Tomatoes: Pot tomatoes for the urban gardener....

Albany, CA(Zone 10)

Anyone have any ideas as to varieties that do well growing in pots? Another way of putting this is, which varieties produce well in pots? When you have a small yard (or a balcony..) this is an important issue. Has anyone else dealt with it?

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Howdy Phred, and welcome to DG!
I can't tell where you are living (state or ag zone) so don't know what your growing season is. HOwever, many of the determinate varieties should do you well in containers. Anything listed as a "patio" tomato will be good as well. Your preference in tomato taste would also be a factor in what variety you choose also.

There is also a Forum called Container Gardening...you might wanna post the same question over there.

Again, Welcome!

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

About anything will grow in some sort of container if proper water,light and nutrition are given to it.I find this more important than the variety.

Determinate tomatoes are a little easier to handle size wise,but will usually produce the bulk of their harvest in a very small window.

In other words..for about 3 weeks..tomatoes everywhere..then they'll be few and far between.

Indeterminate tomatoes will have the harvest spread out over the whole season,but usually grow much taller.

There is a hybrid type that is called Indeterminate Short Internode that tries to blend the two types and the taste is fair.That may be something that you should check into.They are hybrids,so you can't save seeds each season,but tend to not be as lanky as the sprawling Indeterminate types.

Mobile, AL(Zone 8b)

Hi Phred
I live in Lower Alabama. We're so moist and hot here that fungus runs like wild fire. This last year my tomato crop died out early due to a soil fungus. I have to let the soil lie barren for two years - so it's container gardening for me. I'm planning on using 5 gallon buckets for tomatoes. They need 2 inches of water a week, and they like to have their roots as cool as possible.
Good Luck
Jan

(Zone 6a)

I raised several different varieties of tomatoes in containers year before last, with great success. I used 2 gallon on up to 7 gallon containers.....larger the better. Most important thing is watering about every day as the plants get huge, and of course, lots of compost and manure in the containers. The soil is EVERYTHING when it comes to raising tomatoes. I used dilute Miracle Grow in nearly all waterings too. Put stakes beside the containers, since most of the varieties reached about 6 to 7 ft. tall.

Owen

Albany, CA(Zone 10)

Thanks for the suggestions everybody. I have started thinking about container tomatoes because where I live we all have very small lots of land. In heavily urbanized situations like this it is hard to devote much of an area at all to tomatoes, and thus the idea of growing tomatoes in pots that can be placed efficiently in one's small yard or porch. A second consideration is that if most of your yard space is devoted to living, you may want to grow things that are somewhat "ornamental".... so I have been paying attention to those kinds of traits in ordering seed this year too.

Horseshoe, the determinate suggestion makes sense. Partly, because as a matter of personal taste, if I am going to grow a huge indeterminate variety I might as well put it in the ground. Melody's point about the relatively synchronous fruit-set is well taken too. I guess I might have to stagger the growing periods and grow different varieties if I don't want a feast or famine situation.

Jan, I have been thinking about pot size, and have decided to go mainly with 2 gallon pots... Coolness will not be a problem in our area. We rarely hit 80 degrees in the summer and often we have 60s and fog all day long. But, I guess that is relatively good news for the roots.

Thanks for the soil/water/miracle-grow suggestions, olambert. I think soil and water will be the keys to success or failure...

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Phred, I didn't mean to imply you could only grow determinate varieties in containers. Sorry. You could easily grow indeterminates but will need to place the container so that the plant can be tied up to something (like lattice or fencing) to support the growth. Also, due to the amount of upper growth (which could easily be 8 feet or more vs the 4-5 feet of the majority of the determinates) you'll need bigger containers and consistant watering.
Yep, you could stagger your plantings with the determinates. Or you could also consider planting varieties that have different maturity dates. For example, an early that comes in around 55 days, another that matures in 75, another that will mature at 80, etc.
It would also be great fun to consider growing some early to mid-season varieties then taking suckers from them, rooting them, and use those for your late season harvest!
That would extend your harvest period as well as save money and time by not having to buy more plants or start from seed.
All in all...just have fun! (and mater sammiches!) :>)

Albany, CA(Zone 10)

Horseshoe, I know you weren't suggesting that only determinate varieties would work. But, for me, I think I need to focus on small determinate varieties. This is mostly due to space concerns. I am under relatively severe space constraints at home. And, even though I have wrangled other spaces to grow tomatoes... I have decided to devote that space, as well, to trying to figure out which heirlooms grow best in 2 gallon pots in our long, but cool, growing season.

Beyond that, I think it would also be fun to play around with some crosses to see if I can create a variety or two that function under the same constraints, but bring something else to the table... I guess this means that I will have to have some indeterminates around too (for crossing).

The sucker-rooting idea is a good one. It sounds like a great way to enjoy tomatoes from a great plant, twice in one season.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

I think you're gonna have a blast! Great fun tinkering around like that, eh? eh? Love it!
Wonder if some of the "siberian" maters would be good to choose from for your climate. (Glad to see you added your location by the way...Albany must be northern Ca? With Oregon/Wash weather?)

Here I sit, hoping you keep records of your upcoming experiments, and pics!!

Orlando, FL(Zone 9b)

You might try growing cherry tomatoes in pots, too. I like Sweet 100 and that's the only way I grow my cherries. I buy the little tomato cages and stick them in right in the pot. Unfortunately in Zone 9a we sometimes get frosts and freezes. I can take in my potted tomatoes, but the ones in the ground have to make due with whatever sheets or blankets I can scrounge up to cover them with. "Celebrity" and "Sunmaster" have done OK for me in pots, but yield better in the ground. Regular feedings help when they're potted.

I'm going to try rooting some suckers to keep some plants in small pots that I can take into the garage when it gets too cold. Then I have tomatoes ready to plant come spring :)

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