Growing Heirloom Tomato Plants in Your Town Home

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Growing Heirloom Tomato Plants in Your Town Home

Staff Writer · Sep 14, 2010

The process of growing heirloom tomato plants includes some general practices that will help deliver a healthier final result. Heirloom tomato plants can be a bit more sensitive than some other varieties, but they also produce large, juicy tomatoes.

Your Town Home Space

In town home designs, most private outdoor spaces consist of an enclosed patio, or a terrace or balcony on higher levels. There’s generally not a lot of room, but a town home patio or terrace space can be an okay venue for tomatoes, as long as they are properly supported. Tomatoes grow vertically, making them a good candidate for small footage spaces.

Germinating Seeds

For those who buy heirloom seeds, each gardener has their own method for helping them to sprout. Many use peat moss, a moist paper towel, or a similar damp material to nurture the seeds until they are ready to be planted.

When the gardener plants the seeds in a town home space, they will most likely be using a plastic or ceramic planter, or a box filled with soil. Some experts recommend large, deep planters for heirloom tomato plants.

Helping Heirloom Tomatoes Grow

Tomatoes need a lot of support in general, and heirlooms will need even more. Their large fruit can cause the plant to succumb to the forces of gravity unless it is carefully propped up by wire, stakes, string or some other kind of support. Some gardeners who have a smaller space might prefer varieties like cherry or grape tomatoes that are a little more naturally buoyant, but heirloom plants will be fine with a little help from a trellis or other structure. Growers may need to update their support systems frequently to be sure the plant has adequate assistance. Some gardeners suggest using string to support plants, while others prefer a conventional stake system where a tomato plant clings to a central pole to grow vertically.

Conditions for Heirlooms

Some growers recommend keeping heirloom plants in the shade for the first few days in order to keep them from being scorched on hotter days. These plants may also sometimes need to be taken in at night. Watering is essential. Not enough, and the plant will wither and die. Too much will decrease output. It’s important to keep an eye on how watering is affecting the plant in order to change irrigation levels as necessary. Gardeners also have to think about pest control. Depending on local conditions, beetles, hornworms or other pests can attack your tomatoes. In a small garden in a private town home space, it should be relatively easy to give a little attention to each plant on a regular basis.

There’s a lot more involved in detailed maintenance of these special plants, but it will all pay off when the heirloom tomatoes ripen on the vine. When it comes to producing giant, succulent tomatoes, heirlooms beat most other varieties flat out. When to pick these flavor-packed fruits off of the vine is up to the individual grower and their ideas of tomato cuisine. With a little care, a small tomato garden can really improve the dinner plate of a family living in a town home or apartment. Gardening is not just for country folks anymore—try your hand at some simple vertical gardening designs and get to know more about how to grow your own food anywhere.

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