A Potted Tomato Plant
Tomatoes are a popular vegetable to grow in home gardens but they are frost sensitive so by growing them in a pot, you can bring them inside your house or shed during the night once frosts hit and extend your harvest season. Growing tomatoes in pots is also a great idea for those with small gardens and those with not a lot of sunlight as you can move them around your garden as the sun moves. By following these easy steps, you'll be well on your way to harvesting your own fresh tomatoes.
- Firstly, find yourself a pot. This can be plastic, terracota or anything else you may fancy. You can use one that you have already or you can buy one from your local nursery, garden centre or DIY shop. The bigger the pot the better but try to find something that's at least 20 cm in diameter. The one I've used here has a diameter of 25 cm. If you're using a second hand pot, make sure you wash it well with soapy water so you don't spread any diseases to your new plant.
- Next you need a plant. This may be a seedling you've purchased or one you've grown from seed yourself. Here I'm using one that I grew from seed. It's roots are just starting to reach the edges of the pot so now's a great time to transplant it. If you buy a seedling it will probably be a bit bigger that this one.
- It's always great if you can plant more than one thing in a pot as it adds interest, prevents any waste of space in the pot and if it's edible, it increases the amount of food you can harvest. So I'm also going to put some chive and garlic chive seeds in this pot. You can choose whatever you like by I have chosen chives because they can help prevent diseases, deter pests and taste really good when eaten with tomatoes. So you will also need some seeds.
- You will also need some potting mix. It's always better to get a good quality one but if you're on a budget you can use any potting mix you can buy and add some fertiliser such as blood and bone. Don't use soil as it shrinks and compacts which can damage the plant roots.
- Find a stick or stake that can provide some support for your growing tomato plant.
- Fill your pot with potting mix, leaving a few cm gap at the top. If there's a rim on your pot like there is in my pot, fill it up to that point.
- Make a hole in the middle of the pot the size of the soil part of your plant (have a look at the picture).
- Remove your plant from it's current pot. You may need to soak it in a bucket of water first to loosen it. Never pull the plant out by its stem as this can damage the plant.
- Put the plant in the hole with your stick or stake and backfill any gaps with the potting mix from the hole. Make sure the potting mix level is the same height as the soil level of the plant.
- Make four smaller holes equally spaced around the plant for your seeds. For chives, they should be 12 mm deep. Plant at least 3 seeds per hole and cover the seeds.
- Water everything in well - until you see water running out of the pot's drainage holes.
- Now put it in a sunny spot.
- That's it! Easy wasn't it.
- To care for your new plant, water it regularly. Plants in pots dry out more quickly than those in the ground. If your potting mix contains pine bark, don't let it dry out or it may become water repellent.
- As the plant grows, tie some of the larger branches to your support stick or stake with something soft like a cut-up old stocking (this prevents the tie from cutting into and damaging the branches). This lifts the fruit off the potting mix and helps the plant produce more fruit. It's ok though if some of the branches trail down over the edges of the pot.
- If it looks like you'll get any late frosts, bring it inside at night (put some plastic or a saucer underneath it so that you don't get water everywhere). Do the same at the end of the season and you'll have tomatoes for longer. Chives are perennial (they will die back in areas with cool or cold winters and re-sprout in spring) so you can keep the pot inside over winter for fresh chives even after your tomato plant has died. You can also replace your tomato plant after it has died, with a new plant - perhaps some lettuce.