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General discussion regarding the techniques and methods used to successfully grow tomato plants in containers.

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Old August 14, 2020   #1
dregae
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Default Heirlooms for containers

I grow plants to sell (not tons but it pays for my garden every year) and everybody wants to grow in pots which I’ll be honest unless you just don’t have a yard I don’t understand why everyone wants to grow in pots ( PLEASE Feel free to offer an insight on this because I’d like to understand). Anyways..... what are some good heirloom choices for growing in pots??? Thank you so much for any advice and insight!!!

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Old August 14, 2020   #2
PaulF
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Of course, container tomato choices depend on the pot size. A twenty gallon container will be able to handle a big plant. Five to ten gallons would be best for cherry tomatoes and many of the salad sized. A lot of the dwarf varieties would work in containers, too.

My experience with 5, 10 and 15 gallon containers and gro-bags is that regular sized, medium or large fruited, tomatoes will be smaller in size and lowered production compared to plants grown in the ground. Even smaller tomatoes produce less in pots. But then I don't think container growers care so much. They just want tomatoes.

Given the right growing medium, watering schedule and fertilization program, container grown tomatoes no matter the variety will thrive. We have folks who grow in containers exclusively and do well.

The needs and wants of the customer as to the type of tomatoes they want to grow and the size containers they will be using will help decide the variety. For me, the smaller the fruit the smaller the container can be. Then you will need to advise them on container growing practices.
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Old August 14, 2020   #3
dregae
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I’d love to know more about good container growing practices. This next year I’m going to grow some in containers myself so I can have first hand knowledge about it but I will take ANY advice and tips!!

Most of what I’ve seen happening is to small of a pot, multiple plants in the pots, no knowledge about watering or fertilizing regiments. Some of the problems were pretty obvious but I need to learn more!
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Old August 14, 2020   #4
Labradors2
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There are lots of reasons to grow in containers. I have a large garden, but I like to start some varieties really early and plant them in 3-gallon sized containers so that I can put them outside on warm days and bring them back in if the temperature drops. These plants produce fruit by mid-June to keep us going until the veggie garden varieties kick in. My favourites are Maglia Rosa and Taste Patio from Artisan Seeds.

Other reasons for growing in containers are that there isn't a lot of sun in the garden, and plants in pots can be moved around to catch the rays. Some people have nematodes in their soil. Perhaps they don't have the energy to make a proper veggie garden.

Dwarfs and compacts do well in 5 gallon containers, and another reason for these is that they do well in tomato cages so there's no need to worry about them reaching 6-7' tall.

Finally, there are the micro's that can be grown in much smaller pots. Perfect for growing under grow lights or on a sunny windowsill in winter, or for those who live in apartments.

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Old August 14, 2020   #5
Koala Doug
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dregae View Post
I don’t understand why everyone wants to grow in pots ( PLEASE Feel free to offer an insight on this because I’d like to understand).

I grow exclusively in containers - I have yard space, but it is fully shaded by large, mature trees. Those trees also have very extensive root systems, so that is another issue. And the soil is a thick, heavy clay which is difficult for roots to push through as they grow. To top it off, the deer here are voracious and will eat not only the fruit, but the leaves and the stems too. They can devour many plants right down to the ground in the course of a single night.

Because of the above, I have to grow in containers on my driveway (there is only one tiny patch of the concrete that gets multiple hours of direct sunlight). And I have to carry them into the garage at night and out again in the morning. Due to the carrying routine, I have to limit my container size to 10 gallons - I did use a 15 gallon container one year and it was right at the limit of my strength with a full-sized plant and moist growing mix (but the plants yielded better than in a 10 gallon).

For other people, another reason might be soil-borne disease pressures that aren't a problem with fresh container mixes.




Quote:
Originally Posted by dregae View Post
Anyways..... what are some good heirloom choices for growing in pots???

For containers, any of the classic heirloom dwarf varieties will work well. But my personal favorite is New Big Dwarf. I haven't tried them all though (I still have untested seeds for Quarter Century and Golden Dwarf Champion).

For non-heirloom (but still open-pollinated) varieties, any of the Dwarf Project tomatoes will work very well. Victory Seeds has an extensive collection on their website.

I still grow non-dwarf varieties too... but I just have to prune them so they fit within the garage door (which is the standard seven-feet tall). This year, I am growing OTV Brandywine and Dr. Carolyn (as well as two dwarf varieties - Loxton Lass and Dwarf Peppermint Stripes). But those large indeterminate plants would be happier in a bigger container - size, in this case, does matter.

You can grow any tomato in a container, but there are always trade-offs, as PaulF has already mentioned.
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Old August 14, 2020   #6
AKmark
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I have grown about a 1000 varieties in containers. They all grow just fine in a 5 gallon container. I put two plants per container, we pull 25-40 pounds or so per container. We manage our vines which will be 15-25 feet by the end of the season.

You need to use a complete fertilizer. I use 4-18-38 as directed.

We have also used organic lines by making a general use. Blood Meal, (N) Fish Bone Meal (P) as well as (Ca), Langbenite, (K) as well as (MgSO4), Azomite has your micro elements.

