Tomatoes are tender perennial plants grown as a summer annual in the United States. This popular garden vegetable produces 10 to 15 lbs. of fruit per plant. It only takes a few tomato plants to supply a family with enough fruit for the season. Tomato plants are grown in flowerpots when a gardener has limited space. Container vegetable gardening lets the gardener control more of the growing conditions like soil type, amount of sunlight and temperature.
Fill a flowerpot with equal parts of peat moss, potting soil, perlite and manure. Mix in 1/2 cup of slow-release 5-10-10 or 5-10-5 fertilizer. Dig a hole and plant the tomato seedling in the good-draining soil.
Place the tomato plant pot outside in an area that receives at least eight hours of sun per day after the last frost date has passed. Ideal growing temperatures are 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature goes over 80 degrees Fahrenheit. move the flowerpot into the shade temporarily. Move the tomato plants into an area with wind protection if a bad summer storm hits.
Pour 2 to 6 qts. of water into the top of the flowerpot each day. Poke a craft stick into the soil and remove it. If soil sticks to the stick, the tomato plant does not need watering.
Feed the tomato plants starting in mid-July with 20-20-20 or 15-30-15 water-soluble fertilizer. Feed once a week at the rate recommended in the fertilizer instructions. Always water the flowerpot first before fertilizing so the roots are protected from burning.
Surround the tomato plant with a wire cage with spaces at least 6 inches apart. This allows your hand through the cage wires for maintenance and harvesting. Thread tomato branches through the spaces so they are not resting on the ground.
Pick the fully-ripened fruits while they are still firm. Fresh tomatoes are ready for harvest in 55 to 105 days from seed. Place the freshly picked fruit in the shade.