Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables grown by homeowners. Luckily, you can grow tomatoes indoors and outdoors. Thus, you can grow these plants all year round. So, how do you grow tomatoes in containers?
Steps to growing tomatoes in containers
Step 1: Wait for the right time
The first thing to do is to wait for the frost dates to end. Tomatoes, in general, cannot survive frost dates. Wait for the night temperatures to go above 55 degrees Fahrenheit so that you can plant tomatoes. During this time, buy seeds and all other planting equipment and chemicals.
Step 2: Choose the right container
The next thing to do is to select an ideal container. The container you choose should be large enough to accommodate all the tomato plants. Also, the container should be big enough to enable the tomatoes to develop a robust root system.
For the best results, it is always advisable to choose a metal or plastic container. Once you settle on a particular planting pot, create drainage holes at the bottom to boost excellent water drainage.
Step 3: Select quality soil
Tomatoes grow best in soil with excellent drainage. These plants cannot thrive in soggy soils. Therefore, get quality potting soil for your tomatoes. Ensure you purchase your potting soil from a reliable manufacturer. When growing tomatoes in containers, do not use garden soil. Garden soil is usually too heavy for tomato plants.
Step 4: Plant Your Seedlings
Gardening experts advise growing tomatoes from seedlings rather than seeds. Doing this is much easier and will give your plants enough time to mature. You can always purchase tomato seedlings from your nearest garden store.
Ensure you choose the right tomato plant variety. Once you have your seedlings, plant them in the container. Remember to follow all the manufacturer’s guidelines for planting the seedlings.
Step 5: Put the Container in a Sunny Location
Typically, tomatoes grow well when exposed to approximately six to eight hours of direct sunlight. Therefore, avoid placing your containers in shady areas. Instead, place them outside where the plants can receive enough sunlight.
During winter, use grow lights to grow the tomatoes. Also, do not place the planting containers in windy areas.
Step 6: Water & Feed as Necessary
After planting the tomato seedlings, ensure they receive adequate nutrients and water. The soil should stay moist at all times. Therefore, you may have to water your seedlings daily.
Even so, be careful not to overwater the plants. Before watering the seedlings, dip two of your fingers into the soil to determine whether the soil is moist or dry.
Step 7: Stake as Needed
The next thing to do is stake your tomato plants. Staking provides a robust support system for tomatoes to grow healthy and upright. Also, this process prevents the tomato plants from being weighed down by rain and other factors.
Nevertheless, note that not all tomato plants will need stakes. Always check the tomato planting guidelines on the seedling packet to determine whether it needs staking.
Step 8: After your tomato plants are ready, harvest them at the right time. Before consumption, wash them before storing them at the right temperatures.
Growing Tomatoes in Pots
Growing tomatoes in pots requires you to incorporate certain practices for best results.
Some of these practices include:
Choosing the right type of tomato
The most important thing to do when growing tomatoes in containers is to select the right tomato type. Usually, it is advisable to avoid indeterminate varieties. Instead, go for determinate varieties that can’t grow past four feet tall.
Start with a strong and healthy transplant
It would be best if you started planting tomatoes using strong transplants. Strong transplants have better chances of producing a healthy harvest. Also, the transplants should be hard enough to withstand harsh climate conditions.
Use high-quality potting soil
You should, unquestionably, use a high-quality potting mix to grow tomatoes in pots. This way, you’ll be able to obtain a plentiful harvest. You can purchase a quality mix from a reliable manufacturer. Premium potting soil is usually the best. Avoid using old potting soil for your tomatoes.
Feed your tomato plant well
You need to make sure they obtain adequate nutrients when planting tomatoes. Tomatoes feed heavily, you will need to fertilize the soil constantly. Use organic compost or tomato fertilizer to keep your tomato plants healthy. Be careful to follow all the usage guidelines indicated on the fertilizer.
What helps tomatoes grow better?
As a gardener, you can use a broad spectrum of techniques to make your tomatoes grow better. Let’s look at some of them below.
Using the right space during planting:
One of the main tricks to growing better tomatoes is to use the right spacing when planting the seedlings. Doing this allows the tomatoes to branch out to their maximum potential. More often than not, you need to thin the seedlings to prevent overcrowding.
