Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable? Whichever you choose, here are tips to help you grow delicious tomatoes in containers using your own compost. You CAN produce healthier, homegrown tomatoes even if you don’t have a garden or a yard!
What you need:
- Large Containers
- Access to a Sunny Porch, Patio or Balcony
- Garden Hose or Watering Can
- Potting Soil
- Homemade Compost
- Stakes or Cages to Keep the Plant(s) Upright
Large Containers: The size of the container you use for growing tomatoes does matter. Generally speaking, the larger the container, the bigger the plant will grow. Bigger plants equal more tomatoes. Using a large growing container allows the root system of the plant to grow and develop. A strong root system allows the plant to grow taller and fuller. If you have limited space in which to grow your tomatoes, you might want to select a smaller container which will limit the plant’s growth potential and will keep your plant restricted to a manageable size.
Access to a Sunny Porch, Patio or Balcony: Tomato plants needs direct sunlight for several hours per day. The more sunlight, the better the results. If your plant receives less than six hours of direct sunlight per day, your tomato yield will be smaller.
Garden Hose or Watering Can: Be careful not to let the soil in your tomato container get too dry. On the contrary, you should also not over-water! The key to success is keeping the soil moist but not too wet. The container you use should have an adequate drainage system; make sure the container is not allowed to sit in a pool of water.
Potting Soil: Make sure to use high-quality potting soil. All-purpose potting soil should do the trick. Potting soil is available at most hardware and gardening stores.
Compost Diva Tip #1: adding compost is the singular most important step you can take to preparing your soil for planting tomatoes.
Homemade Compost: The ratio of compost to potting soil should be approximately 1:4. In other words, 25% of the mixture should be compost. Homemade compost, created with the help of your Green Cycler, is ideal! Compost helps regulate the temperature of the plant’s roots and retains moisture which is especially important in containers.
Compost Diva Tip #2: Mix one cup of Epsom Salt into each container. Epsom Salt is a readily available source of calcium and magnesium for your plant and helps prevent blossom end rot!
Fertilizer: Tomato plants thrive when they are fertilized properly. You can use either the store-bought variety (organic is best) or, if you maintain a worm bin, worm castings work very well.
Stakes or Cages to Keep the Plant(s) Upright: Depending on your container size and tomato variety, your plant could grow to 5 or 6 feet tall! If you prefer a smaller plant, look for “determinate” or “bush” varieties. Virtually all tomatoes need a support system to stand upright and to keep branches from breaking when loaded with juicy large fruit. Use a tomato cage, stakes, or bamboo poles to provide your plant with the support it needs. Be sure to stake your tomato when it’s first planted to prevent disrupting the root system later.
Follow all of these tips, and you’re sure to have container growing tomato success!