Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable grown by home gardeners in America, according to horticulturists with the University of Illinois. Tomatoes are tasty, nutritious and relatively easy to grow, and even if you don't have an inch of land to spare, you can still grow tomatoes in containers on your patio or deck. The trick is to choose the right variety of tomato plant and make sure that you place it in an area on your patio that receives at least some sunlight each day.
Select the right tomato plant. Choose a determinate variety, which stops growing once the flower cluster is formed. In addition, choose a smaller variety and one that does well in partial shade, if you patio does not receive full sunlight. Varieties that work well as container plants include Tiny Tim, which produces small, 1-inch tomatoes, and Patio Hybrid, which produces medium-sized tomatoes on a compact plant.
Choose the right-size container. Sam Cotner, a professor of horticulture at Texas A&M University, recommends a five-gallon pot for one tomato plant. Make sure the container has drainage holes and a water catch tray on the bottom.
Fill the container with a synthetic potting mix. These planting mediums are lightweight, do not have weed seeds, and are well-draining--all characteristics that help tomatoes and other vegetables thrive. These mixes usually contain peat moss, perlite, bark and other items.
Wet the potting medium thoroughly before transplanting your tomato seedling from the container you purchased it in to your new pot. Carefully loosen the plant from the temporary pot and place it in the wet potting medium.
Tamp down the potting medium around the tomato plant and fertilize it with a balanced (10-10-10) liquid fertilizer. Place a 2-inch layer of straw mulch on top of the soil to keep it moist and cool.
Place the container in a location where it will receive as much sun as possible. Keep the soil moist but not saturated. In many instances, this will require daily watering during the growing season. Empty the water tray as soon as the tomato has stopped draining. Otherwise, the plant may develop root rot.