Tips for Growing Tomatoes in an Urban Garden
Tomatoes are a staple in every home. So it makes sense to give it a try and grow them at home. But for urban farmers, you need extra research due to limited space.
Homegrown tomatoes taste better and are blemish free. They are also firm but juicy with a sweet but tangy taste. You also get to know where your food is coming from.
But there are a few challenges for urban dwellers. Do you grow in containers or in the garden? Everything comes down to the available space. But we all know urban space is limited.
In this post, I’ll share tips to help you get started in your urban garden. Keep reading below.
Choose a Suitable Tomato Variety
The first step towards successful urban tomato growing is selecting the right variety. You need a variety that will fit your space and suit your needs.
Many tomato varieties are well-suited for growing in urban areas. These are usually compact and produce high yields. Some good options to consider include:
- Cherry tomatoes – These small, round tomatoes are sweet and easy to grow in containers or small spaces. They are also resistant to pests and diseases.
- Dwarf varieties – Several dwarf tomato varieties are specifically bred for container or small-space gardening. These include ‘Patio’, ‘Tumbling Tom Red’, and ‘Tumbling Tom Yellow’.
- Determinate varieties – Determinate tomato plants are smaller and more compact than indeterminate varieties. They make a good choice for urban gardens. They also have a shorter growing season. This is a big plus in areas with a shorter growing season.
- Heirloom varieties – Heirloom tomatoes are often prized for their unique flavors and are a good choice for urban gardening. Some popular heirloom varieties include ‘Brandywine’, ‘Black Krim, and ‘Green Zebra’.
Ultimately, the best tomato variety for your urban garden will depend on your personal preferences and the space and resources available. Do some research and see which variety best works for you.
Include Other Plants
Tomatoes grow well when combined with other plants. This is important for tomatoes grown in containers. You want more plants around to help attract bees and enhance pollination.
Common plants to grow with tomatoes include roses, cabbage, broccoli, beans, Brussels sprouts, leeks, onions, carrots, eggplant, etc.
Make sure you avoid plants like chili peppers that attract tomato whiteflies. Peas, dill, potatoes, and rosemary should also be planted far apart as they can have detrimental effects on tomatoes.
Choose a Sunny Area
Tomatoes require warm growing conditions to produce big fruits. Whether growing in containers, or the garden, you need to select an area with good sunshine. The plants need at least 8 hours of sunshine a day.
The seedlings require strong and direct light to ensure good growth. Tomatoes have a long growing season. So start the germination process early indoors to get a head start. This can be 6-8 weeks before the last spring date of frost.
Later on, you can harden the seedlings and transplant them outside. But you can also grow directly from seeds during spring.
Choose a Big-size Pot
Tomatoes need a lot of space, if you consider growing tomatoes in pots, Backyard Gardeners Network recommends you choose a large pot. A suitable pot should be twenty inches in diameter. But for most dwarf varieties, you can still grow them in smaller containers.
You can sow seeds directly in the pots if the conditions are right. Some gardeners prefer sowing seeds in small paper cups or module trays. Once they germinate and show their true first leaves, they are then transplanted into large pots.
Before planting your seedlings in the pots, make sure the soil is nutrient-rich and loose.
Tomatoes require support whether grown in the garden or pots. There are several ways to provide support to tomato plants:
- Staking: This involves using a single stake or a series of stakes to support the plant as it grows. Simply drive the stake into the ground next to the plant and tie the plant to the stake using twine or a plant tie.
- Caging: Caging involves using a wire or plastic cage to support the plant. The cage should be placed around the plant when it is young and then tied to the cage as the plant grows.
- Trellising: Trellising involves using a series of horizontal wires or ropes to support the plant. To trellis tomatoes, you will need to install a sturdy trellis system and then train the plant to grow up the trellis as it grows.
- Hanging basket: If you have limited space, you can grow tomatoes in a hanging basket. Just make sure to use a basket with a sturdy wire frame and use a potting mix specifically formulated for container gardening.
It is important to provide support for your tomato plants to prevent them from falling over and to help them grow upright.