I'm one of those gardeners who had to downsize in my gardening area to container growing vegetables. I've gone from a 120 by 30 foot area that consisted of raised beds, 4 feet by 20 feet long to a 10 by 30 foot area, and, now, to finally, container gardening. Don't have much growing area in the senior citizens development that I moved to several years ago. Pretty much gave up my vegetable gardening until trying to container grow the tomatoes this year.
My tomatoes are doing fantastic. I have neighbors bring over other people to see my tomato plants. I'm getting more tomatoes than I need, so, I'm giving some tomatoes to my neighbors in the senior citizens development. TwiceI had to move the containers that the tomatoes are growing in for different reasons. The first time was because I had them close to the edge of the building and the deer spotted them and started eating the tomato vines and leaves even before any tomatoes formed on the plants. Other neighbors told me that they had this same problem and gave up attempting to grow tomatoes for that reason. I decided that I was going to outwit the deer and that they weren't going to stop me from growing my tomatoes. Good thing I was container growing the tomatoes..... They're moveable.....
I moved the container growing tomatoes close to my front door, where the deer usually don't come to. They don't seem to come close to the front door of the house. I can look out back and see them in the woods about 20 feet from the house as they pass through the area, which they do quite often. One thing, I made an error on putting them on the side that the door opens up on. The vines grew to about ten feel long and tall. I had to tie the tomato cages to the wrought iron fence for extra support for the tomatoes because the cages just wasn't enough support for the tomatoes. The vines besides growing upwards also spread outwards over the top of the tomato cages. They grew in the direction of my door. It got to the point that I had to move the tomato vines in order to get into and out of the house. When the tomatoes had started growing on the vines, the vines became top heavy and that's why they started blocking the enterance to my doorway for me getting into and out of the house!!!!
Photos Group 1 8/7/2006 photos.
In the photos above, the container growing tomatoes are on the left side of my front door. As you can see, the variety I used, the Early Girl, are heavy producers, have thick vines and have large leaves on them. I sort of boxed the tomato plants in with the picnic table and umbrella along with using smaller containers in front of them to help in keeping the deer away from them, too, just to be on the safe side..... As the tomatoes formed on the vines they became top heavy and just flopped overwards past the top of the tomato cages towards the wrought iron fence and over past it, in the direction of the door. I have two cement steps and a cement entrance way platform a little over two feet tall about six inches below the bottom of the doorway, which puts the top of the wrought iron fence close to the top of the tomato cages. I had moved the container growing tomato plants to this spot when the vines were a lot smaller. They had just reached the top of the tomato cages and were just about as high as the wrought iron fence. You can see in these photos how much taller theeplants grew, taller than the tip of the umbrella that's in the center of the table. They grew close to the building and were almost reaching the top of the windows. I couldn't even open up my jaoulosy windows beacause of the tomato vines growing against them.
Photos Group 2 9/11/2006 photos
With the help of a strong male neighbor, we moved the container growing tomato plants to the other side of my steps and doorway so I could get in and out of the house. The tomatoes are now on the side that that spring and door hinges are on. These photos were taken a few weeks after the move. You can see how the tomato vines are growing over the sides of the tomato cages and downwards. They're even covering the wrought iron fence up. Again, the tomato cages were tied to the wrought iron fence from the top of the tomato cages to the top of the wrought iron fence. Also put the smaller containers on the side of the tomatoes to help keep the four legged critters/deer away from them somewhat. So far, it's working.....
Photos Group 3
In the two photos above, you can see the size of the leaves and how thick the vines became on these container grown tomato plants. The vines are pretty close to being as thick as my fingers. The leaves are over two inches long.
Photos Group 4
The tomatoes in the Photos Group 1 grew to close to a pound each. Slices from the tomatoes were big enough to cover a piece of bread for tomato/mayonaise sandwichs. The pictures of the tomatoes in Photos Group 4 are still growing. Just took these photos about two days ago. The weather cooled down somewhat and this batch of tomatoes might end up even being larges than the previous grown ones. These tomatoes aren't ripening as fast as the other ones did when the heat was up in the 90's here in New Jersey, the Garden State, home of the New Jersey Tomatoes...... Picked some green ones on 9/20/2006 for some of my neighbors for making some fried green tomatoes.
Now that I've done a show-and tell on the size and appearance of the tomatoes, I'm going to tell you how and what I did to get the container grown tomatoes and plants to this size. The yellow tomato buds are still forming and there's still more small tomatoes starting up. I'll probably have plenty of green tomatoes to make fried green tomatoes, pickled tomatoes and some tomato relish out of when I strip the tomatos from the plants when frost arrives.... It's only mid September now and the tomato plants and tomatoes really are healthy looking and a few weeks to a month away to the arrival of Jack Frost.....
1) I used two 33 gallon plastic container pots and a dozen tomato transplants. Six plants per container..... The Square Foot Gardening way.....
2) I only half filled the containers with garden soil.
3) I mixed in some of Scotts All Purpose Flower & Vegetable Slow Release Plant Food, 10-10-10, into the soil.
3) I put in a couple of tomato transplants in the containers, the Early Girl variety that I bought at a local super market when grocery shopping.
4) I sprinkled some of Scotts Flower & Vegetable Slow Release Plant Food around the top of the soil.
5) I waited about two weeks for the tomato plants to grow some and added more soil, covering up about 6 more inches of the plants. Added more of the Scotts Plant Food to the top of the soil.
6) Repeated step number 5. The deeper the tomato roots are in the soil, the better and healthier the tomato plants will be. Learned that years ago from previously growing tomato plants. Plus putting a 50 cent plant in a five dollar hole, one of Ralph Snodsmith's infamous sayings..... Read his Garden Hotline books for that tip.
7) About a month after I had started the tomato transplants up I started using Miracle Gro Plant Food, 18-18-21 and have been feeding the container growing tomato plants same about every 10 to 14 days. Instead of mixing the plant food with water, I srinkle 3 scoops of the plant food around the plants and well water it in. I use the larger section of the green scoop that comes in the pink grandulated plant food.
8) I give my tomatoes a good douseing of water every evening, after dinner time. Once, I did it in the morning and had a bird, a red cardinal, visiting my tomato plants. Not only did the cardinal peck away at my tomatoes, it took a bird bath in the newly watered tomato plants. Tomato plants just love water and I'd have an inch or two of water above the top of the soil when I watered them in their container. The water would go down into the soil within a few minuites, but, was just there just long enough for the caardinal to take a bird bath in it. This cardinal, I believe, is the same cardinal that visits a neighbors bird bath......
9) In the past 25 or so years, I've read and re-read both old books and new books on gardening such books many a time. Plus there's always new related information to learn on vegetable gardening in some of the newer books. Some of my favorites are:
Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. ... That book tells one how many tomato plants one can put in the gardens, with the spacing of same. The same rule would also apply to container gardening vegetables, too. I also watched many of his TV shows on gardening way back when, too, along with the old Victory GardenTV shows, too... Was at the Square Foot Gardening website recently and found out that there's been some recent minor changes from the original methods from when I first learned of same back in the mid 1980's.
Tips from the Garden Hotline by Ralph Snodsmith .....This book gives one plenty of info for gardening growing plants and vegetables. It has a few of Snodsmith's favorite sayings that many of us in this area heard on WOR Radio on Snodsmith's Garden Hotline call in radio show. Plus on the Good Morning America TV Show. I also met Snodsmith in person several times when he appeared at the Strawberry Blossoms Gardening Center in Wayne, NJ back in the 1980's and even have a photo of him before his hair turned white as per the photo of him in the New York Gardeners Guide by Snodsmith. You'll also see a few of his flower and tree photos in the New Jersey Gardeners Guide by Pegi Ballister-Howells and most likely in the Tri-State Gardeners Guide, too. There's a good chance that if you put in the name of your state in front of Gardners Guide, you most likely will come up with one for your state, too. Found this out at the Publishers website. They seem to have a whole series of these books for landscaping, flowers, shrubs and trees for every state in the US. At the Garden Hotline website I found out that Snodsmith still is active with the call in talk radio on WOR on 710 on the AM radio dial on Sunday's from 8 AM to 10 AM in the New York Metropolitan area along waith being on Saturdays from 8 AM to 9 AM on WRCR in Rockland County, New York, US. Snodsmith has had this Garden Hotline radio show on the airwaves now for 35 years.
Good Neighbors: Companion Planting for Gardeners by Anna Carr Where one learns what vegetable plants do well when grown close to and nearby to other herbs, flowers, vegetables, and weeds..... Yes, weeds such as the stinging nettle that I have growing closeby is listed in it, too, and it mentions of it being a good weed and not a bad weed in companion planting.....
10) Some reference books on gardening visitors/bugs were amongst my collection of books, but, I'm afraid left behind when I moved several times and ended up down-sizing when moving into the senior citizens development. If I had one in my possession now, I'd be able to look up this here orange and black bug that came and made a visit to the stinging nettle that I had growing close by. I grabbed my digital camera and snapped off a couple of photos of it..... Will have to get a gardeners bug book on eBay for looking up bugs like this one.
Any garden gru's out there know what the name of this bug is? It's on a weed called the stinging nettle, if thats any help. 7/14/2006 Photo. All of my photos shown here are copyrighted by me. According to Professional Photographers Of America, Inc., based out of California in the US When It's Created It's Copyrighted. I have one of their t-shirst that has that saying on it. That means that all of the photos on eBay are copyrighted by the person who took them, too..... Some might be open to Public Domaine if the photographer allows/says same.....