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General discussion regarding the techniques and methods used to successfully grow tomato plants in containers.

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Old December 11, 2021   #1
montyb
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Default Container for Paste Tomatoes

Had a great time growing tomatoes last year for first time in a long time. Want to again this year but we're going to be moving. I would like to have a few in containers just to be able to keep going with growing tomatoes. Mostly they will be cherry types that should be fine in containers. However, I'd love to try growing a paste tomato like san marzano (never grown paste tomatoes) Do you think it would work ok if I got a particularly large container?
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Old December 11, 2021   #2
PaulF
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The larger the better. Years ago during the Dwarf project I tried five gallon buckets and they did OK. Then it was in a ten gallon container and OK but still the plants were smaller, the tomatoes also smaller and production less than the same varieties grown in the ground.

That said, I still say it will work in your situation. Like all container grown plants, remember to add a plant food every ten days or so since with watering the nutrients will wash out more easily. A lower nitrogen formula will allow the fruit to develop and grow. High N will make lots of foliage with no tomatoes.
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Old December 11, 2021   #3
KarenO
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It may be a challenge to grow that firm of tomato in a container as often can be more prone to blossom end rot than other shapes.
Bigger for sure would be better in any case
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Old December 13, 2021   #4
MapleTree
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I grew several Italian Golds (a paste type) in 5 and 7 gallon containers last year. They did fine in both, but I think they liked the 7 gallon containers better. These are a shorter plant, which was why I picked them for containers. I grew two in the ground as well, neither in ideal spots since sticking them in was kind of an afterthought, and the tomatoes on them were about the same size as the ones in the containers. They might have had bigger tomatoes in a better location.

The ones in the ground produced all season and were some of the last I harvested before frost. We had an issue and lost nearly all our containers in the middle of summer, but I assume they'd have kept producing otherwise.

I had one plant that got blossom end rot badly, but the others didn't or only got it on one or two tomatoes. Since they were all treated the same, I'm thinking it was a genetic variation that caused a susceptibility (and I didn't save seed from that one).

Also, cage them even though they're in a container. I tried staking them with 5 foot bamboo stakes and that was not sufficient. The plants didn't get very tall (3.5 feet or so) but they need a cage.
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Old December 14, 2021   #5
AKmark
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I have trialed many paste varieties in containers. They grow about like the other 1000 varieties we have trialed in containers. A five gallon container is big enough for any tomato variety. Again... A five gallon container is big enough for any tomato variety. We put two plants in a five gallon container, we grow for production too. Determinates do just fine too, that would be one plant per. Everything is put on continuous feed fertilizer. Organics do best for us in raised beds, etc
We can get up to 50 pounds from some varieties in super large containers, but I get 20-25 out of a five gallon. I hope this makes sense? I have tried up to 25 gallon containers, the waste of money is colossal., We do use five gallon for a reason, it is the best balance point between production and cost I have found.

Last edited by AKmark; December 14, 2021 at 05:26 PM.
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Old December 15, 2021   #6
KarenO
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AKmark View Post
I have trialed many paste varieties in containers. They grow about like the other 1000 varieties we have trialed in containers. A five gallon container is big enough for any tomato variety. Again... A five gallon container is big enough for any tomato variety. We put two plants in a five gallon container, we grow for production too. Determinates do just fine too, that would be one plant per. Everything is put on continuous feed fertilizer. Organics do best for us in raised beds, etc
We can get up to 50 pounds from some varieties in super large containers, but I get 20-25 out of a five gallon. I hope this makes sense? I have tried up to 25 gallon containers, the waste of money is colossal., We do use five gallon for a reason, it is the best balance point between production and cost I have found.
Gardeners cannot easily replicate a professional fertigated greenhouse system.
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Old December 15, 2021   #7
paradajky
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I had an abysmal 2021 with tomatoes, including 5 gallon bucket grown plants. Almandine Dwarf did "okay" all things considered, but took so long that the plants were nearly gone by the time the tomatoes were ready to harvest. I had both San Marzano and super san marzano as well, both had really bad BER, despite having the same mix as the others. Two plants each, one in 1-1-1 mix other in raybo's earthtainer mix 3-2-1. Peat-bark-perlite by volume.
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Old December 15, 2021   #8
AKmark
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Quote:
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Gardeners cannot easily replicate a professional fertigated greenhouse system.
It's really easier than people think. Super easy, we really do teach hundreds a year how to mix in a bucket and simply pour it in the top, we have a large retail business, and we also farm. My parents do it in Texas, we also have property in Kentucky and show people there. Its actually common, not hard, very simple. Some use additional drips to alleviate watering issues, others just water when needed. There's a dozen ways. When I began selling certain products in my retail center, and showed people how to use them, the excitement far outstripped what we even expected. When farming, we count our pennies then dimes count themselves. If a person does not care about cost, then go for it, one can get trees in very large containers, multiple leads, lots of goodness.

