Homegrown tomatoes are incredibly delicious, but what do you do when you do not have room for a garden? How about growing tomatoes in a container garden? Tomatoes are one of the easiest plants to grow in containers and even if the only space you have is a 12 inch square on your front porch, you have enough room for a tomato container garden.
Choosing the Right Container
Almost any container will work for tomatoes, but grow boxes are very nice. Grow boxes allow you to control the flow of the water to the tomato plants which improves the chances for growing healthy plants and producing wonderful, ripe tomatoes. If a grow box isn’t an option, try and find a container that is at least five gallons or larger. Ensure there are holes in the bottom for drainage.
You can also try using bushel baskets lined with plastic bags with holes in the bottom of the plastic bags for drainage. Bushel baskets will hold at least three tomato plants and they look very nice sitting on a patio or deck.
Selecting the Tomato Variety
The dwarf tomatoes work the best in containers. If this is your first tomato container garden, try one of the cherry varieties for a patio like a Pixie II or a Tiny Tim. These types of small plants produce very tasty fruit, but don’t need a lot of support in the container. They will also produce very early.
Planting the Tomato Plants
When selecting tomato plants for your containers, choose strong, stocky plants to transplant into the containers. Prepare the containers by filling them with a mixture of potting soil and compost, approximately 50/50, ensuring it is thoroughly mixed. Fill the container to within a few inches from the top. Place the tomato plants in the container, three or four per container with between 3 to 4 inches between plants. Water the container thoroughly, ensuring the soil is soaked all the way down to the roots and below of the tomato plant. Set the container in a location where it will get at least six hours of full sun each day.
Caring for Container Tomatoes
Water the containers more often than a traditional garden because container gardens will dry out more easily. It will be necessary to check the container garden daily to ensure it stays moist and does not dry out. During the heat of summer, it may be necessary to water the plants daily. Check the tomato leaves for brown spots or for insects. Apply fertilizer every other week or so and apply it around the base of the tomato plant. If the leaves begin to turn brown or the fruit begins to get brown spots, try placing crushed egg shells around the base of the tomato plant.
When the plants flower, shake the vines to release the pollen and help pollination along a bit. The tomato plants should start producing fruit within a couple of months.
When the growing season is over, bring the containers inside if you have a sunny place to place them. They will continue to produce fruit as long as they can receive six hours of direct sunlight each day. This can prolong the growing season quite a bit. Growing tomatoes in a container garden is a great way to get fresh vegetables and maximize the space you have available.
It’s a good idea to choose your favorite vegetables to grow and plan beds for early, middle of the season and late varieties.
Most vegetables require at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, some need 8. Some quick growers like lettuce and radish can be grown between the rows of plants that take longer to mature, like beet or corn, thus making full use of the area available.
Vegetable Gardens Need Extra Watering
Throughout dry periods, vegetable gardens need extra watering. Most vegetables benefit from an inch or more of water each week, especially when they are fruiting.
During the growing season watch for insect pests. If you discover a bug problem early it will be much easier, but be careful to not use pesticides once the vegetable are close to being picked unless it becomes an absolute necessity. Organic gardening is one healthy and environment-friendly option. Once you have reaped your crop, put the vegetable waste into your compost pile so that it can be recycled for next spring.
It is important to protect your vegetable garden from wild animals looking for a tasty treat. Make sure your garden is surrounded by a fence that will keep out dogs, rabbits, and other animals. The harm done by wandering animals during one season can equal the cost of a fence. A fence also can serve as a frame for peas, beans, tomatoes, and other crops that need support.
Protection is needed in order for your vegetable garden to yield a bountiful harvest. Hard work will pay dividends if necessary precautions have been made.
Gardening is one of the oldest pastimes in the world. The healing nature of growing plants was recognized in ancient times. From the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to the cultivated plots among date palms in the parched desert, ancient people have been enjoying the literal fruits of their labors in gardens for thousands of years.
Today, gardening provides beauty and the opportunity to both profit from from fruits and vegetables and the prospect of enjoying the calm surroundings that are part of modern gardens. The joy of caring for growing plants is one of the simple pleasures of modern life.
Backyard Garden A Simple Pleasures
For those who wish to enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables the size of the area that is available for cultivation should be no barrier to putting food on the table. Even a window ledge can provide enough sunlight to grow herbs that will increase the enjoyment of any meal.
Aside from saving money and growing your own vegetables for the table, you can also use he vegetables you grow to provide the basis for nutritious and delicious energy drinks. Simply blend a mixture of root vegetables such as carrots and mix with other organically grown produce such as melon or even cucumber and you have the basic ingredients for a healthy and refreshing vegetable based power drink.
If you have access to a back or front yard with some space you can also plant fast growing fruit trees such as apple, which provide not only delicious juices, but also the raw ingredients for fruit salads or even a snack straight off the branch.
If you make the decision to start cultivating your own fruit and vegetables a bit of research can prevent a lot of heartache. Visit your local garden center and obtain the advice of an expert on which fruit or vegetable types are best suited for the climate in your area. You may have to change over to hardier varieties if your winters are particularly harsh or your summers blazing hot.
