A large garden is not a prerequisite for growing tomatoes at home. The only thing that is needed is a small outdoor area situated in the sun where a pot or two can be placed. Even apartment dwellers can grow tomatoes on a balcony. Growing patio tomatoes is easy and it does not take a great deal of supplies or time. Tomatoes will be ready to harvest in just 60 to 70 days from planting.
Place coffee filters or newspaper over the drain holes of your pot to keep the planting medium from draining out yet allowing excess water to drain. Then place a 1-inch layer of gravel at the bottom of the pot or bucket to ensure proper drainage.
Fill the pot halfway with potting soil mixed with 1/4 cup of slow release high nitrogen fertilizer. Fertilizer with the numbers 12-12-12 or 13-13-13 are best. Also add 1 tablespoon of lime to prevent dark spots on the bottom of the tomatoes.
Remove the tomato transplant from its container and loosen up the roots. Place it in the center of the pot and fill with soil up to the top. Choose only patio tomatoes as other types will not do well in a container. Patio tomatoes have stocky stems and are called a determinate tomato. This means they only grow to a particular size and stop growing.
Place a stake in the pot or bucket to give the tomato some extra support against wind. A tomato cage can also be used. Sprinkle on a little straw or leaf mulch to keep the moisture from evaporating quickly and place the pot in an area that gets six to eight hours of sun per day.
Water the tomato at the base of the plant. Container tomatoes need to be watered almost every day to every other day if there is no rain. Water until the excess runs out of the bottom of the pot.
Fertilize with tomato food or fertilizer every two to four weeks.
Pinch off any sucker branches that grow from the bottom or from the branches of the plant. Regular branches are thick and heavy. Suckers are thin and will not support the weight of any fruit. Pinch them off from the ground or at the "V" of a branch where they grow. Suckers sap the energy of the plant from good branches and from the fruit.