In this, the last of her series on tomatoes, Cathy Isom tells you some tips for growing tomatoes in containers. That’s coming up on This Land of Ours.
Tomatoes are not the easiest, but they are a favorite plant to grow. Growing tomatoes in containers can be hugely satisfying or a flat-out disaster. Sometimes there is nothing you can do to prevent tomato fail, whether it’s because of bad weather, a late blight, or critter problems. However, there are some guidelines that you can follow to improve your chances of tomato success.
For starters, use really big containers. The bigger the better. For one plant, you need a pot or container that is at least one square foot but 2 square feet is better. Five-gallon buckets are the perfect size for one plant.
Always plant tomatoes deeply. Dig a hole so that most of your plant is covered by soil (though you will want to make sure you have leaves sticking out of the soil). Make sure that you remove all the leaves and branches below the soil line.
Always give your tomato plants plenty of water, but not too much. Get in the routine of watering them in the morning, as plants take up and use water more efficiently during that time. Make sure to water the soil, not the plants, as wet leaves can encourage blight and fungus.
It is critical to feed your tomatoes. If your potting soil doesn’t have fertilizer already in it, you will need to add a slow-release fertilizer to your potting soil, making sure to mix it in throughout your container. Try a tomato-specific fertilizer, though you can use any all-purpose, slow-release fertilizer.
Lastly, make sure your tomato plants are getting a good sunbathing. Tomatoes will be okay with 6-plus hours of full sun—which is the bare minimum, but 8-plus hours is better. Either use a sun calculator or go out and check your tomato containers several times over the day to time how much sun they are getting.
I’m Cathy Isom…