Ask a Question forum→Container size for tomato plants

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Name: Steve
Connecticut (Zone 6a)
Stelcom66
Aug 9, 2020 11:17 AM CST
Due to most of my garden tomatoes being consumed by some animal(s) even though I have a fence, next year I may try growing a couple plants on my deck. I'll still need to make some kind of fence, but the deck is in a good spot for sunlight.

An alternative to containers would be to build a raised garden structure. I was thinking of leaving the bottom as is so water would drain through the typical deck planks. I've read for tomato plants, the soil should be at let 24" deep. Is that accurate? If yes, maybe it would be easier to use 5 gallon buckets.

Last year I grew some lemon cucumbers in a small rectangular plastic container, and they did surprisingly well. There's already fencing on the posts, so a cucumber plant would hopefully attach there as it grows.

The container on the left is all I used last year for the cucumber. Maybe the one on the right would be big enough for one tomato plant. To summarize my question - has anyone had success growing tomatoes and other plants in containers on a deck, and for tomatoes, were the containers in fact 24" high?

Thumb of 2020-08-09/Stelcom66/94579f

Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Aug 9, 2020 12:01 PM CST
The very minimum for a tomato is 5 gallons but bigger is always better. Tomatoes, and a lot of other vegetables, root deep, if given the chance. Larger containers are easier to keep evenly watered. If the soil gets hot, roots suffer. Fertilizer needs will be higher because the roots are diminished. I have grown tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers in those fake half wine barrels. Peppers need less room, I think there are 20 peppers in the pot. Smiling
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: SoCal
Orange County (Zone 10a)
Lazy Gardener or Melonator
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SoCalGardenNut
Aug 9, 2020 12:12 PM CST
My daughter is able to grow on 5 gallon size.
2022 wishlist: Pastelegance, and Blonde Vision.
Name: Zoë
Albuquerque NM, Elev 5310 ft (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Herbs Salvias Composter Bee Lover Container Gardener
Bookworm Cat Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Image
NMoasis
Aug 9, 2020 12:41 PM CST
This is sort of a yes-no-maybe situation. A typical 5-gal bucket is about 15 inches high, and people use them successfully for tomatoes all the time if YouTube is any guide. Based on the myriad issues we see on this website, I'd say they fail more than succeed. I grew four tomato plants in 5-gal containers this year and they have been a royal pain for all the reasons Daisy mentioned (water, heat, fertilizer), as well as keeping them from falling over. Apparently I contracted amnesia from being socially isolated and forgot that I've tried this before and swore I'd never do it again Hilarious! . I do know that there are certain tomato varieties that are advertised as being small and compact and better suited for containers than others, especially many cherry tomatoes. The vines do well as long as you have adequate support, like your deck rail. Here are a couple of resources with suggestions:

http://www.tomatodirt.com/grow...





For me, gardening is really just an excuse for playing in the dirt. Admittedly, plants are a satisfying by-product.
[Last edited by nmoasis - Aug 9, 2020 1:02 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #2324149 (4)
Name: Steve
Connecticut (Zone 6a)
Stelcom66
Aug 9, 2020 12:56 PM CST
Thanks for the information. Sounds like tomatoes are best planted in ground soil. The only reason I considered the deck is it would be easier to keep predators away. I just got back from a local farm stand after buying tomatoes. I've never had to do that this time of year. Glad I could support a local farm just a bit, but want to have my own next year.

Maybe it'll be cucumbers for the deck. My daughter in law had impressive results on their deck, and it wasn't even a full sun area. Speaking of that - last year I thought the cucumber plants she and my son gave me failed since they were round and yellow. After I sent a photo to them I was reminded they were lemon cucumbers! Very good IMO. I'll research some other plants that may be better suited for the deck.

nmoasis - your 2nd link goes to some Coronavirus banner when I click on it.
Name: Zoë
Albuquerque NM, Elev 5310 ft (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Herbs Salvias Composter Bee Lover Container Gardener
Bookworm Cat Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Image
NMoasis
Aug 9, 2020 1:01 PM CST
Stelcom66 said:
nmoasis - your 2nd link goes to some Coronavirus banner when I click on it.


Rolling on the floor laughing So sorry. I sent that to my sister earlier today! Here's the correct link, and I'll edit that other one out. Thanks for the heads up!

https://www.veggiegardener.com...

For me, gardening is really just an excuse for playing in the dirt. Admittedly, plants are a satisfying by-product.
Name: Steve
Connecticut (Zone 6a)
Stelcom66
Aug 9, 2020 1:31 PM CST
That's quite all right! Wow - if I could get tomatoes like that from a container I may give it a go! I've still got a few potential green ones in the existing garden that I've placed chicken wire over and around. With luck maybe they'll ripen before they get eaten.

