Why Do It?
Growing tomatoes in containers is a fantastic way to enjoy fresh, home-grown tomatoes without needing a large garden. Here are some reasons why you should grow tomatoes in containers:
If you live in an apartment or have a small garden, growing tomatoes in containers is an excellent way to save space. You can place the containers on a balcony, patio, or even a windowsill. This means you can enjoy fresh tomatoes, even if you don’t have a lot of outdoor space.
Growing tomatoes in containers is convenient because you can move them around to find the best spot for sunlight and temperature. You can also move them indoors during bad weather, which is not possible with in-ground plants. This makes it easier to take care of your plants and ensures they get the best growing conditions.
3. Better control
Growing tomatoes in containers gives you better control over the growing conditions. You can choose the soil mix, fertilisers, and watering schedule. This means you can tailor the growing conditions to suit your tomatoes’ needs and maximise their growth and yield.
4. Pest control
Growing tomatoes in containers also makes it easier to control pests and diseases. You can monitor your plants more closely and take action if you spot any problems. This means you can prevent infestations from spreading and protect your plants from damage.
Perhaps the best reason to grow tomatoes in containers is the freshness. When you grow your tomatoes, you can pick them at the peak of ripeness and enjoy them immediately. This means you get to experience the full flavour and nutrients of your home-grown tomatoes.
In summary, growing tomatoes in containers is an excellent way to enjoy fresh, home-grown tomatoes without needing a large garden. It saves space, is convenient, gives you better control, makes pest control easier, and provides you with the freshest tomatoes possible.
You Will Need
The first thing you will need is a container. Choose a container that is at least 12 inches in diameter and height, with a five-gallon capacity. This size is suitable for bush, determinate, dwarf, or patio vines. For larger indeterminate vines, choose containers with a diameter of 18 to 24 inches and a similar height.
Next, you will need soil. Choose a high-quality potting mix that is designed for container gardening. The soil should be well-draining and rich in nutrients.
Tomatoes are heavy feeders, so you will need to fertilize them regularly. Choose a balanced fertilizer that is high in potassium.
4. Tomato Plants / Seeds
Choose healthy tomato plants that are suitable for container gardening. Look for determinate or dwarf varieties that are compact and bushy. You can also grow direct from seed, which is a very cheap option and may allow you to try some unusual varieties.
Tomato plants need support to grow upright and produce fruit. Choose a sturdy stake or cage that is at least 3 feet tall and can support the weight of the plant.
Finally, you will need water. Tomato plants need regular watering, especially in hot weather. Water the plants deeply once or twice a week, depending on the weather and soil moisture level.
By gathering these essential items, you will be well on your way to growing healthy, delicious tomatoes in containers.
Before You Start
Growing tomatoes in containers is a great way to enjoy fresh, home-grown tomatoes even if you don’t have a lot of space. However, before you start, there are a few things you should consider.
The first thing to consider is the size of the container you will use. Tomatoes need a lot of space to grow, so choose a container that is at least 18 inches wide and 24 inches deep. This will give the roots enough room to grow and allow the plant to reach its full potential.
The soil you use is also important. Choose a high-quality potting mix that is specifically formulated for container gardening. This will provide the right balance of nutrients and drainage that your tomatoes need to thrive.
Tomatoes need a lot of sunlight to grow, so choose a location that gets at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day. If you don’t have a spot that gets that much sun, consider using a grow light to supplement the natural light.
Tomatoes in containers need to be watered more frequently than those grown in the ground. Check the soil daily and water whenever it feels dry to the touch. Be sure to water deeply to encourage deep root growth.
Finally, tomatoes need regular fertilization to grow and produce fruit. Use a balanced fertilizer that is high in phosphorus, which is essential for fruit development. Follow the instructions on the package for best results.
By considering these factors before you start, you’ll be on your way to growing healthy, productive tomato plants in containers.
