You can enjoy homegrown tomatoes even without a yard. Containers come to the rescue and are great options for gardening in small spaces. Even if you have space for a garden plot, having this culinary staple nearby is worth adding a container or two near your kitchen door. Tomato container gardening is easy, particularly when you follow a few basic tips.
Look for a good quality potting mix for your container; never use garden soil. Garden soil tends to retain too much moisture when used in containers. Good potting mix that drains well while holding some moisture is one of the keys to successful tomato container gardening.
Bury the roots and a few inches of the stem of a young tomato plant in the potting mix. Unless you are planting dwarf or patio varieties, add a plant stake or tomato cage for support. Push a 4-foot-tall plant stake into the pot, about 4 inches from the plant. As the plant grows, pull the stems toward the stake and loosely tie with twine. If using a tomato cage, simply place it over the plant.
Containers dry out more quickly than an in-ground garden, so it's important to check them daily. During hot, dry weather, expect to water tomatoes daily. Be sure to add enough water to allow a small amount to drain out the bottom of the container. To reduce diseases, avoid spraying the foliage.
Before adding your tomato plant, add a slow-release organic fertilizer into the potting mix. We recommend using organic fertilizer when gardening with plants you eat.
Tomatoes can grow quite large. Unless you're growing a dwarf variety, you should use a 5-gallon or larger container. Consider plastic pots—they are lightweight and easier to move than ceramic. Make sure the container has drainage holes in the bottom. If it doesn't, drill three to five holes in the bottom of the container before planting.
Tomatoes love the sun. Place the container in a spot where plants will get six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day. Eight hours of sun a day yields the best results.