Already published on my desertification weblog on April 13, 2007
April 13, 2007
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Google Alert : gardening
The News – Sentinel
By Nancy Brachey
Q: Please tell me how to grow Big Boy and heirloom tomatoes in containers. How big should the pot be and what kind of soil?
A: You have a great opportunity ahead, one that is shared by many people living in townhouses and apartments with little garden space. It is not hard to grow tomatoes in containers such as large black nursery pots, which people may have left over from their tree-planting. However, I don’t think you are choosing the best plants for this project.
The best choice would be one of the tomato varieties that grow to a set height, rather than produce vines that require a serious amount of staking and training.
I think Bush Celebrity is a good choice, but you should see others among the tomato plants this spring. It will still need a stake, but nothing like what your Big Boy choice would require. Also, Big Boy also does not possess the resistance to disease of newer varieties like Celebrity.
Heirloom tomatoes produce wonderful, good-tasting fruit, but most are quite susceptible to various tomato diseases. However, there is nothing quite as good as a Brandywine tomato in summer, so the risk is worth it.
The soil in these pots must be fertile and loose so that the roots can develop to the max. Buy fresh potting soil. Do not use last year’s or soil taken out of the garden. Garden soil is too dense for container plants.
Get a small amount of fertilizer formulated for tomato plants and use according to the timing and amounts stated on the label. This is a small project, so you should be able to tend those tomatoes like cherished babies.
The dicey thing is watering. The plants must not be allowed to dry out, and containers dry out much faster in the summertime.
During hot weather, that probably means watering every morning, taking care to keep the leaves as dry as possible. And because the pots will be in open sunshine, they will be at risk of drying out when July gets hot, as we know it will.