Saturday, August 6, 2011


For my friend, Becca, who asked about my tomatoes, here is how I grow them up here.

I always plant my tomatoes in pots/containers and set them out in my front yard. Why? A couple of reasons...

1. My house gets very little full frontal sun - I get almost none in my backyard. Tomatoes need a lot of sun - so in the front yard they go.

2. I plant in a pot for two reasons - I don't have a bed where I plant in the ground. This would be ideal but for the aforementioned reason #1, I don't plant in the ground - there is just nowhere that gets enough sun, except where it's cement. I also plant in a pot, because while I love planting and growing my tomatoes, I'm not good about taking care of them in the fall/winter time. It's too cold to leave them sitting out up here during the colder months, so I would have to take extreme care of them, probably in the garage, as I don't have a greenhouse. I just don't have the time or patience to do that. I always plant new tomato plants every spring. (If they were planted in the ground, I'd sure take good care of them during those cold months.)

3. When I plant in a pot, they are easy for me to maintain (quick water every day or every other day depending on the weather), and I can easily move them into the sun if I don't think they are getting enough. Also, I almost NEVER have to weed them - a huge plus for me, since I grew up weeding my mother's tomato beds.

I plant usually just one vine (I buy starter vines from the local fruit stand) per pot/container, so it has plenty of room to grow, though occasionally, I will plant two smaller vines in one larger pot. I use a mixture of potting soil and fertilizer, and I will occasionally add a bit of Miracle Grow plant food to get them going. We've had a super late summer here so I'm just now getting color on my tomatoes, whereas in years past, I'd already picked several dozen off my plants.

I also usually plant a variety of tomatoes. I always pick an early girl. They are pretty consistent about showing up, well, early, and I like that. I also pick a grape, a cherry, a 100, a beefsteak and one year, I planted an heirloom (boy, was that delicious). This year, I have an early girl, a grape and a 100. The 100s and the grapes are super sweet and tend to put out a lot of little, red fruit, which is good, because my favorite summer salad is little tomatoes (cherry, grape or 100s), cut up with fresh, soft mozzarella, fresh chives and balsamic vinaigrette. Yummy. Next year, we're going to try a hanging tomato and hang it up near the garage on a hook...where my hanging baskets are, up near my porch, I get little to no sun, so they wouldn't grow there, but next to the garage is full sun, that is, when it is out up here. :)

We don't get a lot of pests around here chewing on my vines (like we did in Texas - grasshoppers, etc.), but I do get ants, so we put ant stakes into my plants to keep the ants away.

Remember too, to go pick off dead leaves when you see them, and if you get a bigger variety, like a beefsteak, you may have to put posts or metal guards in your tomatoes and tie twine (or use twist ties) from the vine to the guard or post, to keep your tomatoes from falling over or sagging.

Last note...if you ever run into a crop that just won't ripen, like we had last year, don't throw those beauties away. You can ripen them up fairly quick (click HERE to read how I did this last season), and make beautiful canned tomatoes for the winter.

Hope this helps some, sweet Becca. We have very different climates, you and I, but tomatoes are hearty little guys and they can grow just about anywhere.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks! Our neighbor has a tomato plant that's right against our back porch. It get's the perfect amount of sun and rain....unfortunately, the same spot on our side of the fence is covered by our back porch. lol. It always grows fantastic tomatoes and they always let us come over and grab some. Of course, this year nothing has grown. I liked that you grew them in pots so I think I might give that a try ;o)