Nothing says summer like the taste of a fresh-tomato right off the vine. No hothouse, store bought products can come close to the flavor and texture of a home grown tomato. Even if you have limited yard or garden space, you can still enjoy fresh-tomatoes grown on your patio, balcony or porch. You may even have the space to grown your own vegetable garden, but don't want to deal with the hassles and headaches of bending and weeding and preparing the soil. Tomatoes grow well in a patio container and there are so many colors, shapes and sizes to choose from which makes it very appealing to grow.
They love the heat so pick a nice, sunny spot.
Choose a disease resistant variety. Some varieties are bred specifically for patio containers and are shorter, more compact plants. There are two basic varieties of tomatoes, indeterminate and determinate. An indeterminate variety will yield tomatoes throughout the growing season and stop producing when the cold comes and frost kills the tomato-plant. Indeterminate varieties include Big Beef Tomatoes, Jet Setter-Tomatoes and Early Girl Tomatoes. The determinate variety will only produce tomatoes for a certain period of time during the growing season. Some popular determinate variety includes Plum Tomatoes and Tiny Tim Cherry Tomatoes.
If you are growing them from seed, start the tomato seeds indoors 1 1/2 to 2 months before the expected nighttime temperatures reach a low of 55°.
Choose a patio container that is at least 1 foot deep and 16 inches in diameter.
To transplant seed grown tomato-plants or store bought tomato-plants:
Dig a hole in the center of the patio container, place the tomato-plant into the hole far enough to cover the first shoot off of leaves. Plant only 1 tomato-plant per patio container.
Place a tomato-cage over the plant for later support as the tomato-plant grows and requires help to stand. Thick garden stakes can also be used, place 3 garden stakes around the tomato-plant at an angle so the stakes meet at the top, secure the top with a strong piece of string.
Water the newly planted tomato-plant thoroughly.
Every 2 to 3 weeks throughout the growing season add compost or liquid fertilizer to keep plants well fed. Do not use chemical insecticides, pesticides or any chemicals. Plant Marigolds with tomato-plants and Basil next to tomato-plants to keep damaging insects away.
Tomatoes need plenty of water, never allow the soil to dry out completely. Water your tomato-plants regularly and evenly to prevent tomatoes from cracking and splitting. If the soil becomes too dry and the tomato-plants receive a lot of water they will crack.
To pick tomatoes:
Wait until they are completely rip, pinch the stem just above the tomato to remove them from the plant. Green tomatoes will not ripen. In order for tomatoes to ripen off the vine, they have to have at least a little red color to them.