This is a good time to start thinking about final position planting and containers for tomatoes to grow your plants to maturity.

Here are a few options:

  • Standard Pots
  • Air Pots
  • Fabric Pots
  • Grow Bags (with or without grow pots)
  • Hanging Baskets and Topsy Turvy Planters
  • Oasesbox – see below
  • Quadgrow Planter
  • Autopot System
  • Hozelock Waterer
Containers for Tomatoes - Oasesbox SWP
Oasesbox self watering planter

Another important consideration is the way the containers will be watered.

Watering, auto watering and holiday watering

Perhaps a good place to start is by stating what we are trying to avoid:

  • Saturated soil without enough air.
  • Soil that doesn’t hold enough moisture and dries out too quickly.

Options
Containers for tomatoes stood in trays require a wet/dry cycle or a reservoir. The good thing about these methods is that plants can drink any time they like without saturated soil or other growing medium.

One of the issues when keeping water in trays is algae growth and the many uninvited little critters who appear. If a tray can be made light-proof, algae and other unwanted growth will be prevented.

Containers that drain freely, including hanging baskets, require watering at least twice daily in hot conditions – the best method is a timer. Plants can only absorb moisture while it is available

Watering Options

Option 1 – Top Watering
Hozelock Timer + Watering Kit

This is one of the simplest methods but can take some time to set up.
Great for holidays but doesn’t water and feed at the same time.

Option 2 – Plants in Trays
Water Container + Aqua Valve or Smart Valve + Tray

This is one of my preferred methods because feed can be added to the water container. The valve creates a wet/dry cycle which is ideal.

Watering tomatoes In Trays

Open trays are best made light-proof to avoid algae growth.

Light-Proof Tray
Tray, smart valve and black/white plastic cover.

A variation on this method is a deep tray full of gravel or perlite which can also hold water.

Option 3 – Autopot System (easy2grow)
Similar to the above and comes as a kit.
I’ve had great results from this system.

Option 4 – The Quadgrow Planter
Also very good and uses a reservoir system
Probably the simplest to set up!

Option 5 – Hozelock Grow Bag Waterer
An effective way to water grow bags using a reservoir system.
If plants are in fruit on a warm day, the modest size of the reservoir will need a regular top-up. This could be done with the hozelock timer.

Option 6 – Manual Labour or the Neighbour!
If you have a lot of plants, watering can be very time consuming so it’s best to have a backup plan for holidays and emergencies. Reservoir containers for tomatoes. also called self watering planter are very good.

The only job I’m not too fond of is cleaning the large pots!

Regards,
Nick

A good first pot for your seedlings is a polystyrene thermal cup – the kind you have coffee in without burning your hand! It’s easy to make holes in the bottom, the white surface reflects light and they are less prone to temperature changes. Thanks to a newsletter member Kaldip for the tip.

In a dull cloudy summer, white reflective surfaces make a difference. All professional growers are very aware of the need to maximise light.

8 Responses

  1. Rhys Jaggar
    | Reply

    Andy

    I also increased my yields radically last year but it wasn’t due to ring culture, more due to feeding regimens. Basically, I picked up on a comment Nick made in one of his newsletters about feeding regimens and it seemed to do the trick, along of course with the fantastic sunshine and warmth, which allowed me to mimic a Quadgrow by simply placing the 30cm final pots in saucers with water to a depth of about 1 inch. Due to the heat they needed topping up once or twice a day and it never got cold enough to worry about root damage.

    This year my aims are around improving:
    1. Leaf area for photosynthesis early in the season to maximise potential for fruit support in the active window of late May – mid September.
    2. Optimising the ripening process through appropriate reductions in food strength and watering volume.
    3. Spreading the season as far as possible using rapid strains at both ends of the growing cycle.

  2. andy
    | Reply

    did a lot of research two seasons ago on the ring culture method.i have to say that the last two seasons yields have been amazing.what a difference to just using the stand alone pot method.going to be trying a few more variations of the ring culture method this season,so it’s fingers crossed to see if it’s possible to better the last two seasons crops.does anyone else use or has anyone else tried this method and and had good results?

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Andy,
      Ring culture and bottomless pots (including grow pots) have always performed well for me. As you mention, they can be used in a number of different ways (not just with grow bags) and have the advantage of more control over feeding and watering.
      Nick

    • Rhys Jaggar
      | Reply

      Andy

      There was an article in the March edition of Gardeners’ World which looked at a variety of methods of growing tomatoes, including ring culture, grow-bags, pots etc etc.

      The ring culture did very well and the grow bags did rather badly in that experiment!

  3. Lauren
    | Reply

    If I want to use pots, then which size would you recommend using? I would use grow bags, but I am aware that they can dry out quicker. One other thing, do you ever use plant based fertilisers?

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Lauren,
      The size of pot depends on the medium used and the way the water/nutrients are delivered to the plant. In the Autopot system, pots only hold around 8 litres of soil but will out-perform pots twice their size because of the way the aqua valve works in a wet/dry cycle and also uses a 50-50 soil perlite mix.
      For standard pots 10 to 15 litres is about the right size, but the bigger pot allows for greater time between watering and less stress for the plant.
      I regularly use liquid seaweed but most of my organic fertilisers are animal based … chicken or horse manure and fish emulsion etc. I also use Bio Bizz products which are a range of Dutch organic feeds.
      Nick

  4. Rhys Jaggar
    | Reply

    Nick

    If you use a quadgrow which seems to have fairly small pots as its standard size, what sort of number of tomatoes do you get on, say, a Sungold cherry variety or a standard salad variety like, say, Alicante??

    Cheers

    Rhys

    • Nick
      | Reply

      Hi Rhys,
      If I remember correctly, the quadgrow pots are around 11 litres.
      I would expect at least an extra 50% yield per plant from a quadgrow compared to a grow bag or standard pot grown plant. The regular watering takes away plant stress and allows the plant to feed whenever it likes too.
      Cheers,
      Nick

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.