The Backyard

The Backyard

Friday, April 8, 2016

I Want to Grow a Tomato Plant on My Patio

Yes… container growing is easy and you CAN grow that tomato plant on your deck.  There are a couple of key items you must know and do to get that plant to bear fruit.   Some vegetables require specific care such as potatoes, so for this post, we’ll focus on a tomato plant.  It’s really this easy:
  • Pick a spot on your deck or patio that gets 8 hours of sunshine a day.
  • Select a container that is at least 18 inches in diameter and 18 inches deep with holes in the bottom for drainage.
  • Use good soil – my mom has been having good luck with the Miracle-Gro brand soil – the fertilizer is mixed in with the soil.
  • Plant only one plant in that big pot.  The plant will fill the container in short order.
  • Put a cage or support in with the plant.  Tie it up as it grows, or let the tomato cage do its thing and keep the leaves and branches inside the cage.
  • Fertilize with an organic fertilizer such as fish emulsion if you didn't use Miracle -Grow soil.
  •  Water, water, water.  This is really important as the summer heats up.  You’ll water once a day in the heat of the summer.  Check the pot every day by sticking your finger in the soil.  If it’s dry, give it about two quarts of water.
There are literally hundreds of varieties of tomatoes.  Many nurseries now carry tomato plants to grow specifically in a container.  Ask for the best variety for containers.  Early Girl” would be my choice, or “Sungold” cherry tomatoes for a container, but don’t be afraid to try others.  Burpee has a nice selection of container tomatoes and you can order them from the comfort of your chair.   Here’s the link to their page.

 Want to grow an heirloom:? Tomato Headquarters has suggestions here.  Heirlooms are harder to find unless you have a well-stocked nursery near you or can find plants via mail order, or grow your own from seed.   Treehugger also has a good article on heirlooms here.

My mother has been container growing for several years now, and for her, the key items were a big enough pot, don’t overfill with plants, good soil and water.  It’s so easy to think your plant looks so tiny in that big pot, so you add more plants or get a smaller pot.   Don’t do it!  That little plant will fill out the container fairly quickly.  The bigger the pot, the better.  And remember to check every day and water.  One day without water in summer sun will kill your plant.   Burpee has some other tips in this article such as putting the pot in a protected location away from winds.  Burpee also gives advice on pruning.  Follow these tips and you’ll be enjoying the fruits of your labor from mid-July or August until fall.  Happy planting.

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