May 2013

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How much sunlight do your tomato plants get every day? After some drastic pruning, our backyard now gets more sun in some spots, but we don't have full sun anywhere. I'm wondering if it's possible and worthwhile to try some tomatoes this year.

H. Mark Delman

Hi Dawn:

Tomatoes are everyones favorite, but they do require alot of sun -- 6 hours is a bare minimum, 8-11 hours is great. Watch your garden during the day and see how much sun you get. One thing to consider is that, as we get deeper into the summer, the position of the sun changes -- gets higher over the horizon, so what may be borderline today, might actually be much better in a few weeks. It really depends on the position of your garden and the position of trees that shade it. If you are on the borderline, I would just go for it. Plant a few tomatoes and see what happens. If you dont have enough sun for tomatoes, consider plants that have lower light requirements - lettuces, chard, cabbage, broccoli, radishes, beets all can get buy with 5


Interesting that you posted this today, as I spent the morning doing a little internet research on growing vegetables in containers. What type of soil would you recommend? Different internet sites I visited recommended various ratios of compost, peat moss, perlite and sand. The ground here is red clay so I have raised beds and would like to grow tomatoes and peppers in containers. My plan was to use 5 gallon buckets (since I already have a lot of them) with holes drilled about 4-6 inches from the bottom.

Mark Delman

Hi Sasha:
The key is to have soil that drains well. That's why people are recommending creating mixes with things like perlite. If you use "potting soil" it's going to work well in containers. I generally add some compost to this as well. My assumption is that you are going to fill your containers with new soil and not use the red clay from your garden as the base.


Thanks for the info. about Autopots. I've haven't had much luck with Topsy-Turvy type planters and overall, do most of my gardening in raised beds. However, I have been looking for some container options -- your overview of various containers is really helpful.

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