The problem many people face when wanting to grow their own tomatoes is lack of garden space. A simple solution to this is to use a container for growing hanging tomato plants. As long as you take the time to correctly set up your seedlings in the right container you will find several advantages over traditional tomato gardening.
Choosing the best variety of tomato to grow should be your first step. There are over 700 different types to choose from but let’s look at three of the easiest and most popular ones to grow.
1 – Cherry. This is quite a small variety of tomato and relatively easy to grow. Being smaller than some of their cousins that are grown outdoors they don’t take up too much space and are therefore a good choice for growing in a hanging container. They vary in size from about your thumbnail right up to a golf ball size.
2 – Roma. If you like to make your own tomato pastes and sauces, the Roma is rated as one of the most ideally suited to this. It’s easily recognisable by its elongated oval shape and is preferred for making sauces due to it having a more dense flesh and less seeds than many other tomato varieties. You need to bear in mind that the Roma is also a determinate plant. This means that the fruits basically ripen all at once instead of spreading out over the season.
3 – Grape. Another great tomato that it well suited to growing in a hanging planter is the Grape Tomato. This little beauty has a much more meaty flavour than the cherry but tends to produce a smaller crop. So if you have a family that likes their grape tomato you may want to look at hanging some extra planters up for growing more.
Correct choice and preparation of your container before hanging it up is extremely important. You can use virtually any type of container for this, but something like an old 5 gallon bucket or old plastic paint container is probably a good place to start. This is what I used in the beginning and just painted the outside of them to make them a little more presentable. If finance allows, you can purchase some proper containers from your local garden centre.
Getting your container ready. You need to cut a two inch hole in the bottom of the container to feed your seedlings leaves through. Place your container right side up and put some of your potting soil mixture in around the edge of the hole. Gently pull the main stem and leaves of your seedling through the hole from the bottom so that about half of the plant is showing.
I find a good way to do this is to get two chairs and place the planter on top of them leaving easy access to the bottom of it.
Next you should gently pack the soil around the stem and once it is nicely in place, pour more soil over the root ball so that it covers it by about five inches. Water the soil slowly until it starts to drip a little through the hole and then top up the container with the rest of your potting soil leaving about two inches to spare at the top. Water this thoroughly and hang your container up in a location that gives your tomatoes at least eight hours of sun per day. If this is not possible you will need to move them around throughout the day for them gain an even amount of exposure.
You need to regularly check that the soil is moist and you should also fertilize when needed. One of the advantages over traditional tomato growing in the ground you have with growing hanging tomato plants is that they are portable. Any problems that you may face outdoors such as sudden high winds or rain storms that could potentially harm your plants will be no trouble. If you are hanging your containers on a porch you can simply take them indoors. Garden pests such as hornworm have virtually no chance of getting to your tomatoes as they are away from the ground. And if any plants show signs of disease you can easily move the infected ones away from the healthy plants.
Growing hanging tomato plants is an easy alternative to the traditional tomato garden and the fact that they are grown upside down means that staking is unnecessary. Be sure not to hang them too high as you will need access to water them. Stick with the three varieties I have suggested if you are just starting out and you can look forward to your own trouble free, fresh and succulent tasting tomatoes very soon.
Stephen Martinson has been a tomato growing enthusiast for more than 10 years. His aim is to help everyone grow their own beautiful delicious tomatoes the easy way. For more great in depth information on tomato gardening including growing hanging tomato plants, visit http://www.easytomatogrowingtips.com.