Growing Heirloom Tomatoes in container


I am back with a new post after many months, the delay is caused by the hectic schedule topped up with laziness to write, though the activities at the garden did not suffer .

I would like to thanks GeekGardener, again as without his support I couldn’t have ventured into the wonderful world of growing heirloom tomatoes. It was his blog, from where I learned about heirloom tomatoes and, he was also kind enough to share the seeds with me.

I grew four different verities – Beefsteak, Marmande (France), Rose De Berne (Switzerland) and Gardeners Delight – grown again (England)

The seeds were started on July 17’th, 2010, using cocopeat + perlite and vermiculite mediums.


Ready for transplant



From left – GD, Marmande, Beefsteak and RDB (19/10/2010)

However after this good start things started taking turns, the fruits were first set on RDB but all of them were affected by BER, beefsteak tip got broken, I thought the BER problem would go away after the first set of fruits, however it continued to affect each and every fruit, I did everything to fix the problem – regularized watering, calcium nitrate/ Magnesium sulphate, but nothing happened.

Then I went out for a week, requesting my maid to water the plants every alternate day, it was a hot October month, when I came back I found the plants drooping over each other, even though the maid tied them to whatever she could find appropriate, it also included the handle of a storage shelf in the balcony. New fruits formed  – small, and BER continued,  I was disappointed and started thinking that my growing environment does not suit these varieties. The picture of neatly stalked indeterminate tomatoes was there in my mind, I tried to give them another try, I pruned all the side shoots tied overhead nylon strings in the balcony, and stalked all my plants, the main stem of Marmande had got broken so I removed the plant and prepared RDB and Marmande from cuttings.


From right – RDB (mother plant), RDB (from cutting), Beefsteak, Marmande (from cutting), RDB from cutting and GD. (Jan, 21, 2011)

They grew wildly as evident from the picture below.


(Feb, 12, 2011)












By this time the old RDB had started setting fruits, fruits were bigger and free from BER.Smile

gd6 GD3
GD2 gd5

Gardeners delight did excellent in the second season as well. This variety will never disappoint you, it is still fruiting till date since Oct.’, 10, producing a few cherries every day. The plant has grown around 18 ft.

Now, I would like to tell you about an interesting observation from the container media experiment, as I have told you earlier that I had grown a RDB from cutting, so while doing the final transplant I just used coco peat and perlite as the media, fed it with soluble fertilizer and the plant became one of the best producing tomato plants for me. Have a look:


They are really fleshy, If they are fully ripen on vine they taste sweet, otherwise a bit sour, I had never tested such delicious tomatoes. Unfortunately they are not easily found in India,  so you will have to grow them to enjoy the taste.


These are the slices of the 168gm Rose de Berne above.



These are the beefsteak tomatoes.


This is Marmande is grown from cutting, and is younger than the above plants.

hv1 hv2
hv3 hv5

These are some of the harvests. The vines are still fruiting, the production rate has come down due to the heat though.

One more observation about these plants, is the pest attack is almost none, it may be due to the fact that the parts of these plants like leaves and stem, smell stronger and peculiar compared to other tomato verities.

It was a great gardening experience, and the harvest was satisfactory for the amount of sunlight I get (4-5 hrs.) in my balcony. I would rate Rose de Berne as a best in terms of yield and taste.

Thanks for reading. Happy Gardening.

-Fun Gardener


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42 Responses to “Growing Heirloom Tomatoes in container”

  1. Geekgardener Says:

    You made my day! Awesome yield from an excellent grower. Kudos to you FG.

    The plants look healthy and look at the yield you have got.. Really wonderful. I removed most of the plants in my garden due to a spider mite attack. So the sight of yielding heirloom is a treat to me. Thanks

    Do share your feeding pattern.

    I am so much inspired by your post.

    Keep writing.

  2. fungardener Says:

    Thanks a lot GG,
    Your appreciation made my day!

    How old were your plants? What all tomatoes you are growing as of now?

    The feeding pattern was :
    20-10-10 till the first flowers.
    13-40-13 till the fruits appear
    finally 5-15-30
    19-19-19 to give a boost if the plant does not seem healthy.
    Calcium Nitrate, Magnesium Sulphate, and Micro Nutrients in regular intervals

  3. Says:

    Excellent.All good varities in ur balcony.

  4. fungardener Says:

    Thanks a lot,
    There are 7500 varieties of tomatoes. and they all are interesting in some way or the other, however you are right, its a great experience to grow varieties as old as 200 years.
    Happy Gardening

  5. Pankaj Says:

    Hello Fungardener,

    Nice Work, keep it up. Your blogs are inspiration for new Garderner.


  6. fungardener Says:

    Thanks Pankaj,
    Please do post / upload about your gardening activities. We are the inspiration for each other.

  7. Suniil Says:

    hey nice to see ur posts again…..
    i am also trying to grow some veggies now…

    i hope they turn out good like urs…

  8. Says:

    u grow beautiful varieties of tomatoes…I am not able to get heirloom and cherry varieties from any where in bhopal. When fruits come then we know about it.

