Growing Patio Planter Tomatoes

TomatoesThere is nothing like a fresh, homegrown tomato in the summertime. But not everyone wants to maintain a vegetable garden. With patio planters you can have fresh tomatoes without all the work of a garden. Besides being less work patio planters are a good alternative for growing tomatoes for a number of reasons. If you lack space, an area in the yard that receives full sun or have poor drainage because of unleveled ground, patio planters may be the perfect solution.

Patio Planters

Most tomato varieties will thrive in a container of the proper size and drainage. Texas A&M Extension even recommends growing small fruited tomatoes such as cherry or grape tomatoes in hanging baskets. Most tomatoes should be grown in a container that can hold at least 5 gallons and is 12 inches in diameter. Tomatoes should be planted one plant per container. Depending on the type of tomato you will want to either stake the tomato or support it with a cage. Bush type tomatoes will prefer a cage and vining tomatoes will need to be staked. Ohio State Extension  warns that the stake should be place in the container as it is initially being filled with potting media. Tomatoes do not grow well from seed outdoors. Either use a transplant purchased from a nursery or start your own seeds indoors 5-6 weeks before you want to move them outside. In either case, wait until danger of frost has past before planting outdoors. If frost threatens, one advantage of a patio planter is that it can be moved to a warmer location such as a garage. Try to place the patio planter in a place where it will get 8 hours of sun a day. If necessary you can also move the planter to the sunniest spaces of your patio throughout the day.

Water

The type of container will also determine watering needs. Clay pots will dry faster and plastic pots will retain water longer. If you live in a dry climate you may want to use a plastic planter and in wet climates you may want to use clay. The planter you use must have drainage holes. Texas A&M Extension recommends adding 1 inch of coarse gravel on the bottom to improve drainage. Tomatoes will most likely need water once a day. Before you water, check the soil to make sure it is dry. A planter that remains soggy will cause the roots to rot. If the planter looses moisture too quickly consider adding a layer of mulch such as straw or shredded bark.

Potting Media

Fill the patio planter with a good, rich potting medium. Do not use garden soil as it could introduce diseases and is usually too dense to promote adequate drainage. Ohio State Extenion recommends using one part each potting soil, sphagnum peat moss, perlite and compost.

With a little care and a sunny spot you can have delicious tomatoes close to your back door. Patio planters are the perfect way to avoid tilling up a garden and they are easy to monitor and maintain. Have you grown tomatoes in a container? What is your favorite variety?

Photo “Tomatoes” courtesy of Ajith Kumar

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