Container Gardening Tomatoes

Ideas for growing tomatoes in container gardens from the ThriftyFun community.

Tips For Containers

I have used container pots for many years for tomatoes and peppers, even lima beans and string beans. They are so easy and there are less bugs, less weeding and can be moved if you want more sun. I learned a couple of things about tomatoes which may help. First, there are plants called patio tomatoes, which are smaller sized plants (but give nice sized tomatoes) designed for container gardening. Also, I had noticed black spots on the bottoms of a few tomatoes. This is called blossom end rot, not to worry, just add lime to the soil and work it in and it clears it right up. I have planted cherry tomatos, plum and beefsteaks and have had excellent results.

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By LI Roe

Merced, Roma, Heatwave, and Southern Star

I plant varieties such as Merced, Roma, Heatwave, and Southern Star (bhn 444) in 18 gallon (2.5 cu ft) containers with holes drilled for drainage I fill it with Miracle Grow potting mix, 1 cup of Osmocote slow release 13-13-13, 1/4 cup of lime, fed every 12 days with a high phosphorous fertilizer. They do awesome, just watch the high winds as taller plants may blow over if not supported.

By Atascosa, TX

"Window Box" Romas

There is a variety of Roma tomatoes called "Window Box" that would do well in a container, and another variety of cherry tomatoes that I believe is called "Tiny Tom" or "Tiny Tim."

A great fertilizer for tomatoes is fish emulsion because it has a high nitrogen content. The down side of using it is that it stinks so much. I imagine that yellow pear tomatoes would do well in a container; they are incredibly hardy.

The main thing to remember about tomatoes is that they are very temperature sensitive, so they won't do well in cool weather. Even if you plan to put them in a pot, I would leave them outside during the day to harden them off before letting them stay outside for good.

By Skbeal

5 Gallon Buckets

We have used 5 gallon buckets. Fill the bottom with rocks, then newspaper, then add your potting soil and other potting material. You have to be sure you keep them watered. You need to have drain holes because after a heavy rainfall, your plants will drown, hence the reason for constant watering. If your plants are sheltered from the outdoors, you will not need to worry about the drain holes. I prefer this method, as it is easier to weed, and they can be brought in when the weather begins to change, and here in New England, we have a short lived gardening season.

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By Laura

My daughter planted one of the patio tomatoes in a 5 gallon bucket last year. She put some corn cobs in the bottom and all soil was from our compost pile. The plant grew to about 8 feet tall, and so many tomatoes they out lasted the growning season. It was a cherry tomato plant, must have gotten thousands from one plant. A lot were still trying when the first frost came! Needless to say, we lost the rest.

By Rosa

I have planted some in 5 gallon paint bucket and flower pots, they turn out great. Tomatoes and mint were my very best plants.

By Elva

Containers On The Deck

I have planted patio tomatoes also. I have about a 4x5 foot square deck. Not much fits on it but I have good success with the tomatoes. Peppers and lettuce were another story.

By Sandy

Upside Down Tomatoes

Last year we did the hanging upside down bucket tomato plants. It worked well, we used 5 gallon buckets with lids. Plant your tomato plants in the buckets, cut a hole in the lid about 4 or 5 inches in diameter and put lid on after you planted tomato plants. Puncture holes, several on the bottom of buckets, so you can water the plants. Attach a rope or wire from handles or sides of bucket, hang from nails in shady area. This worked well for us! All you have to do is go out and water, and when ready, pull from vine, so easy!

By Vicky Hunt

Black Plastic Bags

All 60 of my tomatoes are in containers, big black plastic bags. I feed them home made worm tea, we have done this for years.

By Marsbar

Tiny Tims In Balcony Planters

I have been planting Tiny Tim cherry tomatoes in my patio planters for the last few years with much success. They are so delicious. I live in a short summer season area. If they grow well here, they will grow well anywhere. I plant them in balcony planters available at any department store.

By Marlene

When To Water

To know how often to water container tomato plants, stick your finger in the dirt. If the soil is dry on the top, but you can feel moisture further down, you probably don't need to water them yet. If it feels dry all the way through, just water them. I always water them until the water leaks out. That way, you can be sure that you are watering all of the soil in the container.

By Skbeal

Book Resource

"Square Foot Gardening" by Bartholemew is a very good resource.

By Denise

Manure Water For Container Gardening Tomatoes

For container tomatoes or in ground, this will make your tomatoes grow huge! Go to your local stables and get 1/2 bucket (5 gallon) of manure, fresh or old, doesn't matter. This is the gross part, take it outside where people aren't going to see it, and add water right near the top. Leave in a shaded area and cover to keep flies from being attracted. Each day or so, take one cup of the liquid from the top and pour it into your tomato roots. Replace the water as you need into the manure bucket. Tomatoes love it and you don't get any weeds from mixing manure into your soil. Discard after the season.

By Ann

Half Barrels

I have been growing tomatoes in half whiskey barrels. I water daily and feed weekly with a Miracle Grow formula. In addition, I add a tablespoon of Magnesium Sulfate (epsom salts) and a teaspoon of calcium chloride, all to prevent blossom end rot. The plants are now 7 feet tall with many blossoms and lots of set fruit. They need 6 hours of direct sun.

