One of the true joys of Summer gardening (and Summer farmers markets, for that matter) are just-picked, juicy tomatoes. Luckily, you can grow tomatoes in containers, so even the smallest patio garden can benefit from a delicious tomato plant. There are some important things to consider, though. So whether you're getting a late start on a seedling or looking for some advice on tomatoes that are in your garden already, I've got some ideas to keep your tomato plants healthy and productive throughout the Summer.
- If you're growing in a container, pick a pot that can hold at least five gallons of soil per plant.
- For a container, pick a determinate (bush) variety, which will only grow a certain number of feet, and then concentrate its efforts on ripening fruit.
- Choose a tomato variety that has the letters VFN after the variety name. This means that the tomato plant will have resistance to verticillium and fusarium, two soil diseases, as well as resistance to nemotodes, tiny worms that can damage the plant's roots.
- If you live in a chilly climate, pick a variety of tomato that only takes around 75 days to mature, as opposed to some of the larger varieties, which may take 90 or more days. This way you'll avoid killing your tomatoes in an early frost.
For the rest of my tips,
- Tomatoes require good soil. Start with quality soil in your garden or your container, and then mix in three inches or more of compost or well-decomposed manure into the soil mix before planting.
- Try growing your tomato in a new direction: down! Use the Revolution Upside Down Planter ($19.95) for patio or deck tomatoes. Simply hang them from a hook and let them hang out and grow big!
- For super juicy, sweet, tasty tomatoes, make sure that your plants get at least six hours of sunlight a day.
- Water your tomatoes at the base of the plant, not on their leaves. Getting the leaves wet can promote fungus and other diseases.
- If you live in a hot climate, you may have to provide some shade for your tomato plants during the very hottest times of the day.
- Stake your plants to ensure healthy growth. You can use a tomato cage, or bamboo or wood stakes. Delicately tie your tomato plant's stem and branches to the stakes with twine.