There are people who read this article who have struggled to successfully grow a single tomato. There is possible a simple explanation to this and that is we try too hard. Many experts tell us that growing tomatoes is all about the right pH balance to the soil, the correct food to give, times of day when it is best to water etc. Well, if you ask other people that have been rewarded with a wonderful crop of tomatoes at the end of the season how they did it, they will probably tell you that they just kept the plants watered, and fed a simple food every now and then. I like the following article, it is a great simple resource of information.
If you have even a moderately sunny spot (four to five hours of sunlight will do, though eight is best), you can dig in some compost, set out some tomato seedlings in the spring after the last frost, and put cages around them. Water them regularly, and chances are good you’ll get tons of tasty tomatoes (PDF). The rest is gravy — how to get more and bigger fruit, how to get fruit earlier or later, how to deal with pests and other problems, which varieties will do best in your area, how to start your own seedlings. Whole books are written about growing tomatoes, but you don’t have to read them before you start.
So if you’re an orderly person, or you enjoy planning a garden, by all means plan first and plant later. If, however, it’s May and you know you’re not going to do all that research ahead of time, you can try the Compost Now, Research Later approach (CNRL, patent pending), and at least you won’t have to wait a year for your first tomato. If you plant in May, you can learn enough in June to vastly increase your harvest in July.
Eventually, whether in January or June or in little snippets throughout the year, it is a good idea to move beyond the compost/ cage stage. Knowledge about extending the growing season, pesticides, mulching, fertilizing and the rest will help you get the most out of your plants. There’s always the lure: the taste.
It’s astonishing how good a homegrown tomato tastes, especially compared to the insipid ones sold in most stores. Store bought tomatoes have improved over the past decade or so, but they simply can’t compare.
So as you can see now is a perfect time to start growing tomatoes. One of the considerations is where do you plant. In the ground is the most common way but it has its disadvantages. You require a yard space that has a lot of sun. The plants are more prone to pests like birds, squirrels and gophers. It is harder to sterilise soil borne diseases or replace the soil. However, if you choose this method you can plant most varieties, the plants dont need as much water as containers and the yield is often times very heavy. Lets take a look at more pros and cons as is highlighted in this next article…
In a raised bed
Raised beds used to be reserved for folks with a desire to do some DIY. These days, though, you can buy affordable kits that a child could assemble.
– They provide excellent drainage.
– It’s easy to customize, amend, and (if necessary) replace soil.
– Soil doesn’t become compacted from being stepped on, allowing more aeration for root growth.
– Raised beds, especially higher ones, require less bending and stooping than in-ground beds.
– Raised beds require an upfront investment for materials.
– Garden layout may be less efficient, as you need to leave space for walking between boxes.
3. In a container
– You can grow virtually anywhere there’s sun, including on a patio, deck, or rooftop.
– Pots are mobile, letting you shift tomatoes in or out of cold, hail or whatever else Mother Nature sends your way.
– No need to wait for soil to warm in spring, so you can plant earlier.
– Harvesting is often easier, as pots can be placed near the house and high off the ground.
– You must be sure to choose the right size pot for the variety you’re planting.
– Container gardens dry out more quickly than in-ground ones. During peak growth, expect to water daily.
– In windy areas or on exposed decks, lightweight pots may need support to stay upright.
– Containers should be filled with premium potting soil, which can be costly.
6 Ways to Grow Tomatoes in Containers
The remaining six ways to grow tomatoes all refer to particular types of containers, so the advantages and disadvantages noted above still apply.
4. In a bucket
This is perhaps the most inexpensive, readily available type of container.
– You can up-cycle buckets from your home. Bentley Christie of Red Worm Composting uses kitty litter buckets to grow tomatoes in soil taken from his worm bins.
– All kinds of buckets can host tomatoes: galvanized, 5-gallon, food grade, or whatever you can get your hands on.
– Most buckets remain moveable once planted, although they may be top-heavy.
– You have to add drainage holes.
– Metal buckets can rust over time, leaving marks on a patio or deck.
– Many buckets aren’t large enough to grow indeterminate tomatoes.
– Dark colored plastic containers can cause roots to overheat, stunting (or even killing) plants.
– Neighbors might complain about less attractive buckets, especially if you’re growing them in highly visible areas.
5. In a whiskey barrel
Handsome whiskey barrels are an all-time favorite container type.
– Large size provides ample root space to grow larger tomatoes.
– Barrels are decorative and complement many settings.
– It’s heavy and usually can’t be moved once filled and planted.
– Adding drainage holes requires a little muscle to push through the wood.
– Barrels eventually rot.
6. In a grow bag
Fabric grow bags are a relative newcomer to the container market.
– Grow bags allow increased airflow to roots.
– You can make your own. Debbie Glade, of Smart Poodle Publishing, grows a few dozen tomatoes in Miami, Florida, and used to make her grow bags out of landscape fabric (shown above).
– Most grow bags are reusable. Debbie washes hers twice after the growing season, bleaching them to help kill disease organisms.
– They don’t need drainage holes.
– Most grow bags aren’t mobile once planted.
– Increased airflow means more water is lost, so bags require even more watering than pots do.
7. In a window box
Bring the harvest to you by planting window boxes with tomatoes. Mark Ridsdill Smith of Vertical Veg suggests using a box that holds at least 1.5 gallons of soil, drilling small holes along the sides for drainage, and using a string trellis tied to anchors set into the wall above the window.
– Harvesting is a snap—just open the window and pick.
– Watering and plant care are convenient.
– The higher above ground level you grow tomatoes, the fewer pests tend to find them.
– You’ll want to stick with cherry-type tomatoes (either dwarf bush or vines), as the fruit is light and small.
– Window boxes require proper attachment, which may require some DIY talent (or a handyman).
– Strong summer winds can dislodge plants and/or boxes if they aren’t anchored well.
Which ever way you decide is best for growing your own tomatoes, remember to not over think the technique. It is possible to try too hard. By keeping to some of the more simple tips that I have highlighted above, you will find you will have a better yield. It would really help other people if you post your own success stories either in the comments box below or on the Facebook page. Growing tomatoes is both rewarding and fun!