  9. fungardener Says:

    You could buy seeds online, here are few sites:

    Annadana has a huge catalogue of heirloom seeds.

    Happy Gardening

  10. Ajay Says:

    Dear FG,
    I am very interested in terrace gardening. just planted seeds of tomoto. the seeds germinted as well. but after about 15 days all the plants died before their true leaves were out. pls advice if i need to use any chemical or any fertilizer before getting them transplanted to some other container.

    Thanks in advance.

  11. fungardener Says:

    Hello Ajay,

    There could be many reasons:
    1. Too much / too less water.
    2. Fungus present in the media, which could cause the stem rot.
    3. I have sometimes seen the stem cut below the first set of leaves, I an not sure that is done be some pest / fly / bird.

    What was the media used? If you could post a pic. of the seedling, may be I could point to the cause.
    Also it is better to sow double the seeds than the number of plants you need.

  12. Ajay Says:

    Hi FG,
    Thanks for your reply.
    Too much water could be the reason. Yes the stem had rotten.
    I had used red soil and vermicompost mix in the ration of 1:1.
    I have again sowed the seeds and yesterday they have germinated.
    I wanted to take precaution now that these plants dont die.
    Also I had sowed more seeds than i want.

    Pls advice

  13. Ajay Says:

    Also please tell me for transplanting the plants,do i need to transplant only after their true leaves are out or can i transplant when they are 15-21 days old.

  14. fungardener Says:

    The first transplant should take place after the first set of true leaves appear , this is when the sapling is big enough to handle, this happens around a month after the sowing (though depends on climate and other factors.)
    – make sure that you have started the weak NPK fertilization (19-19-19,1gm/lit)before you do the first transplant, this should atleast be done once before the transplant.

    The second and the final transplant is done once the plant is around 6” (some ppl say that it should be done after the first tiny bud is visible, however could be done before that also) this stage come around a month after the first transplant.

  15. Ajay Says:

    Thanks again for replying.So much information and knowledge u have about gardening.
    Request you to please answer my earlier question

  16. suja Says:

    Hi FG,

    I have recently moved to pune frm bangalore and I saw ur post reg. vegetable gardening…i am a biginner and want some ready made grown vegatable pots…where do i get them in pune..looking forward to hear from you..

  17. fungardener Says:

    Hi suja,
    Sorry for replying late, if I understand your question correctly, you are looking for pots right? for veg. growing you dont need to buy the specific pots available in garden centers, I have found using the empty oil containers, styrofoam boxes, empty paint buckets, plastic tubs to be more useful.
    But any way if you want to buy ready made, there are a lot of gardent centers in Pune, I have written about them in the blog posts / comments, if you want to know about any specific area, let me know, you could send me a PM if you want

  18. Veena Says:

    Hi FG,

    Why there is no new blog posts? You inspire many beginners like me. Please do update with ur stories.

    • fungardener Says:

      Hi Veena,

      Thanks for the nice words, due to some recent developments, gardening has taken the back seat, although I have a few stories to write, I will post as soon as I find some time.

  19. Rains Says:


    I am new to Kitchen gardeninig.

    I would like to grow tomatoes. Is this a good start.

    I have a balcony area where I can grow and which is bright throughtout the day and receives 1-2 hrs of sunlight. Is that enough?

    Also, you mentioned that you used cocopeat + perlite and vermiculite mediums. What is the ratio for that.

    Also, in one of your replies to GeekGardener, you mentioned that
    The feeding pattern was :
    20-10-10 till the first flowers.
    13-40-13 till the fruits appear
    finally 5-15-30
    19-19-19 to give a boost if the plant does not seem healthy.
    Calcium Nitrate, Magnesium Sulphate, and Micro Nutrients in regular intervals

    I am not able to understand this.. what is 20-10-10 ??

    Also where will we get all this calcium nitrate, Magnesium Sulphate, and Micro Nutrients.

    Thank you,

    • fungardener Says:

      1-2 hours sunlight is not enough, however you could still give it a try. You could start with a determinate verity and see how it responds.
      I would recommend to use coco peat + vermicompost + perlite in 40 + 40 + 20 ratio, if you cant get hold of perlite, dont worry, skip it.
      These numbers represents N-P-K (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium)

      I could tell you where to get them, if you let me know the city in which you are looking for them.

      Happy Gardening,

      • Rains Says:

        Thanks for your prompt reply.
        I am from mumbai. (Thane or mumbai both are ok with me).

        Can I use the seeds of normal tomatoes which we get here?


  20. Rains Says:


    I want to make potting mix.
    I have Red Coil, Cow Manure, Cocopeat and also bought compost manure fromm shop.
    However I do not have Perlite or vermiculite.
    How can I make potting mix and in which ratio.

    Thanking you.

    • Abhishek Says:

      Dear Rains,
      You don’t need Perlite or Vermiculite. You can use equal quantity of Cocopeat and Vermicompost to prepare the potting mix. Keep adding manure later on at regular interval and water plants regularly.

      You can also add Soil + Cocopeat + Compost in 1 : 1 : 2 ratio.
      Else if you can use alone cocopeat + compost in 1 : 1 ratio..

