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Tomatoes in Pots vs. in the Ground

If you like growing tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum) or are considering giving it a go, you can harvest luscious vegetables from crops grown from the ground or stored in containers. Both approaches to tomato growing function well and require only some basic care and attention, however there are a couple of differences to consider prior to beginning. Whether in the ground or in pots, tomatoes are grown as annuals in all parts of the U.S.


Tomatoes grow in almost any well-drained garden soil, but you can enhance its organic material before planting by adding compost, mixing several inches into the ground using a garden fork. Also include some fertilizer, but pick a low-nitrogen formula like 8-32-16 to avoid an excessive amount of green growth at the expense of flowers. Add 1 pound per 100 square feet of planting area, mixing it into the top 6 inches of soil. For potted tomatoes, use a commercial potting soil, however enhance it several months before use by adding 1 cup of dolomitic limestone per 40-quart bag, together with 1/2 cup of a commercial mix that provides iron and trace minerals. When you are ready to plant, add 4 cups of soy meal, two cups of blood meal, 3 cups of bone meal, 2 cups of kelp meal and 4 cups of greensand to each bag. These additions give slow-release nutrients throughout the season.


Set tomato plants into the ground once soil and night-time atmosphere temperature stay above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. You can start potted plants earlier in case you’ve got a warm, sunny indoor spot; keep them there until outdoor air temperature stays above 60 degrees F. A tomato plant gets extra powerful by creating roots along any part of its stem that’s underground, so put seedling plants into the ground or into a pot a couple of inches deeper than they were in their own nursery pot. When planting in the ground, then add 1 cup of a fertilizer solution to each hole; create this by diluting 2 tbsp of a high-phosphorus, 15-30-15 water-soluble formula per gallon of water. For potted tomatoes, don’t include additional fertilizer at planting; pick a pot with one or more drainage holes and also don’t use a saucer outside, because it collects water and also can keep roots.

Sun and Water

Tomatoes require at least 8 hours of sunlight daily and create best when they get full sun for the majority of the evening, so pick a sunny garden area for best results. If you are growing potted tomatoes, then keep them in a warm, sunny spot like on a south-facing terrace or deck. Rumors require routine and consistent amounts of water, so give extra water during dry spells, aiming to get 1 or 2 inches per week, including flooding. Soak the soil well each time you water, because light, frequent watering can lead to a poor root system. Even though you can use any type of container for tomatoes, porous pots like unglazed terra cotta ones who lose water easily can dry out fast, so track their soil water and closely plants whenever the top 2 or 3 inches feel dry to the touch.

Other Differences

Tomato plants in the ground require periodic side-dressing with fertilizer to maintain fruits coming. When initial fruits are one-third grown, add 5 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100-foot row, then repeat 2 weeks following initial fruits ripen and 1 month later. Tomatoes in pots don’t require fertilizing if you’ve added slow-release nutrients to your land, but you can supplement these by watering plants with compost tea every couple weeks. Make this by mixing 1 pound of compost per gallon of water, then age it for five days using everyday stirring, strain it through cheesecloth and apply in place of water to get a normal watering. An almost endless choice of cultivars with different types and colours of fruits grow well in the ground. But for pot-grown plants, it’s ideal to use additional modest-sized, determinate kinds that stop getting taller in mid-season, or pick dwarf or miniature cultivars to keep crops into a manageable size.

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