If you have been feeling nostalgic about Aunt Macy’s home garden that you used to visit often as a child, you are clearly built to have one of your own. The only trick is to keep reminding yourself that growing your own produce is not as difficult as it sounds and patience and perseverance can take you a long way. When you think of home gardens, what comes to your mind? Fresh green mint and parsley, plump and juicy tomatoes, red and green chillies and bite-sized cherry tomatoes; sights that can fill your hearts and tummies with joys and flavours galore. Assuming that you are a beginner, growing cherry tomatoes in containers would be ideally the easiest thing to do and will hardly involve much work if you can plan things well in advance.
Growing Cherry Tomatoes in Containers – Things You Will Need:
- 1 organic cherry tomato plant or seeds (growing from seeds could be more time consuming).
- 1 large tomato cage
- 1 bag of organic tomato food
- 1 bag of organic potting mix
- 1 plastic food bucket (around 15 gallons)
Choosing the Container:
It is wiser to use a plastic bucket than invest in a fancy pot because it is cheaper and also sturdier. If you are still fond of making your first planting session more fanciful, you could take a look at the different planters and pots that are available at your local nursery. A pot that hold 5 gallon is a good choice to begin with.
The Tomato Cage:
You might have seen these in home gardens earlier but for a better understanding, tomato cages are wire meshes that you place around the vines to give them support since these plants are climbers. Cherry tomato plants can grow up to ten feet or more so your choice of cage needs to be based on how tall your potted variety is expected to grow. Among the number of options available, choose the one that is not all plastic since these varieties contain vinyl and your young plants will be unnecessarily subjected to lead and other toxins.
How to Grow Cherry Tomatoes Following a Stepwise Method:
Planting cherry tomatoes
- To keep the soil in the pot just about moist and not soggy, you will need to drill ½ inch holes around the bottom edge keeping a distance of a few inches between each drilled hole. A few more holes need to be drilled in the center too for uniform drainage.
- There must be at least one corner of your house that gets adequate sunlight; around 7-8 hours of direct exposure. For the best quality of produce, this corner would be the most suitable.
- If you happen to have the same corner in the balcony, you can choose to support the vines on the railings instead of investing in tomato cages.
- For using the cage efficiently, you will need to stick the pointy end of the wire mesh into the planter and fill it up with potting mix.
- The potting mix needs to be mixed evenly. Watering it at regular intervals will help in rendering an evenly moist and mixed soil. The potting mix needs to cover almost the entire pot, leaving a space of half an inch at the rim.
- The soil surface should be levelled using your own hands or a spatula meant especially for potting.
- The tomato plant that you buy from the nursery will have its own pot so while transferring from that to your pot; you will need to dig a hole in the center of your potting mix. After planting it back deeply in your pot, ensure that only four to six leaves of the plant are visible from the top.
- Unless it is very dry and hot outside, watering every two to three days would be enough to keep the soil in optimal condition. Otherwise, you might need to water every day. To keep pests and insects away, you will need to use organic fertilizer once a week.
- As the cherry tomato plants start growing, the branches will begin to spread out from in between the cage. What you can do at this stage is to push them back inside the cage so that the plant doesn’t droop.
Common mistakes that you should avoid when growing cherry tomatoes
Growing cherry tomatoes is probably the easiest thing to do but you might have an occasional disaster if the winter frost decides to stay back longer or if the summers are essentially damp and unfavourable. However, you can almost always expect an abundant produce even from a single plant, enough to fill your salad cravings. Listed below are a few tips to enjoy a good produce:
- A small container will invariably lead to the soil getting too soggy frequently because that means lesser soil. So it’s wiser to plant cherry tomatoes in a bigger pot at the very beginning.
- You would neither want too much water nor too little water. Watering the plants every couple of days is sufficient if the weather is favourable and if it gets hotter, you could water regularly.
- Drainage is all important when it comes to cherry tomatoes so remember to have large holes at the bottom of the pot.
- Overcrowding does not work with tomato plants so try and plant one per pot.
- Direct sun exposure for a minimum of seven hours will give you a great harvest and compromising here will definitely ruin it all.
- Do not starve your tomato plants because they are heavy feeders and need fertilizers once every week.
The Final Harvest:
In about a month of potting the plant, you can expect blossoms. In just about a few weeks, you will welcome plump little cherry tomatoes into the world. The ones that easily come off the stem are ready to be plucked and if they offer even the slightest resistance, you could wait for a day or two. Individual plucking will give you a better yield. Once harvested, they can be readily tossed into your healthy salad and enjoyed fresh!