Last edited by AKmark; December 15, 2021 at 05:50 PM.
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Old December 16, 2021   #9
zeuspaul
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What fertilizer do you use for the 5 gallon containers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AKmark View Post
It's really easier than people think. Super easy, we really do teach hundreds a year how to mix in a bucket and simply pour it in the top, we have a large retail business, and we also farm. My parents do it in Texas, we also have property in Kentucky and show people there. Its actually common, not hard, very simple. Some use additional drips to alleviate watering issues, others just water when needed. There's a dozen ways. When I began selling certain products in my retail center, and showed people how to use them, the excitement far outstripped what we even expected. When farming, we count our pennies then dimes count themselves. If a person does not care about cost, then go for it, one can get trees in very large containers, multiple leads, lots of goodness.
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Old December 16, 2021   #10
AKmark
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What fertilizer do you use for the 5 gallon containers?
We have trialed a few, but we have not found an adequate one part, although some are close like Flora Nova grow, 7-4-10. We had best results if we supplemented 3-5 ml of Cal-Mag per gallon with it at full strength. Maxigrow-bloom is okay too, but still add Cal-Mag. These are easy to use, are complete fertilizer mixes in one bottle or container.

For production 4-18-38 is awesome, its our gold standard now. We use 8 oz per 100 gallons, then add 8 oz of CaNO3, as well as 5 ounces plus of MgSO4.
Masterblend has a cute little kit we sell where they add the Epsom Salt in with the fertilizer the Calcium Nitrate is separate. (Two parts). You follow the directions and mix one into a bucket then stir it up. Then you add the second part. then mix them up together. This is a complete mix that works well in a container. I tested a mix following the scoop directions in the kit, and it was a 2.2 EC. This is right inline with our numbers we get when we use injectors using the mix numbers above. We do add a touch more Epsom Salt for our area, Mg is central to the chlorophyll molecule and we have extremely long days. I do use this as continuous feed in a container, some use it in dirt once a week or so, and have great results growing different veggies.
Jacks has a good mix, Technigro, Grow more, all professional grade fertilizers.

There's so many ways. What we are seeing in the business is this, people have an interest in growing in small spaces/ urban gardening. It's gone crazy, the public, city included, wants to put away food. We go to large conventions a few times a year, the industry leaders are even set back at the scale the interest in gardening has increased.

One thing you will have to be careful about when growing paste tomatoes is some will get BER if your watering is off, but no worse than Early Girl hybrid for a comparison. I'll tell you another goodie, a well grown paste tomato like a San Marzano, and spins can be great flavor wise, Opalka is good, Jersey Devil is very good, some Roma spins are good, several I thought have excellent complex flavor.

Your vines will explode if you follow this, you should keep them pruned somewhat, even a determinate, or you had better have alot of water. Keep in mind, they will take up a space, a bigger container means a bigger plant, the sky is the limit, but economic threshold is something to keep in mind too.

Container growing in long seasons is not as easy as growing in grandma's garden. The first year one will learn alot, identification of nutrient deficiency as well as antagonism of elements causing deficiency. If you really want to produce, you will soon own a pile of pH meters, EC meters, etc, partly joking, but it interesting, and pretty easy to be accurate and dismiss guessing from your program. The directions are no fun.... lol

One last thing, if you follow a program like this DO NOT TAILOR YOUR MEDIA. Use something like Pro Mix HP, Coco, etc. I swear, 90 percent of mishaps I see on these programs start with the home spun twist. These products mixes are at the upper thresholds of elemental distribution. In other words you can get antagonisms when you add to a media.

Last edited by AKmark; December 16, 2021 at 09:31 PM.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #11
montyb
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Thanks for the help & advice. I wish I could just plant them in the garden this year but due to moving containers is all I have to work with this year. I've seen some 20 gallon containers I'm going to try and see how it goes.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #12
Yak54
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All I can say is AKmark knows his stuff and speaks from considerable experience. I have tried to emulate his directions for my backyard grow bag garden using master blend in 15 gal grow bags filled with Promix. After growing tomatoes in the ground for more than 40 years I've never had the productivity like I do now using his suggestions. Last season my Dester plant produced 80 tomatoes. In 2020 my German Head plant produced 63 tomatoes and my Odoriko plant produced 101 tomatoes. Never had anywhere close to this growing them in the ground. It's labor intensive since I have to water (feed) them twice a day in July and August but that is what us old retired gardeners like to do.

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Old 5 Days Ago   #13
hl2601
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Wow @AKmark! Just saw your detailed fert routine above. Thanks for taking the time to write it all out. I grow a few in containers so off I go to find some of your "close" mixes or the MAsterblend mix. Call me silly, but I never thought to do it for the containers ( just a few of them) until now....Plus another revelation-my containers are too big. I do some dwarfs in them. They are whisky barrel sized. Maybe I can actually do 2 plants per container...what?! Squeezing more varieties in next summer??!! What a gift. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

Last edited by hl2601; 5 Days Ago at 11:40 AM.
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Old 5 Days Ago   #14
hl2601
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Did some sleuthing-
amazon has the 25 lb kit for 59.99

https://smile.amazon.com/MASTERBLEND...s%2C100&sr=8-7
59.99

BUT I am trying not to buy from Amazon and support small businesses. The company that produces the kit is from UTAH. free shipping over $29.
Here is that link

Utah company
https://www.powergrowsystems.com/col...nt=40214393166

56.99 free shipping

Now do I need an injector of some sort to add it into the soil, or can I just pour like I do other liquid ferts. Are injectors simply for those using hydroponics? Sorry if that is a stupid question!

Last edited by hl2601; 5 Days Ago at 11:38 AM. Reason: added content
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