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Summer is here and many of us are getting excited for fresh fruits and veggies. A great beginner plant for many, especially for container gardening, is tomatoes. Tomatoes are a staple to a garden and can be very rewarding (and tasty!) However, there are a few common mistakes that could really hurt your vines.
Picking the Wrong Bucket
For container gardening you want to always get a bucket with drainage. This could lead to mushy soil and overwatered crops. Size wise, a 5-gallon bucket is the typical starting point though there’s no harm in a 10 or 20. If you do use a 5-gallon, only place ONE tomato plant in to avoid overcrowding.
Lack of Support
If your tomato plant is directly in the ground a standard stake or hoop would do the trick. For container plants; however, that will not be as affective. A stake placed inside a container will likely blow or topple over the whole thing. Instead the plant needs support from above. You can use your gutters, for example, to help keep those vines upright.
If you don’t want to deal with the support, you can simply plant smaller tomatoes. Planting a determinate like a patio will produce much smaller tomatoes than the ideal indeterminate, but you wouldn’t have to worry about the vine!
This is an easy mistake to do. General rule of thumb is to check your plant in the morning. If it looks wilted or the soil is dry that would be the time to water it. You may notice it looks wilted in the afternoon, but that is just the plants way of protecting itself from the hot sun.
Tip: Remember your tomatoes need sun too. Make sure they are getting at least 6 hours of sun.
Like every plant there is a balance of nutrients tomatoes need to thrive. The best time to use a good nutrient soil is when you originally plant. Then WAIT until the fruit sets before adding more. If you keep adding fertilizer before it sets fruit, you’ll just produce more vines instead of encouraging the blossom.
A great additive is calcium. Adding some calcium, like Miracle Gro Tomato Feed with Calcium, will help strengthen the plant.
Not planting deep enough
Finally, the biggest mistake when planting tomatoes in a container is not placing them deep enough. For the plant to establish a good root system the plant needs to be placed 5-7’ deep or about 2/3 of the stem. This will not only give your tomatoes the strong root foundation they need, but by planting deep it will also even out the moisture (which helps avoid issues like blossom end rot.)
Hear for yourself! Pat talks about other tips and tricks to help you get the best out of your container tomatoes.
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