      Vermiculite is a better option than Perlite (per experiments by individuals and no real lab testing).

      Vermiculite is sold un-necessarily expensive in commercial market (of horticulture to retail customers). Perlite too is expensive.

      There are many grades of vermiculite. One for agriculture will be -4 to 25. Fine or super fine can be used too ..but it is too fine and does not serve the real purpose of this product. This fine and super fine can be used for crops such as carrots / beet roots / radishes as the soil should be more soft for the roots to grow even. Else distorted roots might appear. You can use agriculture grade for other vegetables and flowering plants. You can use fine grade for seedling stage of any plant.

      During seedling or sprouting stage the mix doesn’t require much manure but post transplanting the soil or potting mix requires good nutrients for the plant to grow.

      Cocopeat buy directly brick (compressed) + add water as directed and then you get cocopeat loose. This is less expensive option. Cocopeat brick is cheaper than the cocopeat loose.

      Vermicompost is better than pure manure for preparing potting mix. Also check different varieties of vermicompost before investing in one. It should be real fine and no lumps (solid / semi-solid) It should be dark. Check the specification of different grades to see the composition of nutrients. And strictly no foul smell.
      If you buy in bulk it is cheap.

      Never use pure manure for potting mix. Like I said before this should be added as dressing to maintain the soil composition.

      You can also use slow nutrient releasing tablets readily available to maintain the soil composition. Just insert one each plant once a month.

      If you use the above composition of soil mix, you probably don’t need manure or tablets for soil for some long time.. for months.

      For flowering plants especially roses during the flowering season add good amount manure to give more nutrients. In this case the sheep/goat manure is considered better for roses.

      In Mumbai visit Namdeo Umanj and Ratanshi @ Byculla (East) just opposite the railway station. Just walk few steps to the right and cross and then take left. Don’t go left after exiting Byculla station. This I am suggesting due to high dividers and 2 huge flyowers on the either side. The shops are right opposite the exit on Byculla East.

      Both these shops keep all agro products from soil to seed.
      Cocopeat Bricks buy from Ratanshi always.

      • Abhishek Says:

        Sorry for the typo there. It is Namdeo Umaji and Ratanshi. 2 Good shops in Mumbai for all agro products.
        Both the shops are closed on Sunday.

        Just to add – Vermicompost check at all nurseries to find the right one for you. They have good stock and sell in Kgs as loose.
        I get 20rs per kg from the Nursery at Powai opposite Powai lake. Near Panchkutir or IIT Main Gate. It is to the left after the Mini Punjab Hotel towards Jogeshwari.

      • Rains Says:

        Hi Abhishek,
        Thank you for giving me such valuable inputs.
        I am very near to Powai. I thought the shop is no longer there. I will just check it out.
        Thank you,

  21. fungardener Says:

    Thanks for responding Abhishek, though I try to keep in sync, with my blog, however the work and schedule takes the better of my time most of the times.

    Happy Gardening

    • Abhishek Says:

      Dear FG, your posts are wonderful and am just starting on vegetable gardening.

      I am happy with reading through your experiments. Keep posting.

      Your tomato plants look a lot happy.

  22. Ekta Tripathi Says:

    Your tomatoes are SO beautiful! I was wondering if you save seeds.. If you do, would you please (pretty please with a tomato on top) share them?
    Kindly let me know.
    Have an amazing day!
    Cheers xx

  23. Austin Says:

    Looks delicious. I will have to try the Rose de berne.

  24. Grow Tomato Mumbai Hotel Hotel With Pool On Balcony Says:

    […] Growing Heirloom Tomatoes in container | Fungardener’s Blog – I would like to grow tomatoes. Is this a good start. I have a balcony area where I can grow and which is bright throughtout the day and receives 1-2 hrs of sunlight. … In Mumbai visit Namdeo Umanj and Ratanshi @ Byculla (East) … […]

  25. Anupam Katti Says:

    Hi FG, This is Anupam Katti, I am interested in Hydroponics, way to grow plants without soil. Can you let me know where you are staying, I would be happy if you can share your experience with me. I have grown some tomato plants with soil, but not tried without soil.

  26. Multiplex Urban Green Says:

    For growing vegetables in your terrace or in small spaces you can use our kit Krushi which has seeds, soild, fertilizer, spray etc to make gardening easy. Please try

  27. sanjay Ramchandra kate Says:

    I need seeds for my farm at uran and my home worli, how i get seeds.
    sanjay kate.

    • fungardener Says:

      Hi Sanjay,

      I do not have much idea about the seed stores in Mumbai, I have bought products from Ratanshi agro Mumbai in the past, and I still use their fertilizer for my roses. You could contact them, they should be able to guide you.


  28. Padma Says:

    Hi. Would like to buy ready made potting soil or mix for container gardening. Intend growing veg and flowers. Any guidance? Brand?

  29. Sharad Kabra Says:

    Like yourself I love greens and am part of the team of a small website called
    Would love to have people like yourself contribute for us. Can we get in touch sometime and exchange ideas?

    I am at 9022316865 – sharad

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