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Growing tomatoes in containers can be easier than growing using any other method and the results can be stunning! There are some basic rules for successful container growing and we are here to help. In climates with lots of hot summer heat, large pots can really heat up and the soil can be much warmer than in the ground so it is important to keep them well watered and as cool as possible. Potting soils are designed to drain well but that can be a problem in the summer when you want them to hold water a little bit longer. A little compost added to the pots can make all the difference. Fertilizer can wash out with frequent watering and leave your plants wanting more but a simple dose of slow released fertilizer goes a long way.
All you need is a sunny, warm place and containers large enough for the plants you want to grow. Sunny decks, patios, and other areas are great for container gardening and do not require the difficult digging that starting a garden usually requires. Most vegetable plants will grow quite large so your containers must be large enough and not too crowded. Container gardening requires diligent watering and regular feeding, but it can be easy and fun for kids and adults.
The main things you will need are:
For Planting Vegetables
You will need to allow approximately 18-24" in diameter for each plant. This includes tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, beans, squash, peppers and other large plants. These can be planted first and then you can add smaller vegetable plants such as onions, carrots, lettuces, or herbs around the bottom of the plant to fill in a large container.
Prepare Your Potting Soil
First prepare your potting soil by filling the container and adding plant food according to the directions on the package for vegetables. I prefer to use organic plant food or worm castings. Moisten the potting soil by adding water and mixing soil until it feels damp all the way through. Place the pot in the sun and you are ready to plant. Next, dig a hole large enough for the vegetable transplant, turn the plant upside down, tap the bottom, and gently pull the base of the stem until the plant comes out of the container. Place the plant in the hole and fill around the edges pressing gently. Water the plant immediately after planting.
Plants Should Get at Least 6 hours of Sunshine per Day
They can grow with less, but they will not produce fruit in the shade. It is also very important to keep your plants watered regularly. Put your finger down into the soil approximately 2-3" deep and see if the soil is dry at that level. If it is, then water well until water runs out of the bottom of the pot.
Staking or Supporting Plants
You will need to stake or support plants such as tomatoes, beans, & cucumbers, tomato cages or bamboo stakes work well. Follow the directions on your fertilizer package for feeding vegetables. Check occasionally for bug damage and worms which can do serious damage to tomato plants. There are organic treatments if needed in our catalog and visit our Insect Information page for common bug issues.
Picking Tomato Fruit
Pick tomato fruits when they are almost completely red and finish ripening them on your kitchen counter. Once they are soft and totally colored, slice them immediately on to a sandwich and enjoy. Growing vegetables is easy and fun and the payoff of harvest from your own garden is worth the wait. View recipes for your delicious Tasteful Tomatoes.