As you can see in the picture, I’m starting off with planting in self-watering containers. The roots like a warm soil…and the container does that for them. You can cover regular soil with black plastic if you like….black absorbs heat and that helps keep the soil warm. I will plant in regular soil in a few weeks or so….once the regular soil warms up. From here on out, I will keep planting every month or so or when I see a plant I can’t resist. This way you will have tomatoes coming on for many months.
Where to place/plant your tomatoes?
Sunshine--Pick a good SUNNY spot. Tomato plants need at least 6 hours of sunshine. 8-10 hours is the ideal amount. The more sunshine the easier it is to grow bigger and better flavored tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes need less sunshine than beef steak size tomatoes. Don’t plant tomatoes in the shade.
Plant 2/3rd of your tomato underground. (Except Grafted Tomatoes which you do not bury the grafted portion of the stem) This means removing some of the bottom foliage. Don’t bury leaves instead remove them first. Only leave foliage on about the top 1/3rd of the plant. Roots will grow from the stem area where you removed the foliage. Bury this stem area and it gives your tomato a good deep root system.
When planting in regular soil---tomato plants like well drained soil……so the ideal is to dig a hole one foot wide by 1 1Ž2 foot deep….bigger if you can…..then add/mix in soil amendments/potting soil/etc. to insure well drained soil.
What varieties to plant?
Many people are into heirlooms which is fine however they are prone to diseases. Sooooo
#1 Get your favorite Disease Resistant varieties. Labels on each tomato plant will tell you if it’s of a disease resistant type plant and Grafted Tomatoes are on highly disease resistant rootstock. Once you have your standby disease resistant tomato plants Then move on to buying other favorites and last, try some new varieties.
Me, I like thin skinned, sweet side of flavor, medium-large Beef Steak size.
Some of my favorite disease resistant are: Better Boy is an easy to grow great tasting tomato. Big Beef is a big tomato with great taste. Champion produces early in the season,
Other favorites: Husky Cherry Red is an easy to grow great tasting cherry tomato. San Diego, the tomato that saved San Diego. Black Krim is another fine flavored tomato. A favorite Heirloom is the Brandywine….usually comes out the favorite in taste tests..
There are about 10,000 varieties of tomatoes. Each year try some new varieties with your standby favorites. When planting label each tomato variety so at the end of the season you will know the ones you liked most and those liked least.
What size tomato plants to buy:
I Buy 4”containers whenever possible. No Pony Packs and no 1 Gallon size. Too many times PonyPacks and 1 gallon sizes are stressed from lack of water and/or are root bound.
Buy 4” containers and buy healthy plants. Buy nothing drooping, nothing wilting, nothing with yellow leaves, nothing with dried out soil, nothing root bound, and nothing stressed out….sort of the same way you would pick a spouse.
Once you buy the tomato plants get them planted!!! Too many times, 3 and 4 weeks later those 4inch containers of tomatoes are still in those 4 inch containers and have been forgotten about and then remembered and are probably root bound, dried out and then drowned a couple of times. This is called Stressed Out. We’ve all been there, and those stressed tomato plants may not do well, so get them planted shortly after purchasing. A 4 inch container needs watering almost daily until you get it planted….and we tend to forget.
These guidelines on planting and caring for tomatoes in containers are meant to be followed in the spirit of what’s written and not by the letter of the law. Everyone skins their cat a little differently and each planting environment is a little different, so we adapt. Use whatever fertilizers and amendments you like and purchase products from wherever you prefer. Feel free to call text or email and ask questions. I don’t have all the answers to all the questions but I always have plenty of tomatoes & always happy to help if I can. Feel free to share my “EZ Tomato Growing Tips” with others also. If anyone would like the instructions on how to make your own “Self-watering containers”, please let me know and I will email them to you. In addition to tomatoes, they work well for most vegetables.
Thanks and Enjoy,