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RE: Too eager? (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: okiedawn on 12.28.2011 at 03:08 pm in Oklahoma Gardening Forum

You can grow any variety in a large container and I have found (somewhat surprisingly) that plants like Big Boy and Red Ponderosa produce much better (both earlier and huge yields) for me in containers with an early start than when planted in the ground at the recommended planting time. I think that's because the early start helps them beat the heat. Last year those two varieties gave me huge yields in April, May and June and then the heat slowed them down a lot once July arrived.

For small containers, these are my favorites:

For containers as small as 4" pots (though 5" or 6" pots are better): Red Robin, Yellow Canary, Orange Pixie.

For containers the approximate size of hanging baskets: Yellow Tumbling Tom, Red Tumbling Tom, Tumbler, Pear Drops

For 5 gallon or larger containers: Bush Big Boy, Fourth of July (available only from Burpee or Burpee-owned companies like The Cook's Garden), New Big Dwarf, Better Bush, Glacier, Sophie's Choice, Husky Red Cherry, Jaune Flamme, Green Grape, Bush Goliath, Cluster Goliath and Early Goliath. Harris Seeds also has some great determinate hybrids that produce pretty early in containers, including Red Defender and Scarlet Red.

There is only a very limited selection from local retailers of large tomato plants in 5-6" pots in early to mid-February, and the ones I usually see in stores are: Better Bush, Big Boy, Better Boy, Early Girl, Red Beefsteak (aka Red Ponderosa or Crimson Cushion), Husky Red and Husky Red Cherry. Of those, all produce great early for me except Early Girl, which is never early for me no matter what, no matter when, where or how it is planted. For whatever reason, Early Girl was only early for me in one year and it was the year I grew Bush Early Girl. However, Early Girl is a great producer even in August's heat, so I still like to grow it, but I don't rely on it for early tomatoes.

The most reliable early tomato variety that I've ever grown is Fourth of July, whether I plant it in containers extra-early or in the ground in late March or early April. I generally harvest ripe fruit from Fourth of July before Memorial Day, even when it is not put into the ground until early April and there's not many varieties that are reliably that early.

Some of the varieties I listed are available from Willhite. Most of them are available from Tomato Growers Supply Company. The hybrid Goliath varieties are available from Totally Tomatoes, and are different from the heirloom Goliath variety sold at Tomato Growers Supply (it is a late-season O-P variety). Fourth of July is a Burpee exclusive.

Hope this helps.


Suggestions for OK container tomatoes.
clipped on: 01.05.2012 at 10:42 am    last updated on: 01.05.2012 at 10:42 am