Shh, Secret Potting Mix Formula for Growing Great Tomatoes
How I grew great tomatoes in containers and pots!
I have found a plan for growing great tomatoes in pots!
The potting mix I used in past container gardens was a mixture of a bag of topsoil and a bag of cow manure with some garden calcium mixed in. Even though I had added the calcium, I was constantly fighting blossom end rot! In spite of the problem with the end rot, it was a good year and I made lots of tomato sandwiches !
I am trying to repeat the success of my first container grown tomatoes, but am I changing up the potting mixture to one developed by Classic Gardens and Landscape in Center Point, AL. Their "Tomato program" is famous nation wide! The program has a secret formula, so I cannot give you the exact recipe here. I will tell you as much as I feel comfortable with. If you live in Alabama, you can visit this garden center and purchase the ingredients.
Read about Mike and Ann Pender. He is Classic Gardens and Landscape!
An Alabama Native should know how to grow great tomatoes!
If you need to know exactly what tomato plants I used, please visit My Small Vegetable Garden.
All but one of the Images of tomatoes belong to me unless otherwise stated:
Tomatoes from my garden. Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
NOTE: this page was written a few years ago. I try to update it about one time a year, so some of the product links might not lead you to items that are currently in stock. The information shared, though, is timeless.
Estimated Cost of my Container Tomatoes:
I spent approximately $50 on the ingredients for the potting mixture.
I got my tomato plants from a local supplier. They were under $4 each.
What I used in the pots for growing my tomatoes: - Gardening in pots--easy but do your research!
Mix all the Ingredients listed in the recipe below. Put it in a 10 Gallon Container.
Plant your tomatoes -- usually one or two plants per pot. I am trying two plants. I water daily in the morning being careful not to get moisture on the leaves of the plants. (see my other page Tomato Planting Tips)
Remember, this is formula belongs to Classic Garden and Landscape.
Keeping Tomatoes in the Fridge is a not recommended!
The wooden (monkeypod) leaf shaped bowl in the picture above is from the Philippines. My parents purchased it when we lived there in the 1960s. It is where I keep all my tomatoes after they are picked.
As promised, here is the recipe for the containers:
- 40 lb bag Ultimate Potting Mix not "soil".
- 1 1lb container Fertilome Start-n-grow Premium Plant Food
(I love this product! and I use it on everything I plant in soil!!)
- One 4lb bag Fertilome Tomato and Vegetable Food
Great fertilizer, but it is not organic!
- A Gallon size Baggie of Classic Garden and Landscape secret calcium mixture (It looks like a mixture of fertilizers.) THIS IS THE REALLY SECRET PART! The ingredients in the bag are a mystery! If you do not live in Alabama and cannot talk the good people at Classic Gardens into sending you the secret calcium formula, you might add this fertilizer (click to see my review for it) Dynamite Tomato and Plant Food. Also be sure to use a garden lime additive. Lime (unless the soil is already alkaline), composted manures or bone meal will supply calcium but take time to work so must be applied prior to planting.
I would also recommend Fertilome Ready to Use Yield Spray.
- 1 Soil Moist 3-Ounce Bag.
(or use instructions on the container of Soil Moist)
Mix above 5 ingredients together--thoroughly.
- Plant your tomatoes (see Tomato Planting and Growing Tips) and top with mulch. (I have been known to use grass clippings)
- Use a Blossom-End Rot Control spray. I use a Ferti-lome product, but any blossom end rot spray would probably do the trick. This was recommended by Mr. Pender, as well. As of June 21st, no blossom end rot has occurred.
Creative Containers for growing tomatoes: - 10 Gallon size for growing 2 tomato plants
Remember to drill drainage holes in the bottom of the containers or tubs that you purchase. I like to use coffee filters over the holes to keep the potting mixture from coming out of the containers. You can put an inch of stone in the bottom for drainage, if you like.
I have seen many galvanized tubs used for growing all kinds of plants.
You are allowed to use pretty containers to grow vegetables!
A Pretty alternative to ceramic pots. Remember to drill drainage holes in the bottom of the container.
Blossom End Rot is a problem for container grown tomatoes!
How to Prevent Blossom End Rot! - add calcium to the soil in the container
Lime (calcium) is essential to preventing blossom end rot when growing any vegetable in a container or pot.
This product helps correct the calcium deficiency in your potting mix.
Fertilizing Container Tomatoes:
Mr. Pender recommends applying 1 cup of Fertilome Tomato and Vegetable food per pot after the fourth week. Apply every 7 days.
Water plants before and after applying the fertilizer to minimize burn.
Fresh Food From Small Spaces--I Highly Recommend this book! - An alternative method for growing vegetables in pots
I read this book and it has a lot of great ideas for the small vegetable gardener. It actually disagrees with the method I am using now.
I don't mind, though. I consider this year's crop from pots a "growing" experience. I am learning something new every day about vegetable gardening. I am also being open-minded. After all, I am no expert.
This book shares some great ideas for growing vegetables in the city. There are ideas that people with yards can use, too.
Tomato Gardening Supplies:
Here is a list of products I would recommend that you use for growing tomatoes in pots. I have used the products listed below with great success.
FYI: I get a small commission if you purchase a product from this webpage at Amazon.
Delicious vegetables start with Healthy Plants! Plant the best looking plants you can find.
What I learned about growing tomatoes in pots can be written in FOUR sentences.
#1: Use a highly recommended fertilizer product for producing lots of fruit and beautiful plants.
#2: Spray container vegetables with a blossom end rot formula or make sure there is plenty of calcium in the soil.
#3: If you must grow tomatoes in a pot, buy plants that are labeled "Great in a Container" or "Patio" tomato.
#4: Place containers in sun--plants should get at least 6hrs.
That is about it.
What is your secret?