Is there anything better than slicing into a homegrown tomato? That bright red color, that firm but juicy flesh, that indescribable sweet fragrance — if you’re short on garden space or just want tomatoes nearer to the kitchen, we hope you’ll try growing them in a GreenStalk Vertical Planter!
Tomatoes get a bad rap for being difficult to grow, but the GreenStalk Original Vertical Planter makes it easy! This warm-weather crop falls into two categories: indeterminate, which grows on a vine that will keep growing until the first fall frost, and determinate, which has a determined size that it will grow to and stop. Either is possible in a GreenStalk Vertical Planter! If you want big, beautiful tomatoes and don’t mind a more wild appearance, you can go with indeterminate varieties. Try “sun sugar” or “Cherokee purple,” known for growing well in containers. But if you prefer a smaller, tidier plant that still produces delicious fruits, choose determinate container varieties. Try “bush early girl,” “tiny Tim,” or “red robin.” Days to maturity vary greatly between varieties, so check the seed packet or label. Whatever variety you choose, plant no more than one per pocket.
If you direct seed, use quality potting soil and be sure it is warmed to at least 70°F (21°C). Keep misting the pockets until seeds have germinated and true leaves have developed, then water from the top reservoir. Tomato seedlings do not like cold spells and will not tolerate frost, so plan your planting time accordingly. You could use the Frost Protection Cover or even wheel your GreenStalk indoors using the GreenStalk Mover base.
Plants started indoors should be hardened off before planting. (Store-bought starts are typically already hardened off.) When planting out your starts, you can bury your tomato plants down in the soil right up to the first set of leaves. Roots will grow all along the stem, strengthening the plant. We recommend mixing some Espoma Tomato-tone or fertilizer of your choice at planting time. Then water in those plant babies to ensure a smooth transition.
Give your tomato plants a good six to eight hours of sunshine.
If you have indeterminate tomato plants you will want to use a GreenStalk Plant Support… or three! They’re incredibly sturdy and perfectly fit your vertical garden. It’s a good idea to prune out “suckers” or shoots that grow at a 45° angle between the stem and the leaf branches. These will become new stems that will produce more fruit but may take over! Determinate tomatoes are more compact, but even some of these may benefit from a GreenStalk Plant Support as they mature.
We always recommend planting large plants in the lower tiers to give room for upward growth. If you’re growing several tomato plants, you could plant root vegetables in alternating pockets, allowing for more tomato root growth in the center.
Tomatoes need a consistent supply of water. They’re very thirsty! Check the pocket with the most fruit production first to determine if it’s time to water. Inconsistent watering practices could result in blossom end rot or cracking. If you used a good fertilizer at planting time, give them another feed just as flowers are beginning to develop.
A variety of pests may try to feast on your tomato plants. Catch them early before they become a problem. Larger pests like hornworms can be hand-picked off and dropped into a cup or bucket of soapy water. Tinier pests such as aphids, whiteflies, or spider mites can be dislodged with a strong, direct stream of water. Insecticidal soap or neem oil can be helpful. If you choose insecticides, bear in mind that they will also harm beneficial insects.
Many tomato plants will succumb to blight due to high heat and humidity, especially in the south. Watch for early signs of powdery mildew as well. Just remember, prevention is key. Start with disease-resistant varieties and pay close attention to your plants. Check soil moisture regularly, inspect under and around plants for pests, and prune back any diseased leaves. Your labor will be rewarded with beautiful, ripe fruits.
A ripe tomato will be firm and bright in its true color. You could wait until you see them ripe on the vine to harvest. However, as soon as a mature-sized tomato begins to “blush” or turn a little pink, it is safe to harvest and let it ripen indoors. Never store or ripen tomatoes on a sunny window sill; it will encourage rot. You can refrigerate them, but they may lose some of their flavor. For the best flavor and freshness, keep tomatoes in a cool dry place and enjoy them within a week. But who can wait that long?
We hope we’ve encouraged you to grow your own tomatoes and have some fun with different varieties. For more information about growing in your specific climate, check out your local extension office. We’re here to help you grow — just email us at email@example.com.
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