For those trying to garden in small spaces, it can be tricky to find the right vegetables to grow. Many plants don’t do as well in containers as they would in the ground, so it can be frustrating to try to grow a full vegetable garden with limited space.
Tomatoes are one of the most popular summer vegetables (or technically, fruits). Fortunately, with a little extra planning and thought, growing tomatoes on a balcony can be done. There are several factors to consider when growing tomatoes on a balcony or in a small space. We’re covering the most important ones today – keep reading to learn more!
Select the Right Container
One of the most important factors is, as you might expect, selecting the right container for your tomato plant. There are several pieces to consider when selecting the container.
The biggest factor is that it is the right size.
We recommend using a 5-7 gallon container at a minimum. Really, you can’t have a pot that is too large though so sizing up here is also fine. You want your plants roots to have room to expand without getting too root bound or constrained by the container.
Type of Container
The next consideration is the type of container you want to use. A lesser known method of growing plants in containers is to use a grow bag. Grow bags are flexible, fabric bags that you can grow plants in.
There are pro’s and con’s to using grow bags, but tomatoes specifically can benefit from the additional aeration and drainage that a grow bag provides. Our top pick is the ipow grow bags from Amazon, but there are a number of options to consider when selecting a grow bag.
Of course, you can also use a traditional pot for planting tomatoes. When choosing this method you’ll want to be sure that it meets the size requirement and provides adequate drainage for the plant.
Tomato plants require frequent waterings and ample drainage. This is especially important when planting in a container. During the hot summer months the pot will heat up and cause the roots to need additional water compared to a traditional in ground garden.
Additionally, you’ll want to ensure that the pot has drainage holes (or an alternative method of drainage) to prevent root rot in your tomato plant.
Consider the Amount of Light
Tomatoes thrive best in a full light environment. Sometimes, however, when growing tomatoes on a balcony its difficult to get full light for your plant.
You can supplement natural sunlight with a grow light in a pinch. However, tomatoes are pretty light sensitive so unless you’re planning on investing in a high powered grow light we recommend choosing a space with the most natural light possible.
Choosing the Right Soil
Hands down, soil is one of the most important considerations when planting any plant. Soil is what provides the nutrients needed (aside from added fertilizer), it helps create proper drainage, and so much more. A high quality soil will help boost your plant’s growth tremendously.
For container garden tomatoes specifically, we recommend fox farm potting soil. This has the right balance of nutrients for tomatoes, and specifically those not in a traditional in ground garden. For a full comparison on soils for container garden tomatoes, check out this article.
Consider the Type of Tomato
Different varieties of tomatoes have different levels of difficulty when it comes to growing. While you can grow most types in a pot (or grow bag), some are definitely easier than others.
If you’re a beginner, or have limited light in your space, we recommend starting with a smaller variety such as cherry or grape tomatoes. These plants seem to be able to produce fruit more easily than larger varieties like big boy or beefsteak, especially in lower light conditions.
Should You Start from Seeds?
While some feel like its cheating to buy partially grown plants, we disagree with this philosophy entirely.
Starting from seeds can be fun and interesting for those that like a challenge, but for beginners or those trying to grow in less than ideal conditions, we recommend starting with a small tomato plant rather than trying to sprout from seeds.
Plants are most vulnerable in the seedling stage, and are more susceptible to over or under watering, less than ideal weather conditions, or issues stemming from lack of natural light. If you’re trying to grow tomatoes without full natural light, we recommend purchasing a plant from your local store and planting it in a pot or grow bag.
Have you tried growing tomatoes on a balcony? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!