One would think that living in the heart of Houston doesn't lend itself well to growing tomatoes for the summer season. Things would be much easier if there were more open space and more sunlight to grow a pot of tomatoes, right?
Recently, I spoke with Sherri Harrah, from Plants For All Seasons on 249, and learned how to successfully plant a pot of tomatoes in an urban community. Although it is optimal to start growing them in January, Harrah says that you can still grow tomatoes even though it's later in the year.
Harrah says there are three important components in growing tomatoes.
- Big container size
Large containers allow the tomatoes to grow properly even if you don't have a garden bed for them to grow in. Harrah says that large pottery, ceramic or plastic pots work best.
Because tomatoes grow very long naturally -- Harrah says they are considered vines -- they need support. The pots must provide support for the tomatoes as they begin to grow. This is why a big pot is necessary; the bigger the pot, the sturdier it is, so there is less of a chance it will topple over. For adequate growth, tomatoes need a ton of sunlight. In fact, Harrah says they need to be in the sunniest place and receive sunlight for five to six hours during the day.
In addition to the most important components in harvesting tomatoes, you need to make sure that the container is well-drained.
"Water is a biggie," Harrah says. "Make sure the container is well-drained and water at the soil level. The foliage needs to be dry...less fungal problems."
Although it does take about four months for tomatoes to completely grow, Harrah offers advice in growing them later in the year, as well as what type of tomatoes do best during the warmer time of year.
"Start a variety that sets longer into the heat. When we get over 76 degrees at nighttime, start with a cherry type. It is not as long a form of maturity," Harrah says.
If you are limited on space, the patio-type tomato is easiest to maintain. According to Harrah, you can grow up to 15 or 20 pounds of tomatoes in a single pot at home.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.