Sunday, 17 May 2009

The Variation of Tomato Plants Under Different Windowsill Pots

In 1868, Charles Darwin published a book entitled ‘The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication’. 141 years later and I’m publishing a blog entry entitled ‘The Variation of Tomato Plants Under Different Windowsill Pots’. I may not be an internationally-renowned naturalist (and I may not have an impressive Darwinian beard), but I have been monitoring the progress of my tomato plants with an impassioned eye that Mr Darwin would surely be proud of.

If you root around in my early blog entries from April, you’ll see that I planted my tomato plants from seed, in a few different seed trays. Since then, I’ve re-potted the majority of these plants into pots, typically one to a pot.

However, I’ve also left one seed tray intact to this day and also planted some instances of 2-3 tomato plants to a pot. I lined the plants up for the photo at the top of this gardening blog entry (they look suspiciously like a tomato identity parade!) and found some interesting results.

Expectedly, the tomato plants that have fared the best are the plants that have been planted one to a pot – illustrated here by the plant on the far right. The leaves are clear, defined and several branches are forming. The tomato plants that have spent their entire six-week life in the seed tray have also fared extremely well – interesting, considering they only have approximately an inch of soil to grow in and their roots must be all fighting for the same small space.

The tomato plants that are faring the worst however (although still growing) are the 2-3 to a pot examples. They have remained very small – roughly half the size of their fruity friends – and don’t seem to be growing very fast at all. It’s interesting, considering that these plants have more compost and room per plant than the ones in the seed trays, yet the latter have continued to fare significantly better.

I’m not sure what all this means from a botanical or a horticultural point of view (shame Charles Darwin isn’t at hand to ask), but what I will say for all amateur gardeners looking to grow tomato plants or vegetables in London or big cities, is that the best results (so far) come from planting a tomato plant in its own individual pot. Now to transport them into grow bags…


  1. I also have only a small balcony and am hoping to grow some veggies there, so thanks for the advice! (:

  2. Hi Shelly - I just hope the advice is useful! I'm no gardening guru, but hopefully I can point out pitfalls to avoid for budding balcony gardeners!

  3. Callum: interesting experiment. But experimental groups are very small...

  4. Hi Julius,

    I'm well aware that as far as experiments go, this is indeed, far too small a group; rather than trying to offer any real insight, I thought I'd simply comment on the occurances I'm seeing with my tomatoes. The Darwinian references are purely tongue-in-cheek!



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