4 Top tips to Grow tomatoes in containers and pots

I decided to have a go at growing tomatoes in pots this year and have been very pleased with them. I always grow tomatoes in my garden plot but added pots this year. I know the ones in the ground will work fine – they have done for thirty years. But growing my tomatoes in containers is anew departure for me.

The comparison between the pot grown tomato and those in the ground.

I grew 2 varieties this year moneymaker and an Italian cherry tomato variety. These seeds came with a vegetable magazine. I started off the seeds indoors in march and let them grow on in my conservatory. I always have far to many plants and ended up giving most of them away to friends. Once the risk of frost had gone I set them out in the garder and in my containers and within a month I was picking tomatoes. I have had a succesion of healthy and tasty tomatoes all season. There were a few differences with the pot grown tomatoes that are worth mentioning.

Firstly the moneymaker tomatoes were slightly smaller than the ones grown on my plot.

Secondly there were not quite as many cherry tomatoes in the containers.

Other than that the results were very similar. You may not know that the taste of home grown tomatoes is far superior to shop ones. For the container grown tomatoes

I did treat them differently and with a bit more care.

Make sure you put tomato plants in a really big pot.

I like the root systems to have plenty of room and not become pot bound. You also need a big container to have enough depth for the support canes. I used what I had to hand which was red terracotta pots but you can use anything as long as it is big enough.

Water your tomatoes even if it rains.

We have had a dreadful summer in the UK this year and it has rained constantly. I had to check the pot grown plants more regularly as they did appear to be wilting on some days. The plants in the veg plot did not need this. The pot is protected by the leaves of the tomato plant and the water cannot get through to it. Not all the water gets through to the plant roots. This is why I check them daily.

Be ruthless with pinching out side shoots on the tomato plants.

I only pinch out once or twice a season when growing tomatoes in the ground because they seem to do fine. I have learned this through trial and error. The moneymaker plants in pots were pinched out once a week to ensure that the fruits I did get were big enough and juicy enough. With cherry tomatoes there is no need to pinch them out as they provide plenty of fruit naturally. They take care of themselves and always give plenty of harvest.

Remove excess foliage once you have the tomato fruits.

I have always done this to tomatoes and do not know where I picked this tip up. Once you have all the tomatoes set on the plant remove any leaves that are hiding the fruit from the sun. Some people pick their tomatoes when green and ripen them under glass but I like them to ripen on the vine. By taking the leaves off you can get bigger tomatoes.

Growing tomatoes in containers

If you have missed this tomato season then I encourage you to plan ahead for your tomato growing in 2009. Try growing tomatoes in containers this year instead of just in the ground. You will love the sense of acheivement from finding a sunny spot and growing these tomatoes.