There are few vegetables (well technically fruit though many consider them a vegetable) with the popularity mass appeal of tomatoes. They are incredibly versatile and can be used for salads, Italian dishes, and a wealth of other culinary masterpieces. There are over 4000 varieties of tomatoes ranging from the cherry and grape versions through to the huge beefsteak kind. Unfortunately, in some areas, tomatoes can be quite expensive. The up side is that everyone, regardless of their available space can grow their own healthy, delicious tomatoes by creating their own tomato gardening container.
All that is really necessary to grow your own tomatoes is a sunny climate. Of course there are a few other odds and ends that will make it easier. You will of course need some containers. Five gallon sized pots work well. For best results plant one tomato plant per container. You will also need the tomato seeds or seedlings, soil, and wooden stakes to hold the plants up when they grow too tall. String is helpful for attaching the stalks to the stakes. You may find fertilizer and a plastic tray for drainage to be useful as well. Drainage is important in your choice of tomato gardening container.
Certain types of tomato plants seem to grow better in containers than others. Many experienced growers of container tomatoes suggest using the bush varieties of plants. Cherry tomatoes are popular because of their smaller size, but don’t let that stop you from experimenting with the full sized versions. Early Girl and Celebrity do well with tomato gardening container use, as do Sweet 100s and Christmas Grape. Decide what size of tomato you want to grow and what purpose you want them for. For example, if you were planning to use your tomatoes primarily in salads, cherry or grape varieties would be an excellent choice.
Of course sufficient sunlight is vital with any type of plant. Before planting your tomatoes check the area you want to place your containers for roughly 4-6 hours of sun. Sunlight promotes good, steady growth. The right balance of water and sunlight is crucial for tomato gardening container success. The next consideration is the kind of soil to be used. Most experts recommend using a prepackaged soil, like potting soil. This way you avoid transplanting any diseases or having a lack of nutrients getting to your tomato crop. Using store bought soil also eliminates any soil compaction that often happens in the middle of the growing season. Container gardening tomato plants will often die or produce less if the soil becomes compact. The roots simply can’t grow if they have nowhere to spread.
Two other helpful tips include the use of fertilizer and the practice of staking. Tomato plants are notorious for being greedy when it comes to food. They like it – a lot. Feeding the plants every few days is optimal for the best results. At the very least, tomato plants should be fed once a week with a good quality fertiliser. The option of staking the plants is entirely up to you. Some gardeners swear by the practice and others don’t believe it helps. If you do choose to stake your tomato plants, be sure to use twine or some other method to secure the branches to the stake. Also find a way to secure the stake itself. Failing to do so may result in the stake doing more harm than good in a strong wind.
With all of the recent attention given to pesticide use in the media, growing your own tomatoes is one way to ensure you know exactly what you are getting in your produce. It is also economical and convenient. There won’t be any more need for a trip to the store because you forgot tomatoes. The containers don’t take up a lot of space and even just one tomato plant can yield all the produce a family needs. The low cost of a tomato gardening container is minimal when compared to the high price of tomatoes in a grocery store. What are you waiting for? Pick your favorite tomato type, select a container, and you can start to enjoy the benefits of tomato container gardening.