How to Grow Tomatoes

Tomatoes in sub-irrigated planters (SIPs).

Container tomatoes - here are some important elements for growing container tomatoes:

Sun. Container tomatoes, like those in the garden, need at least 6-8 hours of sunshine a day to produce a worthwhile harvest. If you grow them indoors, put them where they'll get maximum sunshine, moving the container from window to window if you must.

The Best Varieties. Dwarf varieties are the best ones to grow in containers. If you're trying container growing for the first time, try a cherry patio type such as Tiny Tim or Pixie II. They need little support (or you can let them trail from a hanging container) and they'll produce very early.

Planting. For fall pot plantings, take six- to eight-inch suckers or "slips" from tomato plants in the garden (smaller varieties preferred), set them in a deep pot and water heavily for a day or two. They'll root in one to two weeks and start growing soon afterwards. When you bring these pots or baskets indoors and give them a sunny home, you can extend the tomato harvest for many weeks.

Fertilizer. Tomatoes need quite a big food supply over the season -- they're what we call "heavy feeders." Mix a small amount of soluble, balanced fertilizer into the plants' water every week or so. Tomatoes like regular feedings of small amounts of fertilizer rather than infrequent, large doses. Side-dress tomato plants initially when the first clusters of fruit have formed and every 2-3 weeks thereafter. Two cupfuls of 5-10-10 or its equivalent are generally adequate for 20 plants.

Standard vs. organic fertilizer

- Many gardeners prefer to use a complete fertilizer such as 5-10-10 or 10-10-10.

- Organic fertilizers such as bone meal, dried manure or cottonseed meal are OK but most organic fertilizers do not contain balanced amounts of the three major nutrients - nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. For example, manure tends to be low in phosphorus so you must add bone meal at the same time to provide a more complete diet.

Stay away from high-nitrogen fertilizers such as urea, ammonium sulfate or fresh manure because it's easy to use too much. When you overfertilize high-nitrogen fertilizer, you get tall, dark green plants but with very few tomatoes.

Be careful not to get any of this fertilizer on the leaves or stem because it will burn them. Cover the fertilizer with one to two inches of soil. The next rain or watering will start carrying the nutrients down into the root zone of the plants.

Pollination. When the plants have flowered, give them a little shake in the middle of the day to help pollination along.

There are several support systems for tomatoes:

- Stakes
- Tripods and tuteurs
- Florida weave
- Cages

I like Florida weave the best. I use 1/2 inch PVC pipe (5 ft) over 25 inch rebar, half of it in the ground.


All videos from Cooperative Extension by The University of Maine

10 Simple Tips For Growing Tomatoes

A Guide to Caging and Staking Tomatoes

How To Grow Peppers

How To Grow Cucumbers

Container Tomatoes  - National Gardening Association

Watering Tomatoes  - National Gardening Association

Tomatoes in a Can  - National Gardening Association

Fertilizing Tomatoes  - National Gardening Association

Planting Tomatoes - National Gardening Association

How to grow San Marzano, A heirloom variety of tomato | GeekGardener, India

No comments: