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Apr 16, 2009 10:54 AM

Worthwhile patio tomatoes?

Last year, I grew the "patio" cultivar of tomatoes, I harvested all of two the whole summer----now they were tasty and the plant never got very big which was desirable but the yield was pretty small. I don't really like brushing up against tomato foliage so I'd rather have a smaller plant and I like a high acid tomato. Anyone have favorite varieties that are worth while, producing early and often. I'm considering the hanging basket versions that are along the lines of cherry tomatoes because they always seem to have a lot of fruit but I'd rather have a more normal size/non-sweet tomato if possible.

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  1. I've had double duty hanging baskets where a hole is poked in the bottom out of which you stick the tomato plant (can't really be too big when you do this). Then put the soil on top and plant herbs into that. When it hangs the cherry/grape tomatoes grow downwards and the herbs grow upwards. I always plant larger tomatoes in the ground, but the squirrels and chipmunks usually trash the fruit when the mistake them for the walnuts in the back.

    1. There is a variety called Silvery Fir Tree that is small enough to grow in containers, produces early, and tastes better than most varieties you can grow in a container. Haven't grown it myself, but posts on another gardening board say it's one of the best for patio growing.

      I've seen plants in garden stores now and then, but you probably will need to grow from seed. Here's one online source. There are others.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Zeldog

        Golden Nugget: I haven't yet grown it myself (am going to this year), but sounds promising. It is a determinate type that is supposed to be early to fruit and will keep producing as long as you pick.

        1. re: DMW

          I have grown Gold Nugget for a fair number of years in both containers and the ground. Containers with small cages have worked best. It is quite early (have had fruit by Independence Day in Chicago) but as with all determinate types poops out after a while no matter how well you pick.

        2. I do a variety. Early Girl, Brandywine, and an early grape tomato. Every once and a while I pop in a yellow variety which always sounds good, but nobody wants to eat them. I live in a cool summer place so I use red soil topper mulch. It gets the soil heatyed quicker and, hence, earlier toms. My neighbor tried the hanging topsy turvey thing last year and her tomatoes were not very big and the plant very under producing. Ask around on that.

          Here is a pretty good table to help you decide what you might want:

          Make a list of a few so you have backups if your local nursery does not have the ones at the top of your list.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Sal Vanilla

            One of my favorite "patio" tomatoes is called Lime Green Salad. It's one of Tom Wagner's creations (before he came up with his much more well known Green Zebra) unlike zebra (or for that matter most open pollinated "heirloom" tomatoes) Lime green salad is determinate (or at least it eventually stop adding on plant height) so that it stays small enough to be growable in a large pot. It produces slighty flattened green (ripe) tomatoes with a flavor simliar to evergreen (which it think is one of its ancestors) or the better strains of green zebra, that is juicy and zippy.

            1. re: Sal Vanilla

              Brandywine in a container? Since it is an indeterminate variety, which basically means the vines just keep growing instead of stopping at a certain point, I wouldn't think it would be well-suited to container growing.
              Plus, it takes a looong time for the fruit to mature.
              I plant mine in a small raised bed and it quickly takes over and needs tons of staking to keep it contained and to keep the branches from breaking under the weight of the fruit.

              However, it is one of the best-tasting slicing tomatoes, imho, and well-worth any effort to grow :)

              1. re: choco_lab38

                If brandywine or any other indeterm. tomato gets wild, you can easily hammock it. I am doing one just like I did last year in my very hot patio. Plus the hammock cuts down on moisture induced rot/mildewey gag-a-fur (ok that is my word.).. mold. Last year I had so many tomatoes (albeit late) that they covered half a ping pong table when stored. All from a pot on my patio. I am also going with an Early Girl this year... potted. Doing a couple grapes in the back yard. It was a long winter. I may have gone slightly ape.

                1. re: Sal Vanilla

                  We've also planted Brandywines and other not-specifically-patio tomatoes in containers (12- or 16-inch or so pots) on the patio and had no problem with them. Just staked 'em, which we would do anyway if they were in the ground. I also know people who top off their tomato plants to keep them short and bushy, but that's not something I've done.

                  We've also had success with cukes and peas in a patio container (just trellis and train them to climb).

              2. re: Sal Vanilla

                I really should have read your post before heading out today and buying a Topsy Turvy and an Early Girl to put in it. It's just under a foot in size in the pot. I know not to expect too much, but it seemed like a fun experiment. I'm in Western Central Florida, and I have no idea when to expect fruit.

                1. re: TampaAurora

                  Oh getting fruit there early with an Early Girl will be a cinch. I do not know how the topsey turvey works in more tomato hospitable climates. The main stalk on the early girl is as strong as a horse's neck so the weight (and it will be considerable) will be easily born when you decide to harvest. You may want to strengthen the contraption that holds it in the air though if it looks flimsy.

                  I LOVE the idea the guy above had for trellising beans. You could easily do that on a patio. Fla - big ol' pole beans! Around your pots remember to plant your basil, some chives and maybe some pretty nasturtium (because they are good pest companions and because they taste good/grow well together).

                  1. re: Sal Vanilla

                    I have a jungle on my 6x15 foot patio of tomatos, jalapenos, new potatoes, and green beans, plus a bunch of house plants. I don't have a problem with brushing up against tomato plants per the original post, and have now harvested over a hundred cherry tomatos, sweet millions and Matt's wild cherries, and literally have maybe a thousand more in the works. I also have a patio tomato plant, plus bush celebrity and better bush, all doing well. All of these are grown in cotainers.

              3. Sungold is my favorite, grows really well in a container, highly productive, and always places highly in my garden club's "tomato taste-off". There's a related variety, sungella that's great too.