A backyard garden plot is not necessary in order to grow tomatoes, the quintessential vegetable garden species. Tomato plants can thrive in pots, and a potted vegetable garden is ideal for those with limited or no garden space. Provide your potted tomato plant with the growing conditions it needs to thrive and produce dozens of ripe, juicy tomato fruit.
Choose a pot. For the best results with tomatoes, Ohio State University suggests using a pot with a minimum diameter of 22 inches. Texas A&M University recommends a pot capacity of 5 gallons. The bigger the pot, the better, as it allows more room for the tomato plant to spread its roots.
Fill the pot with a soil mix. Ideally, the soil must retain moisture while also draining well. For tomatoes, Ohio State University suggests mixing equal parts of potting soil, compost or peat moss, and perlite.
Fertilize the pot. Mix in a 14-14-14 slow-release garden fertilizer at a rate of 1/2 tbsp. of fertilizer for every gallon of soil. Stir the fertilizer thoroughly throughout the pot. This provides the future tomato plant with the nutrients it needs for adequate growth.
Plant the tomato seeds, sowing one seed per pot. Sink each seed approximately 1/4 inch below the soil surface.
Water the pot twice a day or as needed to keep the top 2 to 3 inches of soil moist. The tomato seeds will typically germinate within 14 days.
Continue watering twice daily, increasing watering intervals so that the soil is moist at the bottom of the pot, exhibited by moisture appearing in the pot's bottom drainage holes. Optionally, add mulch around the tomato seedling to limit moisture loss caused by evaporation.
Place the pot in a sunny location where the tomato plant receives a minimum of six hours of sunlight. Tomato plants thrive in sun and need lots of sunshine to produce their trademark fruit.
Fertilize the potted plant again once it begins to produce its first sets of fruit. This gives the plant a mid-season nutrient boost to ensure continued fruit production. Use any general water-soluble garden fertilizer, applied according to its labeled guidelines.