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Art Knapp
So Much More Than Plants
Art Knapp

Art Knapp Articles

How to Grow Great Tomatoes on Your Patio

in Tips and Tutorials

How to Grow Great Tomatoes on Your Patio.jpg

Not everyone has a large vegetable garden, and it is entirely possible to grow quite a few fruits and vegetables on a patio or terrace. Tomatoes are easy to grow on the patio. So, here, we’re listing a few guidelines for how to get the best results growing tomatoes on your patio.


First, your tomatoes need a lot of sun, at least six hours per day. We are referring to the climate in the Pacific Northwest, where summer temperatures are between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius. So, you need a west or south exposure to get the best results. The cooler morning sun is not enough.

Pot Size

A good rule of thumb is go for 1 cubic foot of dirt for small varieties like cherry tomatoes, at least 2 cubic feet of dirt for larger determinate varieties, and at least 3 cubic feet of dirt for indeterminate varieties.

Although pots are not usually perfect cylinders, you can get a good idea how much dirt your pot holds by calculating as if it was a cylinder. The formula is V (volume) = h (height) X π (pi) X r2 (radius squared). There’s a good online calculator here: https://www.omnicalculator.com/math/cylinder-volume

But we will save you the trouble and give you some rough ideas. A pot that is about 13 inches across (diameter) and down (height) will hold about 1 cubic foot of dirt. A pot that is about 16 inches across and down holds almost 2 cubic feet of dirt, and a pot that is 19 inches across holds about 3 cubic feet. A 7-gallon bucket holds about 1 cubic foot of dirt.

If space is an issue, you can try growing tomatoes vertically and upside down, a complete treatment of which is beyond the scope of this article. That is trendy right now. Just one note of caution: if you try that, make sure whatever your plants are hanging from can withstand the weight of the bag, plant, dirt, water, and fruit!

A note about determinate versus indeterminate:

Determinate varieties of tomatoes have all their fruit at one time and then the plant is finished fruiting for the year. These varieties are preferred by those who preserve and can their produce. Indeterminate varieties produce tomatoes again and again all season long until the season is over. These varieties are preferred by those who just want to pick a tomato and slice it for dinner.

Assuming that your patio is free of deer, who will eat your plants, if you have sun and enough dirt, then water your plants as often as needed—perhaps daily when it’s hot—and fertilize generously. Watering means to water until water runs out the bottom. Also use pots that have drainage holes in the bottom.

One way to manage fertilizer is to dilute fertilizer to half-strength and fertilize every time you water. Avoid getting water on the leaves if possible, and don’t have your plants too close together. Let them get some air circulation.

Don’t forget to get ready to stake your plants before they need it. If you wait until your plant is a monster, it is much more difficult to add a cage over top.

Will music help your plants grow? This is currently being researched and hotly debated. Maybe. Maybe not. You can always try a little Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor. What have you got to lose?

Happy growing from all of us at Art Knapp in Surrey.

Art Knapp has 15 locations across British Columbia and is well known as the go-to garden centre for everything garden-related. Art Knapp, himself, began the business in the 1940's, and now, 80 years later, you can find more than he ever dreamed of in our stores. Come and see us on King George Boulevard in Surrey.

If you have any questions about this article or want to talk to us about gardening, just give us a call at (604) 596-9201.

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