About Patio Tomatoes
Patio and patio hybrid tomato varieties give away their gardening instructions in their names. The patio tomato plant is perfect for those with limited space. They are designed for growing in small spaces such as patios, decks or balconies in containers. They grow to about two feet tall, with plenty of dark green foliage. These dwarf tomatoes are a determinate tomato variety that can be called the ideal container plant, and have become one of the most popular small container tomatoes sold in the United States. Determinate types grow compactly and produce fruits that are close together. The patio plants also have relatively large fruit among the dwarf tomatoes, averaging about three to four ounces per tomato. Their strong main stem and bush-like shape make them perfect for a good tomato yield right from your patio.
Want to buy tomato plants online and have them shipped to you?
We recommend The Tasteful Garden for the online purchase of tomato plants. They carry heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, slicing tomatoes, black, orange, red and many, many other tomato varieties. Check out the Legend Tomato, shown above.
Ideal Soil Conditions for Tomatoes
When growing dwarf tomatoes in containers, you need a well-drained soil that is loose, but rich. A good choice is potting mix, which is mixed for this purpose, or make your own. For best results mix leaf mold or fine mulch with some peat moss, vermiculite or perlite for a lightening effect that will ensure good drainage. The basic soil that you mix these with should be a dark, moist soil like humus, or even compost. Add more peat, mulch or equivalents to heavy compost, though, to be sure it doesn’t retain too much water and risk root rot. The mixture should resemble potting soil when you’re done.
Patio Tomatoes Planting Time
Patio tomatoes mature about 65 to 70 days from planting, so keep this in mind when planning your start date. If you live in colder climates with a short growing season, its a good idea to start with a nursery-bought tomato seedling in mid-May to get a jump on the year and be sure you get the most out of your plant. If you have the luxury of a warmer climate, start Patio seeds in April. Tomatoes need a consistent nighttime temperature of about 55 degrees Fahrenheit to set their fruit, so you should begin to see fruit in July, with the best harvest in September.
The Legend Tomato is an easy to grow hybrid that is disease resistant and ideal for growing in a container on your patio!
Planting Patio Tomatoes
Your tomatoes will do much better if they are out in natural sunlight and receiving natural rainfall. If possible, try to put them in a patio or balcony location where there is no roof or overhang to block sun and rain. Patios bush out pretty thickly, so the size of the pot is important. Choose a pot size that’s at least a foot in diameter or width. Plant seeds no more than a 1/4 inch deep, and water and fertilize immediately.
If you start with seedlings, create a hole big enough for the soil clump the plant arrived in, soak the hole with water, and place the seedling, soil, roots and all, in the hole. Firm up the soil around the base of the seedling, and be sure the bottom leaves are not covered in dirt. Fertilize the same day with liquid fertilizer.
Patio Tomato Care
As with all container tomatoes, proper watering is essential. These plants like consistent moisture and you will need more frequent watering than vegetable garden tomatoes, since the tomato plants are limited to the water that is in the pot. Every day is not too often through the hot summer days.
Of course, you don’t need to water the tomatoes if it has rained the same day and they are on a roofless patio. However, pay attention to the amount of sun your Patios are getting. They can burn and yellow if your watering doesn’t keep pace with the level of full sun. Fertilize with liquid fertilizer once during the growing season, when you see fruit beginning to form.
Harvesting Patio Tomatoes
Pick Patios when the flavorful fruit is firm to the touch, and fully colored. They keep best on the vine when the temperature doesn’t go above 75 degrees Fahrenheit, so keep an eye out for softening and ripening quickly in hotter temperatures than that. You may have to pick tomatoes every day in very hot weather to keep them from going soft.
Although there is nothing like ripe homegrown tomatoes, if you have a lot of plants, harvesting can become quite a balancing act between how much you can eat or give away, and how many tomatoes are ripe. Of course, if you end up with more than you can use, canning or making tomato sauce is always a good way to store and enjoy tomatoes later.
As for final harvesting, when the first killing frost is expected in your area, harvest all green mature tomatoes from your plants and bring them inside. Wrap them in newspaper or brown paper and store where they are not exposed to light. They will ripen slowly over the next month.
Tomato Pests & Diseases
The easiest way to avoid most tomato diseases is with proper care. Water plants when needed, make sure soil is well drained, and if you notice any bugs on the plant, pick or wash them off. If leaves are yellowing or have spots, remove the diseased parts immediately. Avoid blight by watering with a narrow-spouted watering can and directing the water into the soil of the container rather than on the plant’s leaves. Use a balanced fertilizer like 10-10-10 to avoid overloading the plant with any specific mineral. Otherwise, Patio and Patio hybrids should be resistant to common tomato problems. Patio VF is the common disease-resistant variety available.
If you’re not sure that’s what you have, check garden centers or a nursery or seed catalog information for your plant. The letters VF behind the name mean it is resistant to verticillium and fusarium wilts, while VFN adds resistance to nematodes, and VFNT adds resistance to tobacco mosaic virus. These last two should not be a problem when container gardening.
Want to learn more about Patio tomatoes?
A good resource is the University of Illinois Extension’s “Watch Your Garden Grow” guide to tomatoes.
Answers to almost all possible tomato questions from the University of North Dakota’s Horticulture specialist.
The Tomato Growers Supply Company offers seeds and tells you about Patio and other small tomatoes.
Like other vegetables? Check out the Patio Garden Tips site to learn about tomatoes and everything else you can grow in a patio garden.
Tomato Growing Tips covers growing tomatoes at home, whether it’s on the patio, in a traditional garden, or in a raised bed.