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By Sammy

Past Successes

I grew indeterminate Better Boy and Beefsteak tomatoes varieties in 10 inch self-watering planters in 2005 with super success. I caged, staked and raised them about 24 inches off ground to keep away the bunnies. I have 2.5 and 5 gallon buckets I'd like to use this year. I'm glad I stopped by this site.

By Bernie

Window Box

I planted my tomato garden in a 3 ft. window box because I didn't have enough room and I have 6 green tomatoes ready to turn red.

By Jen

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February 15, 20070 found this helpful

A frugal (cheap) way to prevent blossom-end rot on your tomatoes is to plant some egg shells in the bottom of the hole before you plant the tomato plants. The rot is caused by a calcium deficiency which is remedied by the egg shells.

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February 16, 20070 found this helpful

As some of my plants have gotten very large and have to be transplanted I use peanuts that are packed in shipping materials in the bottom of my pots, provides good drainage and makes the pot lighter, good for container gardening outdoors

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February 16, 20070 found this helpful

Thanks for all the tips. I've been wanting to do this for a long time, now I will be able to have home-grown tomatoes year round.

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May 7, 20070 found this helpful

I tried for the first time last year 2006 to grow tomatoes and green peppers in buckets and did not get one good vegatable out of any on my 8 buckets. I read all the quots and hope I will have a better year.

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May 7, 20070 found this helpful

here is a great website that shows step by step how to do the "upside down" tomato planter:

http://www.minifarmhomestead.com/gardening/tomato.htm

I don't have the set up yet to do this, my yard is rather limited in space, but my mother has seen a man do this in his yard, with this system.

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July 17, 20070 found this helpful

I have two tomatoe plants in large containers and they have plenty of green tomatoes on them. But they seem to need water everyday since they look very wilted in the mornings. They have had these green tomatoes on them for a couple of weeks now and they don't seem to be getting any larger or any new blooms on the plants. One has already rotted, turning brown at the bottom. Doesn't look like any tomatoes thie year.

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April 12, 20080 found this helpful

Do tomatoes like full sun or partial sun?

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May 17, 20080 found this helpful

This will be my first time growing a tomato plant [just one] in a container. I have no stones to put in the bottom, but I do have a few bricks. Would they be alright to put in the bottom? Of course, I will break them up. I have health problems & feel a container would be easy. It will be outside. Should I cover the plant with something to keep birds, etc. away?

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June 12, 20080 found this helpful

This is what my tomatoes look like. The plant is in a container. Can anyone tell me what could be the issue?

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June 21, 20080 found this helpful

My plants are doing good for my first time in containers. I have some early girls, romas, cherry,beefmaster, f1, and brandywine. I also have corn, bell pepper, green onions, lemon, and cucumbers. My strawberry are rotten, not good.

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July 22, 20080 found this helpful

linda (Guest Post) (06/12/2008), what you have is blossom end-rot. I have it also. It is from a lack of calcium. You need to use a spray of calcium, derived from calcium chloride. I just put it on a couple of days ago and have not had any luck yet. I know I am posting a month later, but I just read your question. I can imagine that you have already found the answer. If so, let me know how yours turned out.

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August 3, 20080 found this helpful

I set out to imitate the expensive Earth Box system.

This year we have 4 kinds of tomatoes in the self-watering containers from the Wal-Mart, about 12 inches wide (about $6 here in Canada). I put Miracle Grow potting soil in them and mixed in about a quarter cup of dolomite in each pot. I am filling the reservoir with Miracle Grow tomato fertilizer every 2-3 weeks.

I am using 14" cages but cut the bottom ring and shortened the legs. I use bungee cords to guy the cages to the rim of the containers. I keep the reservoirs filled since the weight is needed to prevent the plants from falling over - this has happened a couple of time in high winds (with very little damage). The big indeterminate plants empty the reservoir on a hot day.

The "window box Roma" from Stokes is heavy with fruit and has a very compact from. We are most pleased with it. For some reason the cherry tomatoes are not doing well in this setup - I think we have some kind of wilt, although there is a fair bit of fruit.

Yellow Pear has too much foliage for the amount of fruit and has become top-heavy. I think I fertilized too much early in the season. We will not repeat this variety next year.

Lemon Boy is also sprawling and hard to keep caged but has a good number of medium to large tomatoes. Our most successful plant with this system is Little Fingers eggplant - we are seeing dozens of fruit on our two plants.

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September 26, 20080 found this helpful

I had wonderful success this year with the Bush Goliath Tomato plants in containers. I planted them in May and moved them in and out of the garage until the danger of frost passed. Off of 2 plants we harvested over 50 tomatoes of about 5"-6" in diameter. Believe me I will definitely be doing these again and using more containers.

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December 7, 20090 found this helpful

I have had some good success with upside down tomato garden but mainly in my conservatory and not outside. Here is a good article on them http://www.practicalhomeandgarden.com/the-upside-down-tomato-garden upside down tomato garden and there is also a good tutorial on that site for making your own planter

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