Miniature Red Tomatoes
(Image credit: Bozena_Fulawka)

Not everyone has room to grow tomato plants, especially large ones. That's why growing mini tomatoes is so great. These not only take up less space since they're well suited to containers, but they're quite tasty. There's a whole lot of flavor packed into these scrumptious mini bites. Let's learn more about growing micro tomatoes.

What is a Mini Tomato?

Mini tomatoes, also called micro tomatoes, are cultivars genetically developed for their compact size. All parts of the plant-- stem, leaves, and fruit-- are smaller than typical garden dwarf varieties. Miniature tomatoes are ideal for growing in a sunny window, apartment balcony, or sunny porch step and growing these little beauties is a great way to introduce children to gardening.

Growing Micro Tomatoes

While there's nothing wrong with growing micro tomatoes in your regular garden bed, they are best suited to container gardening. Almost any container can be used for your garden. Why not let your kids make the choice? Now is a great time to think and talk about recycling. Old Easter baskets, large plastic coffee containers, and pails or buckets of any size are all large enough to house a mini tomato or two. Use your imagination. To estimate how many mini tomato plants to purchase, remember that one mini tomato plant only needs a 4 to 6 inch (10-15 cm.) pot to thrive. Once you've chosen your container, check for drainage and drill holes if necessary. Like their larger relatives, mini tomato plants don't like soggy feet. Adding an inch (2.5 cm.) of gravel or packing peanuts to the bottom will help improve drainage. Fill the pot with the growing medium of your choice. Pre-fertilized container mixes are perfect for growing micro tomatoes, but if you choose unenhanced potting soil or a soilless mixture, you'll have to add a slow release fertilizer or water regularly with a weak solution of the water soluble type. That's all there is to it. You're ready to plant.

Choosing Your Miniature Tomatoes

There are several varieties of miniature tomatoes to choose from. The following are three of the most popular. Micro Tom Tomato- This is the mini tomato that started it all. Bred at the University of Florida, this little fellow grows only 5 to 8 inches (13-20 cm.) tall and bears tasty 1 inch (2.5 cm.) fruit. Micro Tina Tomato- Slightly larger than her brother Tom, Tina produces a true tomato that is the size of a cherry. This mini tomato plant's red fruit is mildly acidic and sweet. Micro Gemma Tomato- A mini tomato plant for color and contrast, Micro Gemma's fruit is golden, full fleshed, and richly flavored.

Kids Growing Micro Tomatoes

Miniature tomatoes are ideal for a child's garden. All they need is regular watering. They yield their fruit in about 75 days, but don't be surprised if you never get to taste it. Once your kids see the fruits of their labors, they'll be eager to get that fresh taste of summer right off the vine!

Jackie Rhoades

Jackie Rhoades began writing for Gardening Know How in 2010.