Tomato plants and tomato cages late May

Growing Tomatoes, Part 2

Once frost is out of the question and night temperatures don’t fall much below 10C (50F), it’s safe to put the young tomato plants into their permanent spots. In my case, that’s the biggest plastic pots I can get my hands on–the kind nurseries use for young trees and larger shrubs. This year I have nine pots.

Tomato plants in big pots mid May
Three of the nine

A week or two before transplant day, I prepare a soil mix that consists of the contents of last year’s tomato pots and a generous helping of fresh compost plus bagged manure. I also add lime, because tomatoes prefer a soil with a pH close to neutral, and mine is somewhat acid. Too acid a soil leads to a calcium deficiency which produces blossom end rot.

Tomato plant in big pot mid May

My plants are of the indeterminate type, which means they keep growing indefinitely, unlike the determinate or bush types. The plants were already starting to grow tiny new shoots in the leaf axils when I planted them. I remove those. Left alone, they would turn into additional stems. It makes no sense to let potted tomatoes grow extra stems, but three stems per plant may be manageable in plants grown in the ground.

Tomato plants in big pots mid May

In any case, the plants will need to be supported as they grow, which means cages or stakes. Cages are preferable for my pot-grown tomatoes, since the pots sit on the asphalt driveway. Plants in the ground may be staked–3 or 4 stout stakes per plant with twine wrapped around them. In my experience, mature plants that have set fruit always get unwieldy and need extra supports for their last month or so.

Tomato plants and tomato cages late May

But that’s in the future for these plants. For the next few weeks, all I have to do is supply water, remove those unwanted leaf axil shoots, and wait for the plants to produce flowers.

Tomato plants and tomato cages late May
Tomato plants and tomato cages late May

29 comments

  1. That was so interesting, thanks. I tried growing tomatoes in pots over our spring/ summer but had no luck. Not enough sun I thought. Now I realise I have to do more about the soil too. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tomatoes need sun, lots of water, and a fertile soil. That’s why I grown mine in pots; the soil at my place is sandy, thin, and full of tree roots. If you try it again, add lots of organic matter, and maybe select a variety intended to be grown in pots. Homegrown tomatoes are worth the effort. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Audrey. I used to grow Roma tomatoes when I had a good vegie place in another place I lived. They were great. I’ll try harder to master the container vegie gardening idea. So far I haven’t had a lot of luck.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. They look very healthy indeed, Audrey. A very professional set-up too. You should get a good crop from those. Ours caught a frost and have since been battered by storms, so they’re looking rather poorly. Hopefully they’ll recover with a bit of sun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sun and warmth should do the trick, and hopefully you will see good results. I remember one or two Junes when I had to put clear garbage bags over the cages to protect the poor tomato plants from cold winds. Not lately, though, thanks to the warming climate.

      Like

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