Are you ready to finally start that tomato project you've been wanting to tackle for years? Take a look at your top options to grow tomatoes in a variety of spaces! Note: In colder climates, tomato growers often prefer to start their plants indoors under careful care and observation. Young tomato plants are typically transplanted to a more permanent home after they are several inches tall. No matter which of these options you choose, it's a good idea to give your tomatoes a start indoors.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine
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1. Raised Beds and Planters
One of the best options for growing large, robust tomato plants, raised beds and planter boxes provide loose, oxygen-rich soil that won’t get waterlogged, along with added protection. Raised beds and planters also make it simple to choose the best sunny location for tomatoes, and then create a raised bed or build a tomato planter box to fit that spot. It’s also easier to control growth, if necessary. Not to mention, raised beds make it easier to care for and harvest tomatoes without kneeling in the dirt.
Though raised beds and planters offer many advantages for growing tomato plants, they’re also the most expensive methods.
2. Straight in the Soil
If you have a patch of rich, well-drained soil that gets plenty of sun, why not use it? With a little bit of soil prep, you can plant seedlings directly in the ground and watch them thrive. Many tomato enthusiasts like to wait for a warm day and warm soil for first planting.
A wire or wood cage for each plant is a good idea, especially for tomato varieties that produce large, heavy fruit. For some smaller varieties, a trellis is a great option. The trellis will keep the tomato plants growing upward and support any branches that become heavy when fruits start to form. All types of supports help to encourage good branch distribution.
3. In Grow Bags
Grow bags can be either sacks that are mostly used outside or hydroponic setups that are versatile enough to be used indoors or outdoors. Hydroponic bags tend to favor smaller tomato plants. Outdoor sacks, however, are very cheap and great for even large plants—especially considering that you can drag them around the yard (not on your grass, however) for better placement or while deciding where to put your tomato plants permanently.
4. Inside Baskets
Consider this the hanging option if you would rather your tomato plants be suspended in air on your deck or balcony. Given a properly fertilized and large basket, tomato plants have no problem with this arrangement! There are even some ambitious growers who encourage tomato plants to grow upside down out of hanging pots (for easier harvesting). However, baskets can dry out easily, which means they need frequent attention for the best results. They also need a lot of support, especially for larger plants: Cherry tomatoes or other smaller varieties may be best here.
5. In a Window Box
Yes, you can grow tomatoes in a window box, and it’s a popular option in more urban environments. Since window boxes tend to get a lot of sun and are easy to water, tomato plants generally have no problem growing in them. However, there are some problems to note if you try this as a tomato planter box. Window boxes are generally only large enough to grow small varieties of tomato plants, and even then they could possibly block your view and run the risk of getting damaged when your open the window. Tomato plants in window boxes may also attract bugs to your windows and siding. With those drawbacks, it is still an option if you don’t have any others; this tomato planter box just requires careful monitoring.