused by setting in the stake. Use a well mixed potting soil supplemented with plenty of organic matter to enrich the taste of your tomatoes. Ask at your neighborhood nursery for help in picking out the proper soil and fertilizer for in home planting.

Plants need plenty of sunlight, at least 6 to 8 hours a day. A grow light can be very beneficial in growing young plants, especially on cloudy days with limited sunlight. Be sure to water them daily, forgetting to water them for a couple of days and then starting to water them again, and then you once again forgetting; this rigorous process could delay the growth of your tomato plants. So please, be consistent with your care for them.

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