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How to grow the best potted tomato plants in Central New York (2023)

Story by Staff Writer • Jordan First Insurance • Published 05/19/2023


Welcome, all CNY gardeners! Whether you have limited space or want more control over your tomato plants, growing tomatoes in pots is an excellent alternative to in-ground planting. In this guide, we'll share valuable tips to help you achieve a bountiful harvest of potted tomatoes, perfectly suited to our unique climate and growing season.


The Right Tomato

Selecting tomato varieties adapted to container gardening is crucial for success. Consider these factors when choosing your tomato plants:

  • Compact Varieties, such as cherry tomatoes produce a large quantity of small tomatoes but are easily maintained in a close quarters environment.

  • Early-Maturing Varieties: Choose varieties with a shorter growing season to ensure a successful harvest in our northern climate. Our recommendation is a Roma tomato, known for its hardiness in colder climates.

Selecting the Perfect Container

The right container provides the foundation for healthy tomato plants. Here's what to consider:

  • Size Matters Use containers with a minimum diameter of 15 inches and a depth of at least 10 inches to accommodate the root system.

  • Drainage is Key Ensure the containers have adequate drainage holes to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot.

PRO TIP Wal-Mart sells its own version of a self-feeding planter for around $10-15 in most stores nationwide.


Preparing the Potting Mix

Creating a nutrient-rich growing medium is essential for thriving tomato plants. Follow these steps:

  • High-Quality Soil Use a well-draining potting mix enriched with organic matter to provide essential nutrients.

  • Add Amendments Incorporate compost or aged manure into the potting mix for improved water retention and fertility.

PRO TIP Dig up a few earthworms to put in each pot! Worms are great to regenerate and refresh soil in a potted environment.


Jordan First Insurance

Planting and Care Tips

Proper planting and care ensure your tomato plants stay healthy and productive. Follow these general guidelines for planting to make sure you're giving your plants the best care:

  • Place a sturdy support structure, such as a cage or stake, in the pot before planting the tomato seedling.

  • Tomatoes require consistent moisture. Water deeply when the top inch of soil feels dry, avoiding excessive wetness to prevent diseases like blight.

  • Apply a balanced organic fertilizer every two to three weeks to provide essential nutrients for robust growth and fruit production.

Our region's unique climate poses challenges for tomato cultivation. Growing anywhere in upstate or central New York is more difficult because we get far less sunlight than other regions of the country, and our winters come much faster.

  • Use season-extending techniques such as mulching, row covers, or small greenhouses to protect young plants from late spring frosts or extend the growing season in the fall.

  • Position your containers in a sunny location, ensuring they receive at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day. Get these guys as much sun as you can.

Growing juicy tomatoes in pots is an excellent way to enjoy homegrown goodness, even in Central New York's climate. By following these tips, selecting suitable varieties, and providing proper care, you'll be rewarded with a plentiful harvest of flavorful tomatoes. So roll up your sleeves, grab your pots, and let the tomato-growing adventure begin.


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