By far the most popular vegetable (fruit?) that we sell is the tomato. There are so many different styles and flavors. It’s actually pretty amazing how many different varieties there are…There are only 2 leaf-types on the tomato plant so a majority of the plants all look the same when they are younger. But wow, do they look different right before harvest. It’s fun to see how the different varieties first start to put out fruit and to watch the fruit change color and grow juicier as it matures.
Tomatoes grow fast and there are a few things that you can do upon planting to ensure that your plants produce prolifically. Remember, these plants need to grow big and push out an abundance of fruit all in a few months time! So lets give them a hand!
When you are preparing the hole for the tomato plant, it’s a good idea to plant your plant deep, much deeper than you would plant other plants. Normally you want the hole to be slightly bigger than the plant you are planting. And, you certainly wouldn’t bury most of the plant underground like you can with a tomato. But placing the tomato plant nice and deep allows for the plant to be more sturdy as it grows. You really only need a 1/2 to 1/3 of the stalk of the plant to stick out above ground. The base of the plant that gets buried will push out roots which will aid the foundation of the plant.
Give the tomato plant plenty of space in the garden to do its thing, about 3’ for indeterminate varieties. If you are replanting into a larger pot, make sure that the new pot is no less than 5 gallons in size. For some nice function and style, I’d recommend these 5 gallon grow bags with handles for easy adjustments. Larger 15-25 gallon pots are necessary if it is not considered a “patio” variety. Patio tomatoes are determinate, thereby making them compact in nature and do not require as much space or staking as a larger, indeterminate variety.
Determinate tomatoes, also known as bush tomatoes, are varieties that stay small, about 3-4’ in height. All the fruit ripens at approximately the same time. Indeterminate tomatoes, also known as climbing or vining tomatoes, will bloom, set, and ripen fruit continually throughout the season until they are killed off by the frost. They will grow tall (6-12’) and have a large spread. Without significant staking indeterminate tomato plants will be all over the place and the fruit will weigh down the plants.
Organic Harvest grows and sells some of the best varieties for patio growing. Among them are Celebrity, Iron Lady, Marglobe, Mountain Princess, and Roma. And there are even a few indeterminate varieties that will do well in a patio container including Glacier (semi-bush), Indigo Rose, and Pink Berkeley Tie-Dye. And for staking, tomato cages are a big help. If you prefer tomato stakes I’d recommend these stakes and these clips. A very tidy setup.
When transplanting the tomato plant into the ground, soil amendments are highly recommended. You really want to get the biological activity rampant in the soil. Once you get the microbial life into the soil they will compound and multiply to make for a healthy soil, thereby a healthy plant. Mix a handful of quality compost into the hole you dug for your new plant. Top dress (a handful around the base of the newly planted plant) with earthworm castings for a nice blast of nitrogen to aid in keeping the plants healthy, happy and green. Feel free to add more compost and earthworm castings as a top dress every few weeks.
This formula will ensure lively, healthy plants which in turn makes for a bang up harvest. Growing tomato plants is easy and a lot of fun. The best part is reaping the benefits of the care you’ve provided and being rewarded with delicious, fresh, organic homegrown tomatoes. Enjoy!