It's amazing to me when I'll see a garden with several ripe tomatoes - and no fence! The soil I have may not be the greatest where I planted cherry tomatoes. Surprisingly, those weren't eaten, but when ripe they're very small, and somewhat on the sour side. They almost look like berries of some sort. I've never seen any that small. I don't know if it's just the variety of cherry tomatoes that they are. They were nothing like the nice ones in the link.

Here's a photo of the tab I kept next to the tiny ones, I did get some good yellow cherrys on a different plant. What's kind of strange is the photo on the tab shows red yellow cherry tomatoes? Or maybe the tab belongs to the truely yellow ones, but I wonder why what's designated as 'yellow' on the tab shows red?

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Name: Zoë
Albuquerque NM, Elev 5310 ft (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Herbs Salvias Composter Bee Lover Container Gardener
Bookworm Cat Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Image
NMoasis
Aug 9, 2020 5:44 PM CST
I grew the same ones. They are like the yellows on the right in your photo. The picture on my tag looks sort of orange. Mine did great in the late spring, but suffered in triple-digit temps and then high winds knocked the pot over so many times I lost most of the unripe fruit. Debating now whether to trim and re-pot or just give up, but of everything I'm growing, the yellows are by far the tastiest. Shrug! This climate is hard on everything, though. Your results may vary!
Thumb of 2020-08-09/nmoasis/92b27a

For me, gardening is really just an excuse for playing in the dirt. Admittedly, plants are a satisfying by-product.
Name: Steve
Connecticut (Zone 6a)
Stelcom66
Aug 9, 2020 6:27 PM CST
Yes the ones on your tag definitely look more orange! I'm thinking the tag in my photo had to belong to the yellow tomatoes. Those very small red ones - I don't know what specific variety they are but I've never grown any that small. I agree the yellows taste very good. Just made a hummus wrap for lunch tomorrow with some of the yellows. Sorry to hear about your mishaps. 100 degrees is rare in these parts, but it happened at least once this summer. Even in the 90s like it'll be this week is hard on me! Must be nice having your longer growing season though. In late spring that's usually the earliest we could even plant anything.

IMO the plants/pots are worth saving. I wait all year for what I consider the delicacy!

Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Aug 9, 2020 6:47 PM CST
All in one place:

Orange is Sun Sugar, red is Sun Cherry, oddly brownish is Chocolate Sprinkles.
Thumb of 2020-08-10/DaisyI/ff4599

My 3 favorite tomato varieties. Smiling
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Kat
Magnolia, Tx (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Container Gardener Herbs Moon Gardener Enjoys or suffers hot summers Heirlooms
Vegetable Grower Bookworm
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kittriana
Aug 9, 2020 6:53 PM CST
I am in Houston, we start earlier, but the season ends earlier for us as those 90*F plus days start really early- and last too long to have a decent Fall garden. Cannot trust tags really, tags are occasionally used from other tomatoes when a bunch runs out, chuckl. Why I like seeds more than plant sets. Your poor deck with all that water running out. Ct should not have a problem with too much soil heat unless you have airflo blocked around the tomato, shading the pot from direct sun would fix that. Critters snacking on your fruits (We harvest red fruits before they turn red and ripen indoors to foil the critters) could be chipmunks, kids, squirrels, birds, and you might consider leaving a water source out for them to see if it helps save your tomatoes...just ideas...my fence is meant to deter deer, but it also supports my tomatoes that grow up over and back down the other side, so I don't mind sharing if the deer snack now.
So many roads to take, choices to make, and laughs to share!
Name: Zoë
Albuquerque NM, Elev 5310 ft (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Herbs Salvias Composter Bee Lover Container Gardener
Bookworm Cat Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Image
NMoasis
Aug 9, 2020 6:54 PM CST
Our last freeze date was April 14 this year, similar to your average freeze date, but we'd had a warm spell beforehand. I had (knowingly) jumped the gun with the tomatoes, but protected them when warned about the freeze. The yellow cherries started bearing mid-June..technically late spring. Whistling

The larger ones were looking good just after the solstice, June 22
Thumb of 2020-08-10/nmoasis/8b18e1

...and then we had a hailstorm in 95-degree heat on June 24
Thumb of 2020-08-10/nmoasis/1bed5a

Seriously, you do NOT envy our growing season! Hilarious!

