Tomatoes are sensitive plants that cannot withstand extreme temperatures – whether hot or cold. Also, they cannot tolerate improper watering, poor soil, uncooperative daily weather, nutritional imbalance, parasites, viruses, etc.
If you’re a homeowner and want a little tomato garden on your balcony, you may have many questions. What soil works best? How many seeds/ seedlings per pot? What’s the best size of the pots? How many times should you water them?
If you have such questions, you’re in the right place. Today, we’re looking at the best methods of growing tomatoes on a balcony.
Prepare Your Balcony to Receive Your Tomato Seedlings
Varieties That Grow Best in Containers
Tomatoes grow better in specific conditions, so you need to know the varieties that work well in your area. Also, growing a full-sized indeterminate tomato plant on your small balcony is a recipe for disaster, especially if it gets exposed to heavy winds and lack of sunlight.
Here are some small determinate varieties that you should consider.
- Cherry-sized tomatoes: Red Robin, Tumbling Tom, MicroTom, Sweetheart of the Patio, and Sweet’ n’ Neat.
- Fist-sized tomatoes: Patio Princess, Bush Goliath, Totem
The cherry-sized tomatoes are the best for balcony growth, as they don’t require big containers. On the other hand, fist-sized varieties require more soil (at least three gallons) – a weight that may overwhelm you when shifting.
Best Climate for Tomato Growth
Tomatoes grow best in warm temperatures between 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal vine growth and fruit production. Any temperature lower or higher than this lowers plant metabolism.
Tomatoes need 6-8 hours of sunlight daily while under good air circulation. Don’t keep your tomatoes in congested or enclosed balconies, as they’re sensitive to heat.
We recommend going with a smaller plant that you can care for and reap well. If you’re going with an indeterminate variety, you’ll need to have bigger pots (roughly 20 gallons) as they grow to be 6 to 8 or more feet tall. An undersized container results in stunted growth and may lead to a poor harvest.
Also, ensure that all containers have drainage holes.
How to Grow Tomatoes on a Balcony
Pick a Good Spot
Ensure that your balcony receives more than six hours of sunlight a day. If some parts do so, you must move the plants to that section daily. Alternatively, you can purchase hanging baskets for your pots if there’s some sunlight on the railings.
Pick an Appropriate Pot
We’ve seen the best tomato varieties that you can grow without straining. For these, a pot with 18 to 24 inches diameter works best. Smaller containers hold less water, hence requiring more watering sessions. Furthermore, if you live in warmer areas, avoid black containers as they hold a lot of unnecessary heat.
Fill in the Pot with Quality Soil
Garden soil is heavy and may contain disease organisms, and hence is not appropriate for the balcony. Instead, go with the finest quality potting soil or aged nutrient-enriched compost. Ensure it’s light and fluffy, allowing air and moisture to seep through the soil.
Plant One Tomato in Each Pot
You can plant a maximum of two tomatoes in one pot, but having one will give you the best results. Plant the seed about 1/8 inch deep and the seedlings to a depth of 6 or more inches (to cover roots plus two-thirds of the stem), depending on its length. Cover the soil with light mulch to hold moisture.
Water Your Tomato Seedlings Regularly
Tomatoes need moist but not wet soils to grow best. Ensure to water your seed/ seedling upon planting. Afterward, check the soil on a daily basis to see if it’s dry and water accordingly. When the plant gets bigger, start watering once or twice per day, depending on the ambient conditions.
Provide a Support Structure
Tomatoes are vines plants, and you should provide support immediately after planting, as doing so afterward may disturb the root structure. A traditional tomato cage works well in this case.
Begin with a premium potting mix to give your tomato seedlings a brilliant start. Afterward, add continuous-release fertilizer for stronger stems and juicier tomatoes. The fertilizer contains calcium too, which is essential to control blossom end rot.