Do not use soil in your containers, your media should be fluffy, and does not need anything else fertilizer wise.
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Old August 14, 2020   #7
dregae
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Thank you! All those reasons are very sound ones and make a lot of sense. Most of my customers didn’t have any of those issues they just wanted them in pots and then they wondered why they struggled. There were watering issues, fertilizer issues and other things like overcrowding and I want to figure it out so I can offer better advice to them so this next year I’m going to grow some in pots myself so I really appreciate everyone’s advice.

I want to be able to offer some tomatoes that I know will do good in containers. I’m going to look into the varieties you all recommended. The only one of my customers tomatoes that even looked halfway nice was a determinant.
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Old August 15, 2020   #8
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Th secret is pretty much lots of fertilizer lots of water.
And actually going for a small container makes little sense, unless you grow on a window sill or some other narrow space or you plan to move them around (which I really don't recommend, sure, it's fine for a few microdwarfs but otherwise it will become a chore you will hate). The thing is, that plant will need more space than the container size, all you do is save money on container and medium (which is nice but they can be reused, so it's better to invest well from the beginning).
About 7-10 gal is a good size for the novice that will probably not have things like drip irrigation, or water super consistently. And for novices I also recommend determinates. One can have some pretty impressive crop from a determinate with not so much care, and there are plenty that taste good. They set fruit better, don't grow as tall, make more fruit per plant size.
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Old August 15, 2020   #9
Yak54
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I switched from growing in the ground to 15 gal grow bags about five years ago due to build up of bacterial disease in my garden from growing tomatoes in the same ground for 28 years. My first two years in grow bags was a learning experience for sure. But since I switched to 4-18-38 per AKmark, I have enjoyed tremendous success growing the same large vine indeterminate varieties that I grew in the ground for years. As an example, this season so far I have 4 different varieties that have produced 30 oz, tomatoes from each different plant. The varieties are Tundra, SOTW, Rosovye Krupnye, & German Head. Also my Polish plant has so far produced a 27 oz fruit. So my opinion is that you can grow pretty much any large vine indeterminate in a 15 gal container using 4-18-38. Two of my plants are currently 8 ft tall with the others at 7 ft presently and growing strong.

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Old August 16, 2020   #10
Tomzhawaii
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Default Aloha AKmark

[QUOTE=AKmark;759114]I have grown about a 1000 varieties in containers. They all grow just fine in a 5 gallon container. I put two plants per container, we pull 25-40 pounds or so per container. We manage our vines which will be 15-25 feet by the end of the season.

You need to use a complete fertilizer. I use 4-18-38 as directed.

Aloha Mark,
I hope your season is going well.
Just a few quick question about the 4-18-38.
Do you recycle your nutrients ?
Do you flush with plain water ?
How often should say one container get watered, using a coco blend in a 15gal tote.
Thanks & Aloha,
Tom
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Old August 17, 2020   #11
Shrinkrap
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I grow two plants in each Earthbox container, because I live on a clay slope filled with greedy redwood roots, in a really hot and dry climate.
I grow mostly Dwarf Project tomatoes, and also Maglia Rosa, and Principe Borghese.I guess they are not technically heirlooms, but they are "open pollinated".

And as an added bonus, Dwarf project seedlings are adorable!

Here are some ripe, some in the Earthboxes, and some seedlings.
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Last edited by Shrinkrap; August 17, 2020 at 02:34 AM.
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Old August 17, 2020   #12
zeuspaul
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I do better with 25 gal containers. I water by hand and anything smaller requires a more frequent watering schedule especially when it gets hot. I have a few 40 gal containers and they are better yet.
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Old August 17, 2020   #13
kilroyscarnival
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Here in Florida, especially in the areas that have fine sandy native soils, growing in containers is a necessity to many of us. I've been growing in 5- and 7-gallon grow bags, and have upped sizes for this coming year's attempts. The grow bags work well for me, especially giving me faster and more complete drainage from our heavy rains at the warmer ends of the season (which is fall-spring here).
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Old August 18, 2020   #14
GoDawgs
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I grow tomatoes in 10 and 15 gallon containers because about 5 or 6 years ago the soil in the garden developed a bacterial wilt that kills tomato plants just as they are starting to produce. The only vegetable that the wilt bothers is tomatoes.

Unless automated, keeping containers watered is a daily thing, especially in hot climates. I''ve found that mulching the top of the pots works well in helping the soil stay evenly moist, cooler and no weed seedlings.
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Old August 27, 2020   #15
AKmark
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[QUOTE=Tomzhawaii;759156]
Quote:
Originally Posted by AKmark View Post
I have grown about a 1000 varieties in containers. They all grow just fine in a 5 gallon container. I put two plants per container, we pull 25-40 pounds or so per container. We manage our vines which will be 15-25 feet by the end of the season.

You need to use a complete fertilizer. I use 4-18-38 as directed.

Aloha Mark,
I hope your season is going well.
Just a few quick question about the 4-18-38.
Do you recycle your nutrients ?
Do you flush with plain water ?
How often should say one container get watered, using a coco blend in a 15gal tote.
Thanks & Aloha,
Tom
No, I want just a tiny amount to leech out, not enough to reuse.

Watering depends on sun and heat as well as the size of the plant. On hot days I water no less than three times a day. Use the mix every time you water.

I do not flush at all, no need has ever arose to do so.


It has been a blockbuster year. I wish I knew how to post pics from my phone.

Anyway, the stuff is great
Take care,
Mark
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