Urban Gardening: Growing Tomatoes (Part 3)

For your reference, here is a list of entries under the Urban Gardening series:

Alas, my tomato plants have died. :(

At first I thought that the leaves were drying up due to insufficient watering...
...but even when I watered the plants everyday the wilting won't stop...
...I eventually decided to sacrifice my plants
so I can use the space for more hardy plant varieties.

Lessons Learned:

  • Know your seeds. I think, my main mistake was that I attempted to propagate a tomato plant from the seeds of a store-brought tomato. Yes, those seeds will sprout and the plant will grow, but chances are that tomato variety was bred for harvesting, and not for breeding. Safe bet: Buy seed packets and use them for planting.
  • Give your tomatoes room to grow. Even if you are planting a determinate (i.e. container) variety (vs. the indeterminate i.e. vine variety), tomato roots plant deep and wide. This was what I discovered while I was cleaning up the dead roots from my container. It was my mistake to try to cram up four plants in one pot. One tomato plant per 5-gallon container is the ideal.
  • Stake early. Putting a stake beside the plant as it is growing, even if you haven't tied them together, is safer than driving a stake down an almost mature plant as you might risk damaging the root
  • Prune as necessary. If you neglect the suckers forming on corner of your plant's stems, they may grow into another "main" stem, which will take some energy away from the original main stem. At the height of maturity, my tomato plants looked really bushy and disheveled because all the suckers I ignored.
  • Consider manually pollinating the flowers if yours won't. My tomato plant bloomed a LOT of flowers, but none of them got pollinated into fruition. I've read that tomato flowers require a specific temperature window for it to pollinate, and if not, the gardener can manually shake the flowers to distribute the pollen. I haven't tried it, but I think I should have.

I don't know if I will be planting tomatoes again in the future. As it turned out, they were a bit high maintenance, much more than I expected. I've still got some herbs growing in my garden, maybe for now I'll stick to that.