One of the easiest and most attractive ways of growing this delicious and versatile crop is in hanging baskets and with modern hybrid cherry tomatoes, you will be amazed at just how many small, sweet fruit you can harvest from such a small space.
Producing heavy crops does, however, require plenty of food and water and so it is important to choose a larger basket – 45cm (18in) diameter is ideal – so that it will hold a reasonable volume of compost for the hungry roots. You will also need a good compost and it is also a good idea to add a controlled release fertiliser to this prior to planting up or to push some fertiliser ‘tablets’ into the compost after planting. These should feed your plants for the rest of the season. However, if you prefer to have more control over this aspect, use a liquid tomato feed instead, adding it at half strength every watering once the first truss of fruit has set on your plants.
As with many other fruiting crops, to get the best from them it is important to harvest regularly to ensure the development and ripening of the following fruits, but with care, your hanging basket should provide you with fruit from late June/July to the end of September.
ITEMS AND SUPPLIES
- A hanging basket – the bigger the better, but about 45cm diameter one is ideal. This can be a solid plastic basket or open-wire type. If using the latter you will need something to line it with such as moss or moss substitute or a paper or fibre liner. If you are often away from home a self-watering basket (one with a built-in reservoir) might be a good option.
- A good, fresh multi-purpose or potting compost is ideal. Prevent loam-based combinations like John Innes as these are not too light for a big basket.
- Managed-release fertiliser or great liquid tomato food.
- Water-retaining gel – this is optional, but again a good idea for those who struggle to find the time to give their basket enough water during the summer.
- Tomato plants. You can grow these yourself or buy them from your local garden centre or a young plant specialist. View our ‘Finest for some of our favourite basket varieties for baskets’ panel opposite.
- A strong bracket to hang the basket from, preferably near the house to make it easy to pop out to pick a few fruit.
WHEN TO GROW
If sowing your own seeds, this can be done from January to March. If you intend to grow your basket outside, March is ideal as plants are not frost hardy and can’t be moved outdoors until June in most parts of the country, so you don’t want to sow too early. If buying plants and you have somewhere frost free to keep them, then pick them up in April. If not, then buy them in May/June and plant up your baskets straight away.
WATCH OUT FOR
Never allow your plants to wilt as this will check their growth and may lead to reduced cropping. Yellow leaves may indicate that additional feeding is required. Whitefly can be a nuisance in summer, but can be tolerated.
PLANTING A TOMATO BASKET
- Remove the chain and stand your basket on a large pot to help hold it steady. Line the basket using the material of your choice. We have used moss.
- If using an open wire basket place a plant saucer or piece of polythene in the base. This will slow the flow of water through the compost a little. Fill about three-quarters full with compost.
- Put in your plants. In a 45cm (18in) basket you will need three plants. In a 30cm (12in) basket you will only really need one plant.
- Water thoroughly. You are able to do this with a watering can or, if using an open wire basket, by standing the basket -filled bucket until the surface of the compost is soaked.
Have question about planting a tomato basket – see answer here.