Fresh garden tomatoes are summer treats on their own or added to a variety of recipes. Tomatoes also are well-suited to container gardening, so if space is an issue, tomatoes can be grown on a balcony or patio. Most tomato varieties can be grown in flower pots, but there are hybrids available that are grown just for a container garden. Dwarf varieties, cherry tomatoes and patio hybrids are readily available at most garden centers and nurseries.
Fill a 2- to 5-gallon flower pot with a moist potting mixture for dwarf and patio tomatoes. Plant full-size varieties a 10-gallon pot. Leave a 2-inch space between the top of the potting mix and the rim of the pot.
Add 2 tbsp. of a balanced, slow-release fertilizer (10-10-10 or one formulated for tomatoes) to the potting mixture and combine it.
Grasp the tomato seedling by its stem near the soil surface. Tap the pot lightly with your free hand to loosen it, then pull the pot off the soil ball.
Plant the tomato in the flower pot to the same depth it was at in its nursery pot. Firm the soil around the plant lightly by hand.
Insert a 4- to 5-foot wooden stake into the potting mix behind the tomato plant. Push the stake into the mix until it touches the bottom of the flower pot.
Water the tomato transplant until the excess moisture drains from the bottom of the flower pot. Water the tomato whenever the soil begins to feel dry.
Tie the tomato plant to the stake loosely with a cloth or plastic plant tie when it is 12 to 16 inches tall. Tie the plant every 8 inches as it grows, placing the ties above a branch each time.
Harvest tomatoes when they reach full color and size and when the fruit feels firm to the touch. Frequent harvesting encourages further fruit set.