Balcony Tomatoes

(Question)

My Dad has moved into a sixth floor condo in Aurora Ontario. His suite is facing west with no buildings obstructing. He has always planted tomatoes and wants to try some in containers. He does not want cherry tomatoes as he likes larger cutting tomatoes. What kind and size of containers should we buy? Is a self watering one best? What soil should we use and are there any additions we should make over the growing season? Finally, what tomatoes do you recommend? if you can suggest where we might get them that would be wonderful!

Thanks!

(Answer)

Thank you for your inquiry. Before you begin your project you should consult with your building management for legal, safety, and weight considerations.

There are a number of things to keep in mind when choosing a container for growing vegetables:

In most cases, pots that are bigger in terms of width and volume are better, especially when growing large plants such as tomatoes. Larger containers provide plants with lots of root space and require less watering. The composition of  the container can also affect how often you have to water. Containers made of porous materials like clay dry out faster than those made of plastic or wood, therefore more frequent waterings are required especially in hot or windy conditions.which exist on a balcony. If you decide to utilize wood containers make sure they are made of rot resistant materials such as cedar. Do not use preservative- treated containers for edibles, because the chemicals may leach into the soil and then into your plants.

All containers that are utilized for growing vegetables should have drainage holes. Without drainage holes the soil and roots will become water logged and the plant will die.

If purchasing large containers you might like to consider a wheeled platform that you place under the container  which will allow you to move the plants around quite easily.

A self watering container is also an option. These pots will allow you to go away during the summer and not worry whether your plants are getting watered.

Lightweight, well-drained and well-aerated media is best for growing plants in containers. Garden soil alone will soon become compacted in a container garden, leading to poor aeration and water drainage. Your local  garden centres offer sterilized, soil less potting soil  that are ideal for planting in containers.

There are a wide variety of tomoatoes hybrids and heirloom varieties  to choose from. Your local garden center will have a wide variety of seeds as well as seedlings. The Toronto Botanical Garden Shops is also an excellent source for organic tomato seeds.

The following website provides additional information on growing vegetables in containers: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/ho-200.pdf

Enjoy the harvest.