Regardless of your location, if you have a balcony, patio or just a windowsill that gets even moderate sunlight, you will be able to grow cherry tomatoes in pots.
Some varieties of cherry tomatoes have been developed especially for container growing, and although the plants are very small compared to a garden tomato, they give surprisingly large yields. With just a few tomato plants, you can have enough fresh cherry tomatoes all summer, and perhaps even enough of them to preserve for winter.
Here is how to choose, plant, and care for your container cherry tomatoes:
Choosing a Variety
Most varieties of cherry tomatoes are indeterminate, which means that they produce fruit all summer, as long as you continue to harvest them. This is perfect for a balcony kitchen garden because it means that you will need very few plants to have fresh tomatoes all summer long.
When it comes to choosing a variety of cherry tomatoes, bush varieties are best for pots, because of their compactness. They also look nicer than vine varieties, and you can fit more plants in a small space. Some varieties to choose from are Tumbling Tom, Lizzano, Red Robin, and Baby Boomer.
About 2 tomato plants per person should be sufficient if you want to just eat them fresh. If you are thinking of canning, you might want to double that number.
Start your seeds in early spring under lights, and then transplant them into containers. When growing vegetables in pots, the size of the pot is crucial because the plants need enough nutrients and room to grow.
A 15-inch to 20-inch container per plant is good for growing cherry tomatoes. The ideal pot size is 18-inch, and the minimum amount of soil a tomato plant needs to get enough nutrients is 5 gallons. Hanging pots are great for tomatoes since they look beautiful and they keep them away from pests on the ground.
When planting cherry tomatoes in a small space, make sure the plants are not too close to each other since they could easily transmit diseases, or just shade one another.
Nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus are crucial to getting a good crop of tomatoes. Nitrogen ensures good growth, while phosphorus and potassium will improve the quality of the tomato crop.
When planting tomatoes, make sure you use a good quality compost rich in these nutrients. When the plants start to produce fruit, add some extra compost at the roots. Fertilizer is not necessary for tomatoes unless the soil you use is poor in nutrients.
If you would like to add some natural fertilizers, crushed eggshells and coffee grounds are good for tomato plants.
As soon as you have a crop of ripened cherry tomatoes, you can choose how you want to use them. They are obviously best eaten fresh, just as they come off the plant, or in a salad.
The average cherry tomato produces at least 10 pounds of tomatoes per year, so with a few plants you could easily have enough produce left to preserve.
You can get dried tomatoes by putting them whole in a dehydrator. You can make your own tomato sauce, which is easy with cherry tomatoes since you don’t need to cut them. Tomatoes can also be pickled or frozen, with good results.
Growing cherry tomatoes in pots is an easy, rewarding task, and can be done by anyone who has a balcony, patio or just a small windowsill that gets a few hours of sun a day.
The best way to grow cherry tomatoes is to start the seeds in early spring, indoors, then transplant them into large enough pots filled with rich compost. Over the next months, your plants will grow fast and produce a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes, which will be more delicious than any tomatoes you’ve ever bought in a store.