Growing Patio Tomatoes
One of the true pleasures of summer is biting into a ripe, juicy tomato fresh from the garden. But what if you don’t have space for a garden? Not to worry! Even if you have the smallest patio, deck, or balcony, you can grow fresh tomatoes all summer long. If you follow the guidelines below, you’ll have homegrown tomatoes on your dinner table in no time.
Patio and Patio Hybrid Tomatoes have been designed specifically to grow on patios, and choosing them for your patio, deck, or balcony container garden is a no-brainer. They grow to about two feet tall and have become one of the most popular small container plants sold in the US. They are a determinate variety, which means they grow compactly and produce fruits close together. They have strong stems and a bush-type shape which make them perfect for your patio.
If you are growing dwarf tomatoes in containers, you need well-drained, rich soil. You can buy potting soil for tomatoes at your local garden center. Be sure you plant your patio tomatoes in a container with a drainage hole; this will allow for proper drainage of your soil.
If you live in a warm climate, you can start seeds in April. In climates with a shorter growing season, start with a nursery-bought seedling in mid-May to get a jump on the growing season. Patio tomatoes mature in 65-70 days, so keep that in mind when choosing your planting date. Tomatoes need nighttime temperatures above 55 degrees to set fruit, so you’ll start seeing tomatoes in July.
Patio tomatoes get bushy, so choose a container that is at least a foot in diameter. Plant seeds no more than 1/4 inch deep, and water and fertilize immediately. If you start with seedlings, place them in a hole the size of the soil clump; once they are planted, soak the hole with water and fertilize. Place your patio tomatoes in a location where they will receive ample sunlight.
Container tomatoes need to be watered more frequently than those in the ground. Water every day, and fertilize with liquid fertilizer once during the growing season when fruit begins to form.
Harvest when they are firm to the touch and fully colored. They do best when temperatures are around 75 degrees, so if it gets hotter than that, watch that they don’t soften. You may have to pick tomatoes every day in hot weather to keep them from getting too soft on the vine.
When temperatures start to drop and frost is imminent, do your final harvest. You can pick mature green tomatoes. Bring them inside, wrap them in newspaper and they will ripen over the next month or so.
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All statistics are gathered from the Buffalo Niagara Association of REALTORS®.
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