Week 13 For Tomatoes

 Week 13 in 2010 was March 29 to April 4

Choosing Where To Grow Your Tomatoes

If you believe that you need to have a garden in order to plant tomatoes, think again. There are a number of ways to grow terrific tomatoes without having or needing a garden.

Tomatoes In the Garden

If you do have a garden then you already have a good place to plant tomatoes. Tomatoes need at least 6 to 10 hours of sun daily plus some afternoon shade in really hot climates. They accept almost any kind of soil, as long as it has lots of organic matter in it to help it hold moisture and drain well and is on the acid side (pH 6.0 to 7.0). Add organic matter such as peat moss, chopped leaves or compost to lighten and loosen clay soil or plant tomatoes in raised beds to improve soil drainage.

A Container Called Earthbox

Last year Nancy tested a new container system designed to grow vegetables, including tomatoes. It is called an Earthbox (www.earthbox.com). This plastic device which is a little over 2 feet long and 1 foot wide and 1 foot deep has a special watering and fertilizing system to make this a very low maintenance container.  It can handle two tomato plants.

Bountiful Tomato Plants with Grow Bags

For years now, gardeners in England have made the most of very limited garden space by growing vegetables, greens and herbs in plastic bags placed on steps, patios and landings. In this country the Gardeners Supply Company (www.gardeners.com)  has made improvements of this concepy and achieved terrific results! First, their Tomato Grow Bags are made of patented, double-layer polypropylene instead of sheet plastic. This felt-like fabric breaths better, so your plants won’t suffer from heat build-up, overwatering, or poor aeration. Plus, the fabric air prunes plant roots, resulting in a strong, healthy root system. They have demonstrated success using a Grow Bag for many popular crops — shallow for salads or deep for tomatoes, peppers and potatoes.  We got are going to try two or three of these interesting devices to see how they work; we will give you a report at the end of the season.

Gardener’s Revolution™ Planter

How about growing tomatoes upside down? It sounds crazy but the Gardeners Supply Company has come up with a device they call the Gardener’s RevolutionÔ Planter. This Gardener’s Revolution™ Planter has a unique top-down watering system that delivers the right amount of moisture to the container’s soil. The new, woven-poly liner opens up for planting, then zips shut — you won’t injure the plant trying to push it through a hole. The liner is also air-permeable to aerate roots and prevent heat build-up. An improved, two-part powder-coated steel cage encloses the liner, and the planter hangs from our unique swivel hook that makes it a breeze to turn your plant.  As with the grow bags we are going to try a couple of these planters just for fun.

Planting Tomatoes in Containers

In the final analysis we can grow tomatoes in almost any kind of container as long as it is large enough and has holes in the bottom. The only limitation is your imagination.

While determinate, or compact, dwarf tomato varieties purposely bred for containers are ideal, indeterminate or cherry type tomatoes do well in containers too, as long as they are supported with stakes or a trellis of some sort.
Containers must have drainage holes in the bottom and ideally be at least 1½ feet deep. Mix some compost into the potting mix initially. Keeping plants moist and protecting them from excessive heat are the biggest concerns.

 Plan to water thoroughly whenever soil surface feels dry. During the hot summer this may mean twice a day, especially in terra cotta containers.   For more information about growing any plant in a container go to our website at: Container Growing

So this season we are going to be growing tomatoes in our cottage or garden, and our backup garden up on the Hill, and in all manner of containers.

For detailed information about growing tomatoes go to our website at: Growing Tomatoes

The soil temperature needed to safely plant tomatoes into the garden is at least 70°. This morning my soil temperature was  39° ; we must be patient. I expect we’ll have the proper soil temp in late May or early June.

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