Growing tomatoes in containers is an easy and enjoyable way to enjoy home-grown tomatoes fresh from the vine. Here are some steps to help you get started:
Select a container
Choose a container that is at least 12 inches high and 12 inches in diameter or a five-gallon capacity. A larger container of around 2 square feet is better for indeterminate vines. Plastic pots are inexpensive and unlikely to break, but clay pots are more attractive and provide better insulation.
Choose your tomato variety
Choose a variety that is suitable for container growing. Bush, determinate, dwarf, or patio vines are ideal for small containers, while large indeterminate vines require more space and do best in larger containers.
Prepare the soil
Use a good quality potting mix that is rich in nutrients and has good drainage. Avoid using garden soil as it may contain pests and diseases. Mix in some slow-release fertiliser or compost to provide nutrients for your tomato plant.
Plant seeds (If you’re buying plants then you can skip this step)
Sow your seeds in the container, covering them with a fine layer of potting mix. Water the soil very gently being careful not to wash the seeds away. Too help with germination, keep the container covered with a plastic lid or cling film until seedlings start to appear – usually after 6 – 8 days.
Plant your tomato
Plant your tomato in the container, burying the roots and a few inches of the stem in the potting mix. Unless you’re planting dwarf or patio varieties, add a plant stake or tomato cage for support.
Water your tomato
Water your tomato regularly, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged. Tomatoes need at least an inch of water per week, but be careful not to overwater as this can lead to root rot.
Tomatoes need at least six to eight hours of sunlight each day to grow and produce fruit. Place your container in a sunny spot or use grow lights if you don’t have access to natural sunlight.
Prune your tomato
Remove any suckers that appear in the crotch joint of two branches, as these will not produce fruit and will only divert energy from the main stem. Pinch off the top of the plant once it reaches the desired height to encourage more fruit production.
After yellow flowers appear on your plant, then you should soon start to see fruits developing. As the fruits turn from green to red, check them daily and as they begin to feel a little softer to the touch, you’ll know they’re becoming ripe. Snip them off at the viine when ready with a sharp pair of scissors or secateurs.
Some Ideas for Inspiration
If you’re looking for some inspiration for growing tomatoes in containers, there are plenty of ideas to choose from. Here are some popular varieties to try that are easy to grow in the UK climate:
- Cherry tomatoes: These are perfect for snacking and salads. Try varieties like ‘Gardener’s Delight’ or ‘Sungold’ for a sweet and tangy flavour.
- Beefsteak tomatoes: These are larger tomatoes that are great for slicing and grilling. Try varieties like ‘Brandywine’ or ‘Beefmaster’ for a meaty and juicy flavour.
- Plum tomatoes: These are great for making sauces and pastes. Try varieties like ‘San Marzano’ or ‘Roma’ for a firm and flavourful tomato.
When it comes to containers, the possibilities are endless. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Grow bags: These are a popular choice for growing tomatoes in containers. They are affordable, easy to use, and come in a variety of sizes.
- Pots: You can use any type of pot as long as it has drainage holes. Try using colourful ceramic pots or repurposed containers like old buckets or crates.
- Hanging baskets: These are a great option if you’re short on space. You can hang them from a balcony or fence and enjoy fresh tomatoes all summer long.
No matter what container you choose, make sure it’s large enough to accommodate the tomato plant’s root system. A 10-15 gallon container is ideal for most varieties.
- Growing tomatoes in containers is a great way to enjoy fresh, home-grown tomatoes without needing a large garden.
- Benefits include space-saving, convenience, better control over growing conditions, pest control, and freshness.
- Before starting, consider container size, soil quality, location, watering, and fertilisation.
- Popular tomato varieties to grow in containers include cherry, beefsteak, and plum tomatoes.
- Container ideas include grow bags, pots, and hanging baskets.
- Don’t forget to water and feed your tomato plants as they grow.
- For optimum yield, you’ll also want to pinch out out the ‘suckers’ as they appear.
- When the fruits turn red and begin to soften, you’ll be enjoying fresh, ripe tomatoes straight from the vine!
Have you tried growing your own tomatoes? Which varieties are your favourites? Let us know in the comments!