For those short on garden space, a balcony can easily be used into a place to raise fresh tomatoes and other vegetables using a procedure known as container gardening. Using containers allows you to extend the growing season by moving the pots inside, if needed, and can reduce plant pests and disease. For most tomato varieties, you will need a 5-gallon pot for each plant you wish to grow. You will also need to start the tomato seed indoors at least six weeks before they are transplanted to containers and placed on the balcony.
Starting the Seed
Fill one or more peat pots with potting soil to within 1/2 inch of the top. You will need one peat pot for every tomato you wish to grow in containers.
Place the filled peat pots in a shallow pan or tray and water thoroughly until both the pots and soil are wet and moist.
Place two tomato seeds in each peat pot and cover with approximately 1/4 inch of potting soil.
Slide the pan into a large, clear plastic bag. Leave the end of the bag open to allow for ventilation. If you don't have a plastic bag, cover the pots loosely with plastic wrap. This will help speed germination.
Place the covered peat pots in a warm area until the seeds germinate. Remove the plastic when the seedlings break through the soil. Thin the plants to one plant per peat pot. Water the pots often to keep the soil moist.
Transplanting to Containers
Fill each 5-gallon container 3/4 full of good quality, moist potting soil.
Place a single peat pot into the center of the container.
Fill the area around and above the peat pot with more moist potting soil. The entire peat pot should be buried in the soil.
Water and fertilize the tomato plant in the container. You can use any brand of fertilizer available for tomatoes. Follow the package directions to determine how much fertilizer to feed.
Insert a tomato stake into the pot approximately 1 inch away from the tomato plant. As the plant grows, use plant ties or tape to secure the plant to the stake.
Place the container on a sunny portion of the balcony during warm spring days. Bring the container inside on nights where frost may be possible in your area. Once all danger of frost has passed, you can leave the plants on the balcony full time.
Water the tomatoes as needed to keep the soil around the plants moist.
About this Author
G. K. Bayne is a freelance writer, currently writing for Demand Studios where her expertise in back-to-basics, computers and electrical equipment are the basis of her body of work. Bayne began her writing career in 1975 and has written for Demand since 2007.