How To Grow Tomatoes In Containers. Growing Tomatoes in Containers is so easy and you can produce an abundance of tomatoes in a really small space. There are two different types of Tomatoes to consider growing. Let me start by explaining the difference. I won’t be going over every tomato because there are over 10,000 tomato cultivators.
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Types of Tomatoes
Are Bush Tomatoes they are bred to stop growing around 3-4 feet tall. These types of tomatoes are great for canning. They are also ideal for small spaces and containers. You really don’t have to worry about them growing out of control and can easily be supported by some bamboo sticks or cages.
They can grow into one big bush like those in my pictures. Depending on the variety they can grow anywhere from 6 -20 feet tall. This type of tomato you can grow right up until November here in Ontario. Most heirlooms are indeterminate plants. I found using cages and sticks did NOT work well. This year I am going to use a top support and string with landscaping staples. Only for my Indeterminate Tomatoes of course.
Grow Tomatoes From Tomatoes
Last year I took a Better Boy tomato from our fridge. Which is means they are prominently a indeterminate strain. I sliced it into 4 slices and planted them in soil about a half inch deep. These were the results. Later I did plant them into a larger 200 Liter container on the left. I also used some bins as you can see from the sides of the bigger container. Better Boy tomatoes produce a very large amounts of tomatoes. I absolutely love them.
Grow Beefsteak Tomatoes in Containers
I found this year our tomatoes were medium to large size using a tomato from our fridge. However I am going to grow these again this coming year because they can grow quite large. One slice fills a sandwich! Common Varieties of Beefsteak tomatoes are:
- Big Beef
- Buckling Bronco
- Cheokee Purple
- Pink Beefsteak
These are only a few. First found in France and later Italy varieties were produced that looks like a beef heart in shape. Usually pointing downwards.
Start your seeds in March and keep them indoors until they reach 8″ or 20cm tall. Allow spacing of 5 feet. Yup that is right! These guys need their room to grow.
Grow Roma and Sauce Tomatoes in Containers
Sauce Tomatoes have a different look to them then normal tomatoes. Roma for instance and sauce tomatoes are not usually hybrids. I preserve them with our diced tomatoes. There are many different kinds. They are a determinate vine and can grow up to 3 feet high or 1 meter. Maturity takes about 75 days from seed to harvest.
The ones on the left are smaller and called sauce tomatoes. Roma’s are similar to these. I grew them for the first time last year and loved them. They are good for salads and sauces because they are smaller.
Grow Defiant Tomato In Containers
Developed in 2011 it was created to be exactly what the name says! The Defiant hybrid tomato is highly resistant to tomato viruses. Which can be ideal in some cases. It is medium sized bright red tomato. Furthermore, it is a determinate plant. Therefore you will need to train the plant to climb your support trellis. These types of tomatoes produces high yields weighing around 6-8 ounces.
The seeds can be started indoors 10-12 weeks before you bring them outdoors. Miracle Gro works the best during germination. Plant the seeds 1/4 – 1/2″ depth. They also only need to be 1″ apart. These tomatoes do require a place so they can drain well in your garden. (Check back as I update the post on growing these this year!)
Grow Cherry And Grape Tomatoes in Containers
These are another one of my favorites to grow. Both are great for freezing and fresh salads and sauces. I end up with bags and bags in my freezer to use all year round.
Start your seeds indoors. Make sure there is no chance of frost before moving outdoors. There are also many different varieties. These are the two I love and they grow very well in Ontario. Start indoors and plant your seeds 1/4″ deep. Seedling will only take one week to emerge. They are easy to care for and I always use Miracle Gro soil in most or all of my smaller containers.
Cherry VS. Grape Tomatoes
Although they are not as sweet as Cherry tomatoes they are still great to have in your container garden. Grape tomatoes grow a bit in a longer oval shape than Cherry Tomatoes. They seem to really thrive growing in Ontario mainly because they love the hot humid air. It is also best to keep them evenly moist and not let them dry out all the time. Both freeze very well and I admit having both on hand is really nice.
