Container Tomatoes

Micro Tom

The amount of variety in today’s tomatoes can be astounding. Not only do they come in several colors but can be various shapes and sizes as well. Not just the tomato fruit can be different sizes but the plants themselves range from a small six inches to huge vines over 20 feet. We are lucky to have such a selection to choose from today. It is especially helpful to those of us who have very little space for planting. With such a great variety people with small patios or even in apartments can know the joy and satisfaction of producing their own tomatoes.

I decided to try several varieties of tomatoes which I was told grew well in containers and some that were not recommended for containers so I could experiment and see what results I might get. I grew these varieties in containers: Micro Tom, Tumbler Tom Yellow, Tumbler Tom Red, Canary Yellow, Red Robin, Totem, Silvery Fir Tree, Glory of Moldova, Reisenstraube, Hawaiian Pineapple, Sungold and Yellow Pear.

The Micro Toms were the first to produce tomatoes. Micro Toms are a hybrid and can be grown in a six-inch pot. I had eight Micro Toms in pots. The plants were very small and each produced approximately eight tiny half-inch tomatoes. I was very pleased with them at first unfortunately after these first fruits ripened the plants just died off. And in order to have a salad with these tiny tomatoes you would need at least eight plants just to have enough tomatoes ripe at one time. So these though they produced might not be the best choice except as a novelty.

Canary Yellow and Red Robin are almost identical in growth the only difference being the color of the fruit and the fact that Canary Yellow is a hybrid while Red Robin an heirloom. They produce one-inch tomatoes on plants that grew about ten inches tall. Mine were planted in one-gallon pots except for four Red Robins which were planted in a self-watering container made out of a plastic cake pan. Each plant produced 5-8 one-inch tomatoes before the heat set in and they stopped producing, however they have not died off and as temperatures drop I expect they will produce more. I found the flavor of both to be very good but like the Canary Yellow slightly better.

Totem is another hybrid. These plants are a bit larger getting up to about 2 ˝-3 feet for me. Unfortunately mine did not do well at all. The stems grew straight up and produced just a few two-inch tomatoes on top, which I have not even gotten to taste yet because they are taking an incredibly long time to ripen. I have three of them in a 20-inch pot. It is possible these were just started a little late or just are not in the right spot in my yard but I will probably not grow these again.

Silvery Fir Tree was planted late in hanging baskets and needed to be sown much earlier as they are just now starting to grow well. I have seen other people who have grown these and gotten a few fruit off them while growing them in hanging baskets so if these do not produce by frost they will be brought into the greenhouse to finish growing.

I have one Glory of Moldova that is in a pot that is only about ten inches. It was my intention to get it transplanted but I just ran out of pots and time. However it has grown to nearly 5 ft and produced four tomatoes for me. I love its lemon yellow coloring and the flavor is quite good.

Reisenstraube is in a one-gallon pot, has grown quite large but has not produced.

Hawaiian Pineapple was planted in the middle of the winter into a five-gallon bucket because I didn’t know what else to do with this mistakenly late planted tomato.  After it got so large in the greenhouse, I put a cage around the growing plant and just let it grow through the winter. This spring I brought it outside. It grew very well in the bucket to over five foot tall was lush and a beautiful but only produced two orange tomatoes.

Yellow Pear and Sungold are planted in large pots, which were set on either side of the grape arbor and allowed to grow up the front post of the arbor thereby supporting their vines. Both have done fairly well and are still producing though I am sure they are not producing anywhere nearly as well as they would in the ground. Most people consider Yellow Pear tomatoes to be very bland but I found them to be quite good, whereas most people consider Sungold the best cherry tomato to eat and I did not find their taste impressive at all.

By far the best container tomatoes I have this year are the Tumbler tomatoes. These hybrids are made specifically for container growing and they do wonderfully. I have two of each hanging from my porch in hanging baskets. They have produced and kept on producing even in out worst heat. These one to 1 ˝ inch tomatoes look wonderful when you mix the red and yellow ones in a salad. The plants also are very pretty with their vines draping over the hanging baskets. The only problem I have had is with hornworms, which seem to like these tomatoes as much as I do.

Those container tomatoes that will be returning to our yard next year with be the Tumbler tomatoes, Yellow Pear, Glory of Moldova and possibly Silvery Fir Tree, depending on how it produces. I am sure between now and then I will find other varieties to experiment with that is just part of the fun of gardening.


                                                  Rebecca Whitford