Growing Tomatoes

I’ve had mixed results growing tomatoes. Tomatoes take up a lot of room, so I usually try to grow them in the backyard; an area that gets about 3-4 hours direct sun a day. This is usually much less than sun-loving plants require.

The first time I planted tomatoes, they grew OK A little spindley since they didn’t get as much light as they needed, but they did produce a few tomatoes. The next year, I planted several plants, figuring that if I got a few tomatoes from each plant, it would add up to a lot of tomatoes.  That year, I didn’t get any fruit. I was so discouraged that I didn’t try again for many years.

This year, I decided to try planting in the bed in front of my condo. It gets sun for about 5 hours each day. I had not planted anything but flowers there until last year when I planted some basil and parsley. They had done very well, so I bought two patio tomatoes to plant in front.

I chose the patio variety because they have stout stems and don’t grow very tall. I didn’t want them sprawling all over the bed, and stakes tend to look messy – especially out in front.

"Patio" tomato in a container

"Patio" tomato in a container

My wife wanted me to plant one of the tomatoes in back, so I took a good-sized pot and filled it with container mix and planted it for her.  I had low expectations for it considering my past experiences.

To my surprise, it is doing very well! It’s actually doing a little better than the one I planted in front. This may be because the container mix is looser than the soil in the front bed, and most potting soil comes with enough fertilizer mixed in to last about three months.

The success of this plant is even more suprising since we have had a cool wet spring. Lots of moisture and cloudy weather. I was concerned that the soil would hold the water like a sponge and drown the plant. The cloudy weather meant even less direct sunlight than normal. But, as you can see, it is doing quite well.

Serious Eats, one of my favorite food blogs, has a good article on container gardening. You can read it here.


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