For me, gardening is really just an excuse for playing in the dirt. Admittedly, plants are a satisfying by-product.
Name: Zoë
Albuquerque NM, Elev 5310 ft (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Herbs Salvias Composter Bee Lover Container Gardener
Bookworm Cat Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Image
NMoasis
Aug 9, 2020 6:58 PM CST
DaisyI said:All in one place:

Orange is Sun Sugar, red is Sun Cherry, oddly brownish is Chocolate Sprinkles.
Thumb of 2020-08-10/DaisyI/ff4599

My 3 favorite tomato varieties. Smiling


Looks great, Daisy! I feel like I'm in a perpetual Easter egg hunt since our last series of wind storms...I've been finding cherry tomatoes all over the garden tucked in among the plants. Hilarious!
For me, gardening is really just an excuse for playing in the dirt. Admittedly, plants are a satisfying by-product.
Name: Kat
Magnolia, Tx (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Container Gardener Herbs Moon Gardener Enjoys or suffers hot summers Heirlooms
Vegetable Grower Bookworm
Image
kittriana
Aug 9, 2020 7:01 PM CST
I haven't had any tomato seedling sprout, but my coolapeno pepper I chopped off has leaves at the bottom to try again, chuckl.
So many roads to take, choices to make, and laughs to share!
Name: Zoë
Albuquerque NM, Elev 5310 ft (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Herbs Salvias Composter Bee Lover Container Gardener
Bookworm Cat Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Image
NMoasis
Aug 9, 2020 7:05 PM CST
kittriana said:I haven't had any tomato seedling sprout, but my coolapeno pepper I chopped off has leaves at the bottom to try again, chuckl.


Mine haven't sprouted...I'm finding the tomato fruit all over! As if Daisy flung the contents of her bowl of beautiful cherry tomatoes into the shrubbery.
For me, gardening is really just an excuse for playing in the dirt. Admittedly, plants are a satisfying by-product.
Name: Kat
Magnolia, Tx (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Container Gardener Herbs Moon Gardener Enjoys or suffers hot summers Heirlooms
Vegetable Grower Bookworm
Image
kittriana
Aug 9, 2020 7:13 PM CST
mm I fully understand- since when I took down the Super Sweet 100's cherry tomatoes they went wild. I quit using 5 gal containers on tomatoes because I do grow indeterminate heirloom types, extreme heat and drouth conditions last many years...have to change to cellphone for pic of those cherries I WILL grow again. So many gone bad from weather and bugs- they literally boiled on the vine, but by then I had frozen all I could, eaten and given away bags full. July 12th, when those vines were done
Thumb of 2020-08-10/kittriana/4a1f1f

So many roads to take, choices to make, and laughs to share!
[Last edited by kittriana - Aug 9, 2020 7:21 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #2324424 (16)
Name: Steve
Connecticut (Zone 6a)
Stelcom66
Aug 9, 2020 7:15 PM CST
kittriana said:I am in Houston, we start earlier, but the season ends earlier for us as those 90*F plus days start really early- and last too long to have a decent Fall garden. Cannot trust tags really, tags are occasionally used from other tomatoes when a bunch runs out, chuckl. Why I like seeds more than plant sets. Your poor deck with all that water running out. Ct should not have a problem with too much soil heat unless you have airflo blocked around the tomato, shading the pot from direct sun would fix that. Critters snacking on your fruits (We harvest red fruits before they turn red and ripen indoors to foil the critters) could be chipmunks, kids, squirrels, birds, and you might consider leaving a water source out for them to see if it helps save your tomatoes...just ideas...my fence is meant to deter deer, but it also supports my tomatoes that grow up over and back down the other side, so I don't mind sharing if the deer snack now.


Interesting re: tags - that's the most likely explanation, I bought those I think at Lowes so someone could have stuck in a tag for something else.

I do have a couple containers of water nearby. I was able to enjoy 2 (sort of) full size tomatoes by doing what you suggested - picked them before they were ripe. So many times I thought I'd let one ripen a few more days... you can guess what resulting in waiting. I'd be fine with sharing the yield, I also have had some grow over the fence. I'm (unfortunately) not quite rural enough to routinely see deer.


Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Aug 9, 2020 7:16 PM CST
They have survived a couple 50 mph wind/dust storms. The plants look pretty sad but the tomatoes held on and are ripening nicely. I always plant mid-May but expect a snowstorm or freeze mid-June. This year didn't disappoint.

I put deflated red water walls around the tomato cages. The tomato cages are held down with a big stake. Because of the wind and cold, I really didn't think I was going to ever get the water walls off this year.

Only had to drag out the packing blankets twice though. I think I took a photo. I'll have to go find it.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Steve
Connecticut (Zone 6a)
Stelcom66
Aug 9, 2020 7:21 PM CST
nmoasis said:Our last freeze date was April 14 this year, similar to your average freeze date....
Seriously, you do NOT envy our growing season! Hilarious!


Wow - that is in fact similar to my freeze date! Never would have thought that.

I hear ya re: the growing season. I look forward to wood stove season. Due to a significant storm here last week some neighbors were kind enough to donate some wood from a fallen tree. Thank God I have electricity! Much of the state still doesn't, and it's going to be in the 90s. Don't have air conditioning but gotta have fans going.
Name: Steve
Connecticut (Zone 6a)
Stelcom66
Aug 9, 2020 7:23 PM CST
DaisyI said:All in one place:

Orange is Sun Sugar, red is Sun Cherry, oddly brownish is Chocolate Sprinkles.

My 3 favorite tomato varieties. Smiling


Daisyl that concoction looks wonderful!

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