Container gardening tips from a pro

Jerome Powell

If you crave the taste of luscious, homegrown tomatoes but don’t have the space to manage a full-sized garden, then container gardening might be just the thing for you. Tomatoes are the home gardener’s most beloved veggie (actually, a fruit) but other vegetables may be grown successfully in containers as well.

What you need

A sunny location. Tomatoes need six to eight hours of sun a day. The plants should be protected from wind. Scout around for the best spot, whether that’s a front porch, back deck or apartment patio ledge.

Tomatoes are one of the most popular backyard garden growers.

Pots. You’ll need flowerpots or other containers at least 14-inches in diameter that hold at least 5 gallons of soil. (Larger pots support more root mass and water that plants will need to get through summer days.) Just a few productive pots will do to keep a small family eating tomatoes all summer. Make sure the bottom of the container has drainage holes; otherwise, root rots are likely to occur.

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Tomatoes will do well growing in containers on a deck or patio.

Soil: Use an all-purpose potting mix containing compost and/or peat moss, vermiculite and/or perlite. Don’t just scoop up soil from the garden. This is typically too dense to allow for adequate aeration and drainage.

Seeds or transplants: Midget, patio or dwarf varieties have compact vines and are good choices for container gardening. Look for labels that say “compact” or “for containers.” Full sized varieties grow tall and will require too much support for a small container but could be grown in a 15 gallon or half-barrel size container. The added leaf surface of larger plants provides more sugars for flavor development of the tomatoes. Choose disease resistant varieties.

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