Help Me Grow Better Potted Tomatoes in NYC

“I like to grow tomatoes on my steps in Brooklyn, NY. I believe I can do better and get a better product by having guidance.” Question from Chante or Brooklyn, New York

Answer: The plant in your photo looks quite healthy! As long as you have a spot with at least 8 hours of sunlight, you can grow great tomatoes. Here are five steps to growing strong, vigorous tomatoes in containers:

Chante’s Tomato
  1. Start with great tomatoes. The best for patio or urban step gardens should be compact, heavy producers with great flavor. I suggest trying the new, red-fruited  ‘Tidy Treats’ dwarf cherry tomato, the golden-fruited sauce tomato ‘Sunrise Sauce’, and the delicious red slicer ‘Mountain Fresh Plus’. All of these tomatoes are compact and perfect for container growing. (If you want to try growing your own tomatoes from seed, click here to learn more.)
  2. Plant in large containers. Tomatoes develop vast root systems and require a lot of fertilizer and water for good growth, so planting them in large containers is smart. Big pots hold more water and ensure roots will spread for better overall growth and higher tomato yields. (Be sure to provide extra water on hot summer days.)
  3. Choose a really good potting soil that is OMRI Listed for organic gardening. I suggest Black Gold Waterhold Cocoblend Potting Mix for urban tomato growing. It holds extra water, which is a good thing in harsh urban areas.
  4. Provide fertilizer formulated for tomatoes. Tomatoes will grow and produce best if provided a quality tomato fertilizer at the start of the season.
  5. Cage your tomatoes. Even more compact potted tomatoes grow better and are easier to harvest if caged.

For an easy tutorial, I also recommend you watch our video below about growing tomatoes in containers.

Happy tomato growing!

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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