The Q&A Archives: Guilty Of Tomato Murder

Question: In the past, I have been known to kill a few tomato plants. Yesterday, when I decided to try out my green thumb again, I got a revelation...If I water my tomato plants, maybe they will survive. While I know this revelation was of divine inspiration, I still need a little help. You see, I live in the city and I only have a small deck which gets lots of sunlight. My question is, how big of a pot do I need to produce healthy and delicious patio or cherry tomatoes? Also, any other tips would be much appreciated!

Answer: Cherry tomatoes are the easiest type to grow, so you are off to a good start. Tomatoes do best in a container large enough to avoid water stress, so you will need at least a five gallon bucket, and a half barrel would be preferable because it also holds enough soil to help insulate the roots from extreme heat. You could also consider using some of the water holding polymers in the soil to help it stay moister longer if you are not up to watering daily or even twice a day in late summer. Your goal will be to keep the soil evenly moist but not sopping wet. Another thing to consider is wind; if it is windy on your deck it will dry the plants out faster so you might consider making a wind break of sorts. Finally, tomatoes need a rich soil and plenty of nutrients so be sure to follow a regular fertilization program, possibly in conjunction with applications of compost. Good luck with your tomatoes!

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