(Yes, you can!)
Maybe you have plenty of space for an expansive and abundant garden, but your acreage life is on a small scale with limited outdoor space, container gardening is a perfect option. Don’t assume that container gardening means that you’re limited to a few herbs and some colorful annuals! You can easily grow an assortment of vegetables in containers as well.
To cut to the chase:You really want to grow are tomatoes, right? Tomatoes are by far the most popular vegetable grown in home gardens—according to The National Gardening Association, 86 percent of home gardeners grow tomatoes.
But when we envision growing tomatoes, we tend to think of sprawling, out-of-control vines that take up lots of garden real estate. Beautiful and delicious, yes, but also very space consuming. So if you’re trying to garden in limited space, maybe you’re assuming that tomatoes aren’t an option, but that isn’t the case at all.
Tips for growing tomatoes in containers
You’ll want to put as much as you can in your favor when starting out, so here are a few tips:
- Consider conditions: Tomatoes in the garden need full sun, quality soil, and regular watering in order to thrive. Your container-grown tomatoes are no different. In fact, you’ll need to pay even closer attention to providing ample water since container plants tend to dry out more quickly than those planted in regular garden beds.
- Choose determinate varieties: Some tomatoes are indeterminate varieties and can grow to become massive, sprawling plants that produce fruit continually throughout the season. Determinate varieties are more compact, without the sprawling growth habit, and they tend to set their fruit all at once. You’ll set yourself up for a better chance of success by choosing determinate varieties.
- Provide ample space: Your tomatoes will be happiest if you give them plenty of growing room. This means a 5- to 10-gallon container in most cases. Some super-compact tomato varieties can thrive in a smaller (8-inch) container, but those are the exception. Remember: only one tomato plant per container for best results. Don’t crowd them.
Tomato varieties to try
So, what’s next? Is it enough to simply choose a determine variety? Are some better suited to container growth than others? Here are a handful of varieties proven container vigor:
- Red Robin
“I want to grow TONS of tomatoes in my container. Is that possible?” It is if you grow Red Robin. You’ll be impressed by its true “container" quality, but you’ll be even more impressed by Red Robin’s production. The plants produce impressively but all of the productivity happens in such a small amount of space—be prepared.
- Red Velvet and Cocoa
“But I don’t have room for a 5-gallon container on my tiny deck! How will I grow tomatoes?” With these twin tomato varieties, that’s how. These plants mature to just 8 inches tall and are happy in 6-inch containers. Best of all, in just 45 days, they begin producing delightful cherry tomatoes that will brighten your day, your table, and your meals.
“I only want to grow award-winning tomato varieties on MY patio. Which variety should I choose?” Lizzano won an All-American Selections award in 2011 and was praised for its high yields, high quality, and flavor. It’s a semi-determinate variety that reaches about 20 inches tall but is still very well-suited to container growth. Sweetheart of the Patio is a related variety with similar characteristics. Both varieties are tolerant to Late Blight.
- Cream Sausage
“Cherry tomatoes are cute, of course, but I want to grow larger tomatoes. Am I out of luck?” Not at all. Cream Sausage is a 3-inch, creamy yellow paste tomato that might be just what you’re looking for. Plants are determinate and reach about 3 feet tall, but are quite well-suited to containers. The only drawback for these gorgeous tomatoes is that they can be somewhat susceptible to disease.
- Silvery Fir Tree
“But I like RED tomatoes better. How about a tomato that’s larger than a cherry, likes growing in a container, and is red?” Meet Silvery Fir Tree. Honestly, you’ll plant it in a container on your patio just so you can admire its distinctive and gorgeous foliage. But once it starts producing, get ready to start harvesting its beautiful, 3-inch red tomatoes.
Perhaps someday you’ll decide to establish a large garden with raised beds and plenty of room for those sprawling indeterminate tomato varieties, but in the meantime, enjoy the delight that container-grown tomatoes can bring to your porch, deck, or patio!
Here are additional tips and tricks
Get some ideas from a seed house:
About the author
Samantha Johnson writes about the happy things in life—pets, home, family, food, and gardening—and thinks Mondays are the most wonderful day of the week. She fills her rare spare moments by crafting to-do lists and fulfilling the commands and demands of her bossy Corgi. View her portfolio at samanthajohnson.contently.com