The advice that you receive will also help you cope with the almost inevitable insect infestations that can plague the gardens of even the most careful gardener. These experts will let you in on some secrets about the natural insect repellents that you can use to keep your fruit free from chemicals and preserve their natural flavors.
For those gardeners who want to simply enjoy the beauty of flowering plants or shrubs there is an almost limitless choice. However, make sure that the ornamental plants that you will be cultivating are suitable for your lifestyle. If you have young children or pets that spend time in the garden make sure that the plants you are growing are not toxic or harmful in other ways. Plants such as thorny bushes or cacti should also be avoided.
Planting and caring for your garden, no matter the size is one of the most rewarding hobbies for those who love nature. A bonus is that the pastime can be enjoyed by the whole family. Good wholesome fun in the open air, away from the distractions of video games or the stresses of modern life.
Growing plants require a nearly endless supply of the best nutrients to maintain quality plant health. This is true whether the gardener is attempting to grow ornamental flowers, fruits or vegetables. Fertilizer is often added to the dirt as a way to replenish the depleting nutrients that are sucked up by the plant life during growing season.
Organic and chemical fertilizers provide essential nutrients including potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen. Plant life requires these essential ingredients along with other valuable trace nutrients. Applying the right amount of fertilizer, and the correct percentages is based on a variety of factors, but are all highly dependent on each particular plant’s needs.
Testing the Soil
By taking a test on the soil, the gardener can easily determine its acidity, or pH factor. This will provide all the necessary information to determine which nutrients are deficient in the soil. The soil test can be used to help the gardener adjust the types of fertilization used to replenish the nutrients. Even the best testing provides only minimal results when determining how much nitrogen needs to be added to the soil.
Garden centers at the local home improvement store or hardware store will offer sample test kits. These types of tests can give the gardener significantly more information on the soil by analyzing its content. It is possible to achieve high quality soil without using a soil test, but requires significantly more guesswork in selecting the best fertilizer.
An organic amendment is often used in conjunction with strong chemical fertilizers. An organic amendment can be nothing more than compost. The organic matter will continuously decompose and leach out many of the essential nutrients it contains to provide vital ingredients for the soil.
Some gardeners choose to add bone meal as a natural organic substitute for blending in phosphorus with the necessary chemical fertilizers. Additionally, blood meal and manure can provide the necessary nitrogen, and pot ash can generate potassium. All organic amendment should be blended into the soils before planting begins.
When It Is Time to Fertilize
Each different type of fertilizer has its own unique time for application for blending into the soil. It is often listed on its bag. Traditionally, all types of fruit and vegetable plants will benefit greatly by having higher levels of phosphorus during the early part of the growing season. It is phosphorus that encourages the production of healthy stems and roots.
During mid-season, adding more nitrogen to the soil can help in the fruit and foliage production. However, too much added nitrogen will often create too many leaves and only a minimal amount of flowering buds.
For the consummate gardener, over fertilizing the soil can cause just as much damage to the plants as not applying enough fertilizer. When the gardener is in doubt, as to whether or not they should feed the garden plants more fertilizer, it is always advisable to wait until the plant life begins producing less. Only then can the gardener be assured that the proper addition of fertilizer is required.
Walking through the garden center of your local store, it is easy to get caught up in all the beautiful colors and textures of the plants. With so many choices available, you might fall into the trap of buying plants on impulse. Instead of thinking about how they fit into your garden design, you start filling your cart with any plants that catch your eye. Then, when you get them home you realize that there is no place in your garden that is well-suited to the types, sizes or styles of plants that you bought.
To avoid this problem, it is best to be prepared before you head to the nursery. Instead of just winging it, you should take the time to consider the growing conditions in your yard. Is your soil densely-packed or filled with sand? Do you have a lot of shade, or does your yard get sun most of the day? Pay attention for several days, taking notes about soil type, sun exposure and moisture levels for each of the areas you plan to plant.
If you really want your garden to flourish, you should also consider testing your soil. Most county extension offices offer soil testing for a small fee. Understanding the overall pH of your soil can help you determine which types of plants are best. Keep in mind that it is possible to alter the pH of the soil by adding certain amendments. However, it is almost always smarter to choose plants that grow well in the soil you already have.
When you go to the garden center or nursery, take your notes with you. Instead of picking and choosing flowers solely based on color and appearance, pay attention to which types of plants will thrive in your unique growing conditions. After all, there is no point in buying a beautiful plant only to have it die once you plant it because it can’t tolerate the conditions in your yard.
Once you get your plants home, it is time to arrange them. Before you start digging and placing them in the soil, it is a good idea to play around with different arrangements. With the plants still in their pots, experiment with different planting arrangements. Try grouping several plants in small clusters, or spreading them out in even rows. Pay special attention to the height of each plant when it reaches full maturity. Taller plants should go in the back of your flower beds, while shorter plants should go up front. Once you have an arrangement you like, you can go ahead and put the plants in the ground.
Taking the time to understand the growing conditions throughout your yard and garden can help you choose plants that will flourish. Rather than wasting money on flowers that are poorly suited to your location, you can focus on buying plants that are guaranteed to thrive. With careful planning and attention to detail, you can have a show-stopping garden that will add beauty and depth to the outside of your home.