Supplies You Will Need To Start Your Garden
- Trays, Cups, or Small Pots
- Miracle-Gro All Purpose Soil Mix
- Fluorescent light or just do what I do and put them in your windows or shelf close to the window.
How To Prune Your Container Tomato Plants
How To Prune Your container tomato plants is fairly simple. The advantages of pruning your plants are that minimizes disease and improves airflow and circulation. Furthermore making it easy to support the plants when using a tomato ladder or other support to the plant. Removing too much can expose the fruit to sunburn. The leaves are actually a very important food source to your plant.
Learning How to Prune Your Container Tomato Plants
Identify what is the “sucker”. These will be the shoots that form in between the side branches and the stem. It will usually grow at a 45-degree angle. Remove them when they are small. Your goal is to maximize your production. However, do this sparingly.
How To Prune Your Container Tomato Plants If They Are Determinate
A good rule of thumb is to only remove the suckers that grow below the first flower cluster. I kind of let them go on their own only removing them if needed after that for support reasons. Don’t wait for them to grow very much. If they are the size of a pencil you can risk damaging the cambium layer from the main stem. Leaving the main stem wounded can enable fungus or other unwanted pests to attack your plant.
How To Prune Your Container Tomato Plants If They Are Indeterminate
Another good rule of thumb is to remember that only remove the suckers to the second flower cluster. Again the same rules apply to indeterminate to determinate tomatoes when cutting. Cut them when they are not more than an inch or two long. After that, you’re risking damaging the stem.
Video On Pruning Tomatoes
I found an excellent video that will help you identify the suckers on your tomato plants. He explains it in a very simple way! Until I get my video up this coming year I have found one just as good for now.
So which tomatoes should you grow for a larger yield?
In my experience, there is no difference in the number of tomatoes you get if you pick them while they are light green. It allows the plant to produce more fruit. Remember if you want a bushy plant that does not require much support use an Indeterminate tomato. They will grow tall rather than bushy. If you want your plants busy, determinate plants grow that way naturally.
Plant Pruning Tips
- Pruning is stressful to your plant. So make sure you don’t shock the plant where it will take some time for it to bounce back. Remember you are cutting limbs off the plant.
- Make sure your plants have good air circulation but do not expose the fruits.
- Indeterminate tomato plants only remove the suckers to the second flower cluster.
- Determinate tomato plants only remove the suckers to the first flower and then provide the supports.
- Cut the dead leaves off your tomato plant. You are exposing it to viruses and other pests if you don’t.
Pruning Overgrown Tomato Plants
You can still get in there and help your tomato plants thrive. Even if you waited too long. I found a great video that can show you how to do just exactly that.
Tomato Disease Identification
Tomatoes can be infected with viruses and other fungal diseases. If you think your plant has these. I found a great website you can use to identify what is happening and how to fix it. Tomato Disease Identification
Use Your Tomato Leaves to Make Tomato Leaf Spray
Since Tomatoes are part of the nightshade family they contain toxic compounds called alkaloids in the leaves of the plant. When they are chopped they release these toxic compounds that are toxic to pests like aphids. It is safe for humans but not those pesky aphids. To make Tomato Leaf Spray I have a recipe below
How To Make Tomato SprayDifficulty: Easy
Keep a bottle on hand for any signs of Aphids in your Garden
2 Cups of Chopped Tomato Leaves
1-2 Cups of Water
- Chop up your tomato leaves and soak in 2 cups of water
- Leave it to soak overnight
- Strain out the leaves using a cheesecloth or strainer
- Add one to two more cups of water or however much your spray bottle will hold.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Make a new batch with fresh leaves to keep on hand.
Products I can recommend to help you get started
These are products that I use and can recommend. I also recommend using Canadian Products like the Tomato Seed Variety Pack. They are a local company that ships right from Southern Ontario.
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