When you crowd tomato plants, you limit their growth potential. Additionally, you create a suitable environment for pests and diseases to thrive.
Exposing tomatoes to a lot of light:
As mentioned earlier, tomatoes grow best in areas that receive six to eight hours of sunlight. Thus, you need to make sure that your tomato plants receive enough light. You can also use artificial grow light to make your tomatoes grow better.
Switching on a fan:
Gardening experts recommend turning on a fan when growing tomatoes. This allows tomatoes to move in different directions, enabling the plants to form a robust stem. This technique applies if you are growing indoors.
If you grow tomatoes outdoors, they will naturally get swayed by the wind. Nonetheless, only turn on the fan for approximately five to ten minutes per day for best results.
Preheating the Garden Soil:
Tomato plants grow well in warm areas. Therefore, before planting them, heat the garden soil. Doing this enables the soil temperatures to stay warm at all times. You can also create more warmth by covering the soil using a plastic bag some days before planting.
Burying the Stems:
Plant tomato seedlings deep into the soil to encourage the growth of a strong root system. In turn, you’ll obtain healthy tomato plants. So, dig a hole in the soil and place the plant sideways. The seedling will naturally straighten up toward the direction of light.
The best type of tomatoes to grow in a container
- Terenzo F1:
One of the best types of tomatoes to grow in a container is the Terenzo F1. These plants can only grow up to 18 inches tall. Thus, they are a perfect option for containers. The plants also trail, which means they can increase the aesthetics of your outdoor space when grown in hanging baskets. These tomatoes are also delicious; hence consider growing them in your container.
This tomato variety is also ideal for planting in containers. You can plant about three seedlings in average-sized containers. Then hang the containers or place them in your indoor space. Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying your tomato fruits.
- Micro Tom:
As the name suggests, this is a small tomato variety. It can grow only up to six inches tall. Thus, you can plant many of them in an average-sized container. Not to mention, the Micro Tom tomatoes are incredibly delicious and perfect for salads, among other meals.
- Tidy Treats:
Tidy Treats tomatoes can provide you with a bountiful harvest.They can only grow to four feet tall and produce fruit early. Therefore, you can begin harvesting two months after repotting. Nevertheless, you need to support these tomato plants using a strong cage.
If you decide to grow Sungold tomatoes, use 16 to 18-inch wide containers. This is because these plants can grow up to seven feet tall. You need to support these tomatoes using a strong cage since they are large. Sungold tomatoes are popular among a majority of homeowners due to their amazing taste. They also give you the unique privilege of enjoying a plentiful harvest.
This tomato variety is ideal for pots and hanging baskets. These plants belong to the dwarf variety and can only grow up to one foot tall. These tomatoes have a heart shape and are relatively delicious. Expect to harvest about 40 to 50 tomatoes at the end of the planting season with this variety.
How deep do containers need to be for tomatoes?
Generally, when choosing a container for your tomato plants, you need to check the size. The ideal size of your container depends on the type of tomato you plan to grow. However, the standard height for tomato planting containers is approximately 12 inches (30 cm).
Always make sure the container can accommodate the root system of the tomato plants. It would be best to consult a gardening professional before purchasing a planting container.
This way, you’ll be able to choose a container with the right depth. Moreover, ensure that the container has an excellent drainage system at the bottom.
How do you prepare soil for tomato plants?
Before planting tomatoes, you need to ensure you have quality soil. Doing this requires you to prepare your soil accordingly. Additionally, understanding the requirements of your tomato plants goes a long way in helping you prepare your soil. Below are some ways you can prepare the soil for tomato plants.
- Till the garden soil
The first thing to do is to till the bed. Do this a few weeks before planting. Usually, the soil is ready for tilling when it is dry. Use a garden tiller or a spade to cultivate the bed eight to ten inches deep.
As you do this, get rid of any debris and impurities in the soil. Disintegrate all soil lumps. Then, fill the top six inches of the soil with compost. This procedure is important regardless of the soil type you plan to use.
- Cover the soil to warm it
Another soil preparation technique is to warm the soil. Do this by covering the soil using a black plastic bag. This way, the soil will be able to absorb heat more quickly.
