The Q&A Archives: tomatoes in containers

Question: I want to grow large, beefsteak tomatoes in a container on my deck. 1 or 2 plants will probably be enough. How big does the container need to be? Must I build it myself and how? Soil, drainage and support for the plants? Any particular variety (needs to be large and have a sturdy shell that will hold up to being filled with soup and baked. Thanks for answering.

Answer: Tomatoes can be grown in containers but rather than using garden soil, select a quality soilless potting medium to allow for optimum root growth, soil moisture retention and nutrient availability. Containers should be a minimum of 5 gallons per plant although larger is better. You can use regular 5-gallon buckets that you purchase at hardware stores as long as you drill lots of drainage holes in the bottoms and lower sides of the container. I set mine up on bricks so the excess water can drain through the holels. Be ready to be more diligent with watering and fertilizing as a container grown plant has a very restricted root system. Brandywine is a large tomato with rigid walls so it might be good for your purpose. Mortgage Lifter is another heirloom type that you might like. Best wishes with your tomatoes!

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