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Tomato Time: Start Now for Summer Produce

There’s nothing quite like the taste of a fully ripe, juicy home-grown tomato.  A fresh salad or BLT is one of the true joys of summer, and it’s well within your grasp! 

The good news is that you don’t need a lot of space or even a yard to grow tomatoes. Many varieties are bred to thrive in pots on the patio or deck, making picking a fresh tomato as simple as stepping out your back door. 

Container gardening is very popular these days, and tomatoes are among the most popular vegetables to grow in pots. It’s actually fairly easy as long as you keep some things in mind—vegetables need direct sun and plenty of water. Now is the time to get started on your patio garden! 

Just like your favorite dish, growing tomatoes need a good recipe. Here are our tips for growing your best tomatoes ever! Make sure that you choose a reputable garden center for all your purchases. 

Ingredients

  • A decorative container with drainage holes at the base, at least 14” across. 
  • Choose good vegetable soil. I prefer an organic vegetable mix.
  • Choose seeds or small potted tomatoes to plant. My favorite varieties are Beefsteak, Cherry, Heirloom. Choose varieties that say they are container-friendly.
  • Purchase good vegetable fertilizer. Miracle-Gro is a great brand.
  • Small pea pebbles to plant at the base to help with drainage.
  • A water bucket to efficiently water your plants.
  • A pair of good gloves to save those hands.

 How To Plant

  1. Put on your pair of gloves.
  2. I always suggest nice relaxing music in the background. Make it a fun experience. 
  3. Put a small amount of pea pebbles covering the base of the container, only one layer.
  4. Fill the container 3/4 of the way full with soil.
  5. Dig holes for your tomato plants, making sure to give each one enough space to grow. You can use several 4” grow pots into a 14” decorative container. 
  6. Gently remove your tomato plant from the grow pot and put one in each hole, packing them in tight and adding more soil as needed.
  7. If using seeds, poke a hole with a knife in the soil and drop in your seeds. Gently pat to cover.  
  8. Put your tomato plant container in a sunny spot where it can be watered weekly and drain appropriately.
  9. Water in your tomato plant very well. 

Keep It Up

Make sure that you maintain your tomatoes throughout the growing season. 

  1. Thoroughly water your plant weekly until the water goes out the base of the container.
  2. Fertilize monthly-just follow directions on the package.
  3. Check your leaves for infestation often. Bugs love new tomatoes, so look for any residue on leaves. 

If you find infestation or worms, immediately spray using non-toxic insecticidal soaps that can be found in your local garden center. Or you can make up your own organic solution: make a hot pepper spray using cayenne peppers, garlic, olive oil, and liquid Castile soap. You can also mix water with liquid Castile soap for insecticidal soap. No matter what, never use chemical insecticides as you are going to eat these vegetables. One of the main benefits of growing at home is avoiding those chemicals altogether. 

The last step is to enjoy! I love watching as the tomatoes get riper and redder each day. You may have to purchase a stake or tomato cage as the plants grow to support the weight of the tomatoes. When they are ripe and ready to eat, harvest, and enjoy! And be prepared for the onslaught with your favorite recipes. Once they start ripening, you’ll have an abundance to eat and share with friends and neighbors. You’ll be the most popular person on the block! 

If you have more questions about plants, our friendly experts are happy to help. Drop us a line, and we’ll get right back to you!

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