4 Easy Steps to Planting Tomatoes in Containers

     Are you tired of eating those red orbs of cardboard that pass for a grocery store tomato?  Getting to a Farmers Market is not always convenient or possible.  What’s a person to do?  Don’t fret! I have the solution.  You can have your own fresh tomatoes on your back porch by following these simple steps.

Step 1: The Container

This doesn’t have to be a fancy container. Make sure it’s a good sized container at least a foot deep. I’ve used old 5 gallon buckets in the past. If buckets don’t fit your patio décor, use what makes you happy.

Poke a couple of holes in the bottom for drainage. Now you’re ready to start planting.

Step 2: The Dirt

Now that you’ve decided on a container for your tomato plant it’s time for the dirt.  Before you fill the container full of dirt, place a thin layer of pebbles in the bottom.  The pebbles will help with drainage.  Be careful not to put too many pebbles in or you won’t be able to move the container.

Drainage with shells

Once you have your drainage addressed, fill up the rest of the container with dirt.  I prefer to use the free dirt from the local land fill.  My fellow gardeners who frequent the land fill refer to this free dirt as ‘Black Gold’. However, for those of you unwilling to brave the smell of the land fill to collect your ‘Black Gold’, your local garden supply store will be happy to suggest a soil for your tomatoes.

Step 3: The Tomato Plant

There are many varieties of tomato plants to choose from.  I have had my best luck with cherry and Roma tomatoes in containers. Check out all of the choices and don’t be afraid to plant what you would like to eat.  But go ahead and pick up a cherry tomato just in case.

Tomato Plant(104003)

Planting is simple. Fill the container a few inches from the top with soil. Create a hole in the dirt that is wide and deep enough for the plant. I like to plant my tomato plants with the stem embedded about 4-6 inches deep in the soil.  Don’t worry it won’t hurt the plant and it also provides stability. 

Step 4: Tomato Plant Care

Once your tomato has been planted, it does require some care to produce tomatoes. 

Container plantings require frequent watering to keep them from drying out.  It’s best to water the plants at the soil line and not the leaves to prevent mold from forming. 

Watering the Tomato Plant

One thing you don’t want to forget is the fertilizer.  I prefer to fertilize weekly, but some container gardeners fertilize more often. If you are particularly motivated you can make and use your own compost or Miracle Grow works pretty well too.

     Now that you have planted and nurtured your seeds into delicious and ripe tomatoes, it is time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. In about 2 months you should be enjoying a nice grilled cheese and tomato sandwich.