Growing Tomatoes in Containers and in Small Spaces

growing tomatoes in containers

The best tips for growing tomatoes in containers to produce a bountiful harvest.

Learn how to plant, grow and care for tomato plants growing in small spaces.

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The idea of a portable, movable,and convenient vegetable garden entices many gardeners when the possibility of tomatoes in containers is considered.

Container gardens are the perfect solution for may gardeners.

A sunny location on a porch, deck, balcony or patio can be turned into a small but productive vegetable garden.

Many vegetables, and especially tomato plants, can be successfully grown in pots and containers.

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Vegetable Gardening Tips for Tomatoes in Containers

* The soil in the pots needs to be changed every two years.

* Container gardens require heavier and more frequent watering and fertilizing than traditional garden beds.

* Plants growing in containers need light soil of at least 24 inches deep.

* Whenever possible, use compact, bush type varieties and start with transplants instead of seeds.

* Vining types can be used along with vertical growing supports such as trellises.

* If you are a gourmet or just like to watch them on TV, try cherry or mini red and yellow pear tomato vines grown in planters staked up to a firmly set post.

* Cherry and pear tomatoes are handy for popping from vine to mouth in encouraging children (and adults) to eat their vegetables.

roma tomato plant in a pot

Caring for Growing Tomatoes in Pots

In pots and containers, plain garden soil tends to become dense and waterlogged, which can suffocate plant roots.

  • Lighten garden soil with peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, or sand, or use a good quality potting soil in your containers.
  • Tomatoes in containers need watering more frequently as their roots are confined in the pots.
  •  Check the plants daily for drying soil. Do not let the soil dry out more than 1" below the surface.
  • A good rule of thumb is to feed the tLiomato plants with liquid fertilizer once a week.
  • Good container fertilizers include manure tea and fish or seaweed emulsion. Foliar-feeding works particularly well.
fresh tomatoes growing

Benefits of Growing Tomatoes in Containers

With a container garden, you are better able to protect your star vegetables from frost, insect invasion, weed invasion, or bird attacks.

The sun-worshipping tomato plants can be moved around to follow the patches of sun if you place the container on wheels.

Tomatoes in containers also frees up valuable space in a ground garden plot.

Best Container Tomato Varieties

cherry tomatoes growing

Sweet Baby Girl

Sweet Baby Girl is a hybrid cherry tomato that grows in long clusters on compact plants.

The dark red cherries are ready for harvest in 65 days. The plant is ideal for growing tomatoes in containers or pots. The tasty fruit has a long shelf life.

Burgess Trip-L-Crop

Burgess Trip-L-Crop is a climbing tomato that produces big six inch tomatoes on 12-18' vines. The large crimson tomatoes can be harvested in 70 days.

The highly productive plants often produce two bushels from a single plant. When grown on a trellis the vines frequently soar to 25 feet.

Tiny Tim

Tiny Tim variety is harvestable in 45 days. Perfect selection for growing tomatoes in containers or smaller sized vegetable gardens. The plant grows 18 inches tall with ¾ inch fruits.

Bag-Gardening Technique for Planting Tomatoes

An alternative form of container gardening is planting and growing tomatoes in bags.

  • Fill large, heavyweight plastic bags with the same light soil or soil-less medium you typically use for houseplants or starting seedlings.
  • Lay the bags flat and make slits through the top surface so that seedlings may be set into them. Punch out drainage holes on the underside.
  • Tomato plants require 18 inch bags that are often set into large cans to make them more mobile.
  • Commercial grow-bags are also sold that are sometimes pre-planted.
  • Bag gardeners have given this method high marks for growing healthy plants and that no weeding is required.
  • You can grow two tomato plants in each bag.
  • Growers who have used the bag gardening technique report producing 80 to 100 pounds of tomatoes from each planting.
  • Grow-bags can be used with a drip irrigation system but for small scale gardens they are usually watered by hand daily.
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