Growing tomatoes at home helps home gardeners save money on their grocery budget, while providing healthy food for their household. Growing tomatoes is not a one-size-fits-all activity; there are several different ways to grow tomatoes at home. A home gardener can choose the best option that fits with her lifestyle and available space.
Directly in the Ground
Tomatoes grow well in rich, well-draining soil. If your soil is sandy or clay-like, this can be mixed with potting mix and compost to make it better quality. Before planting tomato seedlings in the ground, the soil must be worked several inches deep to break down clods and make soil uniformly fine. Tomatoes planted directly into the ground need to be caged or staked for support.
In a Container
All varieties of tomato plants that grow in the ground will also grow in a container. The size of the full-grown plant dictates the size of the container that the plant needs. Patio hybrid tomatoes, dwarf bush tomatoes and hanging basket tomatoes grow in containers that are 12 to 14 inches in diameter. Larger varieties, such as Roma and beefsteak require larger containers, such as 5-gallon buckets or plastic bins. As with tomatoes grown in the ground, these larger plants also need to be supported with cages or stakes.
Growing tomatoes in containers gives gardeners the ability to control the growing conditions by moving the container into desirable light and weather and out of undesirable conditions.
In Potting Soil Bags
Potting soil bags can serve as a container for smaller hybrids of tomato plants. The potting soil provides the nutrients that the plants need, and the upper layer of the bag helps to retain moisture in the soil. To plant a tomato seedling in a bag of potting soil, lay the bag on its side, not upright. Cut an X-shaped slit into the top of the bag to plant the tomato seedling.
Growing Upside Down
Suspended bags or buckets serve as containers for growing tomatoes upside down. This method removes stress from the root system and allows the fruit to develop suspended in air, without the need for caging or support. Commercially available products, such as the Topsy Turvey, were designed to enable to home gardener to grow their tomato plants upside down with ease. You can also make your own upside-down growing systems.