Everyone’s talking about patio tomatoes these days, and for good reason. If deer, rabbits, voles, or other pests feast on your veggie patch all summer long, removing a few treats from their nightly smorgasbord is well worth it. Tomatoes in flowerpots, tubs, hanging baskets, and other containers look charming and are easier for busy gardeners to tend. And if you’re space- or sun-challenged in the garden, they’re a must!
1. Most container tomatoes are determinate. This means that they set their crop all at once, or over a very short period of time. And just because they’re growing in a container doesn’t mean they have small crops! Varieties such as Mega Bite Hybrid sport up to 60 big 4- to 6-ounce fruits at once! Be ready to can, sauce, and/or share the bounty! Or, if you prefer a longer season of harvest, take a look at Firecracker Hybrid, a British import with an indeterminate habit and multicolored fruit (shown at right).
2. Many container tomatoes are smaller-fruited than garden-grown varieties. It’s not just the plant itself that is more compact! Make a virtue of necessity and choose cherry or grape types in unusual colors and forms, such as weeping Tumbling Tom Yellow (shown at left), or multicolored, pointy Firecracker Hybrid.
3. Just because they’re growing in potting soil instead of the garden doesn’t mean they don’t need tomato food. Give your container tomatoes the same regime of Sea Magic and Algoflash that you would in the garden. You’ll be delighted by the results!
4. Water, water, water. Container plants of all types need an amazing amount of water, because they can’t seek it out deep in the soil as garden plants can. Tomatoes are thirsty anyway, so make a daily habit of visiting your container veggies to check for moisture. (Or, if this doesn’t suit your style, consider getting a pot with a reservoir at the base. We offer an all-in-one container tomato grower called the Tomato Barrel (shown at right): a 14-inch-dimaeter pot with a huge reservoir and an expandable trellis that grows with your tomatoes.
5. Have replacement plants ready for after the harvest. Quick-maturing tomatoes such as Fantastico (50 days from transplant), Red Robin (55 days) and Terenzo (56 days) will set their delicious crop and then be done before the end of July in some climates. Pull them right up and replace them with a permanent “ornamental edible” such as Blueberry Sunshine Blue, or with brilliant annuals that will see out the season magnificently. For pots, good choices might include the super long-blooming Pop Culture combo; for baskets, rely on amazing (and amazingly drought-tolerant) Calibrachoa MiniFamous Caribbean Cocktail Collection!