Apartment dwellers no longer need to be envious of friends and family members who grow tomatoes in their larger yards. With just a small and sunny patio or balcony, tomatoes can be a winner. Grow them in pots or containers that are at least 12 inches in diameter. Use any slightly acidic potting soil to produce healthy tomatoes--just make sure your container has at least one drainage hole.
Take your pick of numerous cherry tomato varieties for your container planting. Varieties include tiny Tim, sweet 100, Chadwick cherry, the yellow cherry gold, yellow canary, small fry, Thai pink and peacevine. If you have a choice between determinate and indeterminate varieties, choose determinate because the plants will remain naturally compact. You can prune or pinch back indeterminate types, such as the peacevine, according to the Seeds of Change website. This seed grower and supplier reports the peacevine cherry tomato has a “complex flavor that begins tart and finishes sweet.”
Superior flavor is the claim to fame of the grape type tomato called sweet olive. This smaller variety of tomato is a good choice for container planting, according to Trade Winds Fruit Company. It was the No. 3 winner in a taste test called Tomatomania, held in Los Angeles in 2002. Tomatoes from this plant are oval shaped. The plants are compact yet productive.
You can easily grow yellow or red pear tomatoes in containers. These tomatoes generally form prolific clusters of 1-inch long fruit on indeterminate plants, so if space is truly limited, you can pinch back or prune rampant growth to keep your plant compact. The University of Illinois reports that the pear varieties are “sweet and tasty.” Many nurseries carry starter plants of these varieties. If you cannot find them in your town, purchase seeds from a catalog or online source and start them indoors, in as much light as possible, six weeks before your final spring frost.
The No. 1 winner in the 2002 tomato taste competition “Tomatomania” was the compact Russian variety called Black Plum. This heirloom paste-type tomato produces a prolific crop of 2-inch fruit that are dark mahogany with green tops. The Tomato Fest website reports that this variety has a sweet, tangy taste, and Seeds of Change says it dries well. All plum type tomatoes have lower water content than other tomatoes, making them a good choice for salsa and other sauces. Many other varieties of plum tomatoes exist: Roma is commonly available as a starter plant at nurseries, and you can purchase seeds for the varieties Ropreco, Amish paste and San Marzano.