size of tomato pot

Dear Experts,
I just planted my tomatos! Here is SF bay area. I bought a growing kit which contains a 6" bucket, potting soil and a small bag of seed. Following the instruction, I put 10 seeds about 1/4" below the top soil and water thoroughly. I'm anxiously waiting for the green! After it grows taller, I'll buy a type of "backing scaffold" for its vein.
But one day when I was chatting with my coworker at lunch. He said tomato needs a big pot! Is it true? The instruction didn't say I need to change to a bigger pot and it promised 200+ tomatos!
So my question is whether I'm OK with the current 6" pot or should I replant later? and when? after 1 year?
Thanks!
Tiffany
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No, the 6 inch "bucket" is WAY too small. I grow my container tomatoes in 10 gallon containers.
You can keep what you have in the 6 incher until it gets to a certain height, about 4 to 6 inches. 10 seeds is WAY too many, as you'll be thinning to only one plant. I usually only plant 3-4 seeds in each container.
It will take a lot less than one year, BTW. Tomato plants have a life span of at most 4 to 6 months, maybe slightly more in your climate. Just to give you an idea, I start seedlings indoors in early April, transplant them outside in early June, and they last til early October.
Craig Meredith, NH USA
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In article
snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com says...

I don't claim to be an expert, but I have been doing tomatoes this past spring and summer. I started by buying small plants in small pots. I plan on trying seeds next season.

Do you mean 6 inch diameter?

A common thing is to take three stakes (I use plastic- covered bamboo), tied at the top as a tripod, along with horizontal string tied as the plant grows to keep it close in, and generally going up. If you don't give them some guidance, they tend to start wandering sideways and taking up lots of space.
I'm not sure what you mean by, "backing scaffold." Perhaps also called a "trellis"? Like a rectangular thing with wood strips in an "x"-pattern?

My tomato plants are in 20-litre buckets, which is about five gallons. This seems to be a size. Although I have heard of some people using smaller buckets.

If you are starting with a 6-inch pot, then, you DO need bigger pots. Although I'm not sure how big each plant should be before you move them.

That might be very optimistic. If this is you first year, I suggest focusing on just learning. That is what I have been doing.
And, regardless of the results with this particular effort, rememberer that persistence is good. I have had a few containers with very weak plants, which even totally died. But I kept working at it. And that why I have had a bunch of successful items - persistence and optimism.
By the way, a couple of basics...
If you use cheap buckets (like I do), make sure that you drill or punch several holes in the bottom, so that the water can drain out. Tomatoes do *not* like to stand in too much water.
Sunlight is vital. Put them in your sunniest spot.
Good Luck!
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Thanks a lot for all your encouragement. Looks like I do have to pot on to a muuuuch bigger pot. The 10 seeds are currently in the 6" diameter pot. I put it by the southeast facing kitchen window and anxiously waiting for its sprouts. oh, sounds like I have to keep only the strongest one in the pot eventually. Do you just discard the other ones or pot them somewhere else? Just a little hesitate to "kill". :-P
Yeah, this is my first year of gardening. And poor me, I don't have any ground space, only have a balcony facing northwest. After I pot the tomato to a bigger pot, I have to put it to the balcony. I'd be very happy if I can get 2 tomatoes. :-) Finger crossed!
Thanks again, Tiff
says...

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Do you have any idea what cultivar you have. In any event you will need to transplant your healthiest seedlings to larger pots. How large depends on whether you have a miniature plant, a small plant (The cultivar "Patio" for example), a medium plant like "Celebrity" or a full size plant. The small category are prolific bearers for the size of the plant, so if your current tomatoes don't pan out look to the small type cultivars next, They are very good for containers.
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Frank wrote:

You'll be the envy of your whole apartment.
As for the sprouts, I eat them.
Andrew
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Ew!!! :-P
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Frank wrote:

Normally you sow all your tomato seeds into a pot or box or whatever and keep them warm (25C). As soon as they get their fist 'real pair of leaves you take the healthies ones and plant them into new pots, about 10-15cm diameter. Plant them deeper than they were before. Give them much light. After two or three days you could keep them cooler (about 15-16C) with much much light, they would flower earlier. If you can only keep them at home between 20-25C, no problem, they will just flower one or two weeks later. Here where I live, we can plant our tomatoes outdoors mid-may, when there will be no late frost anymore. We plant them deeper again, they will get more roots then. You can plant them in a 10 liter pot or bucket. Did I mention that tomatoes need lots of light...? Don't give them a fertilizer with too much nitrogen, they will grow too vigorously, but won't set more fruits. Use a fertilzer with more potassium than nitrogen. Professionels grow them without soil at all, just fertilizer solution. But they have to take great care about the solution, hobbyists can't afford this kind of analytics.
There are several hundred kind of tomatoes: 'normal' red ones, yellow ones, almost black ones, tomatoes with stripes, pearshaped tomatoes, eggshaped tomatoes, one pounders, two pounders, cherry-sized tomatoes...
If you have one of the cherry-sized cultivars, 200 tomatoes might be possible, if there's enough sun for the plant. Tomatoes don't like too much moisture, but don't let them dry up completely too often.
Use Google, there should be plenty of advice concerning tomatoes.
Bye, Robert
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About the only tomato that will grow to maturity is a 6'' pot is the cultivar "Tiny Tim". Normal sized tomato plants will need a minimum of a five gallon pot per plant. Some of the larger plants like Brandywine need an even larger pot.
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Do you know what the name of the tomato is? 200 tomatoes sounds like a cherry or grape style plant.

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I checked the seed pack and found it's called "Tomato Beefsteak". Strange name. Is it reasonable to expect 200+ tomatos this year? Can I stay with the current 6" pot or have to change after sprout?
Thanks a lot, Tiff

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Agreed: whether it is a generic beefsteak type or the old Scarlet Ponderosa that was sold as Beefsteak for many years, The plants are large. The tomatoes are also large, and tend to produce sparsely in a container setting. However two or three dozen tomatoes per plant is a very good yield under good conditions.
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Frank wrote:

I've been growing tomatoes in pots for years. My pots are 70" around & 2' tall. Tomatoes have big root systems. Make sure your tomatoes can drain thoroughly. They hate wet feet.
Mintee
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I concur. Growing Beefsteak tomatoes in a pot of any kind is going to be marginal at best. I have had decent success using 15-20 gallon nursery planters (the kind they ship small trees in) filled with a good potting mix but I was growing smaller varieties. You MUST have really good drainage or you will wind up with blossom end rot. The tricky part about smaller containers, at least here where the summers get very hot, is watering. I can water a plant in a 5 gallon bucket profusely in the morning, go to work on a 95 degree day and the plant will be dying of thirst by that afternoon. If you really don't want to dig and do want to grow larger varieties, you might consider bag culture. Just do a search for it on Google. I have never tried it but I know a few people who have had good results.
Lee Hall Zone 6B - Tennessee
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snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net (Lee Hall) wrote:

Have you tried mulching to keep them from drying out so quickly?
K.
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il 6 Mar 2004 20:21:46 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net (Lee Hall) ha scritto:
[snip]

I saw the other day a tv show where the gardener put two sacks of tomato potting mix on top of each other, lying down,.(cutting out the plastic where the two touched - altho I'm a bit vague on how he stopped the mix falling out of the second one) Anyway the idea was one cut a small square in the top surface and put the potted tomato on the top of the bag, without removing it. Then it could grow it's 8 feet roots with no trouble. And not to forget drain holes.
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