Versatile Tomatoes to Grow Anywhere

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Versatile Tomatoes to Grow Anywhere

It’s No Surprise that Tomatoes are One of the Most Grown Vegetable Plants in the World

Tomatoes are incredibly useful and are found in so many different dishes. They’re also easy to grow, making them the ideal starter plant for most gardeners. Tomato plants are robust and have high yields. This means you’ll get a ton of tomatoes from one plant. There are many reasons to grow tomatoes, but what do you do if you don’t have the space to grow them?

The answer is simple. Grow them anywhere! Tomato plants, just like their versatile fruits, come in many sizes. You can grow tomatoes in nearly any space or living condition. In fact, I have several dwarf tomato plants growing in a small hydroponic system on my living room end table. If space is your concern with tomato plants, don’t worry. We’re going to cover how you can grow tomatoes anywhere.

All About Tomato Plants

When you imagine growing tomato plants, you probably imagine walking out to your garden and harvesting ripe, juicy tomatoes. You’ve seen typical tomato plants: ones that are surrounded by a cage and a few feet tall. Some tomato plants can easily top several feet. You may have witnessed this for yourself if you accidentally grew tomatoes that were developed for greenhouse growing. These varieties can easily reach heights of over 30 feet in one growing season.

Prior to innovation in how we can grow tomatoes, the large space requirement for tomato plants was a limiting factor for many gardeners. When you compared the space needed to grow most tomato plants, smaller plants like lettuce, radishes or carrots seemed to be the easier choice.

But in 2006, the Dwarf Tomato Project began. It was a project stared by North Carolina tomato grower and enthusiast Craig LeHoullier and Australian gardener Patrina Nuske Small. They started the project as they’d both heard frequent requests from gardeners who wanted to grow tomatoes but didn’t have the space. Their project lasted one year and resulted in over 67 varieties of dwarf tomatoes. You can learn more about the Dwarf Tomato Project here.

Plant breeding has allowed seed companies to develop smaller tomato plants that are suitable for growing in smaller spaces. And while they require less space to grow, they still produce loads of tomatoes. These tomato plants are often referred to as ‘dwarf’ tomatoes or ‘patio’ tomatoes. They are developed to reach heights of less than 5 feet at maturity, with some maxing out at heights of only a couple of feet.

The smaller size of these tomato plants makes it much easier to grow them in smaller spaces. They will need less space for their roots and less space for the top of the plant as well. People who were previously unable to grow tomato plants due to apartment living or small backyard spaces can use these small varieties to grow tomatoes.

If you’re looking to grow a really small tomato plant, you might want to consider Micro Dwarf tomato varieties. Most of these produce cherry tomatoes, so you won’t be able to grow large slicing tomatoes with these plants but you’ll get the full flavor of a fresh tomato in a tiny plant. Micro Dwarf tomato plants top out at less than two feet tall. Many of them will be much shorter than that, reaching heights closer to one foot. Their small size means you can grow them in as little as a 6-inch pot on your countertop or windowsill. These are the tomatoes that I’m growing on my end table in my living room. Don’t let the small size of these tomato plants fool you; my little cherry tomato plants are loaded with tomatoes!

How to Care for Smaller Tomato Plants

The care for smaller tomato plants is very similar to the care needed of large, full sized tomato plants. They will need ample space to grow, water and plenty of fertilizer. All tomatoes, even small ones, are heavy feeders. Producing tomatoes is a lot of work and requires a lot of nutrients from the soil. You’ll want to ensure that your tomatoes, even small varieties, have plenty of nutrients to use.

The mature size of the tomato plant will determine what size container you need to grow it in. A full-sized tomato plant needs at least 5 gallons of soil for proper root development. Smaller varieties will require less growing space. A plant that reaches 5 feet in height may only need a 2.5 gallon container of soil. Micro Dwarf varieties can grow well in half of a gallon of soil.

Most smaller tomato plants don’t require much pruning. Some larger, full-sized tomatoes will produce suckers that you can remove. This has been bred out of some smaller varieties, so you may not need to prune suckers as often. Keep an eye on the overall growth and remove leaves that are yellow, damaged, or dying back to get the biggest yield.

One of the benefits to growing smaller tomato plants is fewer pests. Tomatoes grown in containers aren’t 100% safe from pests, but the instances of pests being an issue is much less likely. Many pests that affect tomatoes will emerge from the soil each year. When you plant small tomatoes in containers, the fresh soil will be free of those pesky bugs that want to eat your tomato plants. Also, many people interested in these smaller varieties want to grow a smaller plant because they want to be able to grow them indoors. If you’re growing smaller varieties indoors, pest issues are eliminated.

One of the things you’ll want to keep in mind when growing tomatoes indoors or on a patio or balcony is that you may need to supplement their light. Remember when I said tomatoes are heavy feeders? They also need a lot of sunlight. If your tomato plants aren’t in direct sunlight for at least 6-8 hours a day, you’ll need to supplement with artificial grow lights. Many indoor tomato growing systems have supplemental lights attached to them for this purpose.

Growing small tomatoes in soil isn’t your only option. You can also grow tomatoes hydroponically. A hydroponics system is a growing system that doesn’t have soil. The roots of the plant are either submerged or sprayed with water and a nutrient solution. Many of the countertop growing systems are hydroponic systems. There are several benefits to growing in a hydroponic system, one of the chief ones being no soil. If you’re growing on your countertop, you may not like the idea of a container full of potting soil on your counter. A hydroponic system avoids that mess.

Hydroponic systems are also a great fit to growing tomatoes in a greenhouse or sunroom. If you do most of your gardening in one of these structures, use a hydroponic system to grow tomatoes. Bato buckets are an ideal system to use to grow tomatoes in a greenhouse.

Don’t let the lack of space stop you from growing tomatoes. There are so many ways to grow smaller tomatoes, even in the tightest of spaces.