The black plastic bag also protects the plants from transplant shock. Tomatoes thrive in warm temperatures. Thus, don’t forget to warm your soil before you start planting.
- Test the soil pH and nutritional content of the soil
Use a soil test kit to test the soil pH. Tomatoes grow well in slightly acidic soils. So, if your soil is alkaline, adjust the pH using muriatic acid. On the flip side, if the soil is too acidic, increase its pH by adding sodium bicarbonate solution.
Other than checking the soil pH, check the soil’s level of nutrients and chemicals. Apply organic compost and fertilizer to improve the nutritional value of the soil. The soil should have an equal balance of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
If you have no clue how to go about this process, take your soil sample to your nearest garden store for testing. The attendant will advise you best on how to adjust your soil.
- Compost the soil
The next way to prepare your soil for planting is to apply organic compost. Adding compost to the soil significantly improves its quality. Compost breaks down gradually to provide the necessary nutrients for the plants during the planting season.
Some of the most common ingredients you can use to make compost include peat moss and straw.
Best Soil for Tomatoes in Container (Potassium Rich)
Typically, tomato plants grow well in most soil types, except heavy clay soils. Clay soils are too bulky and hence have poor drainage. Thus, they suffocate tomato plants. Gardening experts advise growing tomatoes in loose soils that have excellent drainage and water retention properties.
Additionally, the soil suitable for tomatoes should have a higher nutritional client and allow maximum aeration. Growing tomatoes in poor quality soils affects the flavor of the fruits. Therefore, if you want to grow tasty tomatoes, you need to plant them in the right soil.
The pH of the soil should range from 6.0 to 6.8. This is because tomatoes thrive in slightly acidic soils. Therefore, always make sure the soil pH is within this range throughout the entire planting season. Make use of a soil test kit to adjust the pH of the soil from time to time.
The best soil for growing your tomato plants should be loose enough to facilitate proper drainage. Remember, tomatoes cannot grow in soggy soils. Overwatered soil attracts bugs and pests, so it’s not conducive to growing tomatoes. At the same time, the soil should be able to retain enough water for the plants to prevent wilting.
Is coffee grounds good for tomatoes?
Did you know coffee grounds can serve as a natural fertilizer for tomato plants? Typically, coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen. Thus, they support the strong and healthy growth of tomato plants.
So, the next time you think of throwing your coffee grounds in the trash can, pause and take time to understand its benefits. Gardeners can apply coffee grounds directly to the tomato plants or mix them with compost.
Coffee Grounds and Tomato Growth
More often than not, gardeners use coffee grounds to grow strong and healthy tomato plants. As mentioned earlier, coffee grounds are an excellent source of nitrogen. Therefore, they support the formation of a strong root system in tomato plants.
Additionally, they help in the formation of strong plant tissues. Coffee grounds also aid in the generation of the natural compound present in green plants that gives them their color.
Moreover, coffee grounds help in improving the water retention and drainage properties of the soil. Ultimately, coffee grounds boost healthy plant growth. Using them correctly enables you to obtain a bountiful harvest.
A good compost ingredient
A good percentage of gardening experts prefer using coffee grounds to create organic, rich compost. Integrating coffee grounds with grass clippings, wood ash, and other compost ingredients significantly improves the quality of the soil.
Coffee grounds are acidic. Thus, mixing them with other organic components helps in lowering their acidity. In turn, you stand a better chance of making your tomato plants grow better.
Protection against snails
Another major benefit of using coffee grounds for your tomato plants is that they protect the plants from snails and slugs. Coffee grounds contain caffeine, which is detrimental to snail and slug life. So, if you want to eradicate such pests in your garden, use coffee grounds.
Start your small tomato garden now
Ultimately, tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables gardeners enjoy growing. Tomatoes are not only simple to grow, but also delicious. Nevertheless, you have to select the right type of tomato plants you want to grow in your garden.
Afterward, identify their requirements and use the right containers to grow them. Ensure your tomato plants receive adequate moisture, sunlight, and warmth. Moreover, ensure they feed on the right nutrients for the best results.
So, apply organic compost and fertilizers to boost tomatoes’ strong and healthy growth.