Should I move my potted vegetable plants to catch the morning sun?
May 16, 2012 6:16 AM   Subscribe

I have a cherry tomato plant and a few pepper plants (scotch bonnets and jalapenos) in pots in a window that faces due west - they get bright shade until about 3 pm, and then hot, direct sun until about 6:30 pm. Should I move them to the front garden (facing south) in the mornings?

They seem healthy and happy - the tomato is starting to set flower buds and the peppers are growing like crazy. I'm home all day, so should I carry them out front to catch the morning and early afternoon sun, or is it better to leave them alone? Here's a blurry picture!

Bonus question - will a good, regular tomato fertiliser make up for slightly-too-small pots?
posted by cilantro to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
Sorry, meant that the front garden faces due east, not south, and most of it gets bright sun all morning. The front windowsills are always in shade, though, due to a tree close to the house, so they're not an option.
posted by cilantro at 6:19 AM on May 16, 2012

Like you, I'm in the UK. I grew jalapenos and padrons outdoors last year, after several years of confining them to the greenhouse. Mine are currently on a south-facing windowsill, so I have no problem with light, but I plan to start hardening them off by putting the pots outside when the weather feels like being reasonable. Then, when they're a foot or so high, I'll plant some of them out in a raised bed.

A few hours facing south outdoors in the morning should result in bushier plants and faster growth, so that's what I'd probably do. The plants will gradually get used to it and you'll eventually just be able to leave them outside. Avoid watering the leaves, as this will lead to scorching.

Small pots have one advantage - they can lead to better flowering. With peppers you may well find that you get a lot more flowers (and hence fruit) by not allowing them too much room in the pot. It's easy enough to check though - when the compost/soil is dryish, remove the pot and check the roots. If you're getting to a point where you can't see much of the soil through the roots, it's definitely time to pot them up to the next size of pot. With cherry tomatoes, we generally just plant two in a big pot about a foot across, although I'm going to try some in a raised bed too this year.
posted by pipeski at 6:44 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes. Move them. Tomatos need 7 hours of direct sun to properly set tomatos.
posted by LittleMy at 8:45 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Bonus question - will a good, regular tomato fertiliser make up for slightly-too-small pots?

I'm having a hard time conceiving of how this would be the case- too small pots mean extra watering is required and roots are cramped, neither of which is helped by fertilizer. If there's no longer nutrition in the soil then it can help, but if they are in pots you stand a very good chance of causing salt burn from overfertilizing. If your tomatoes seem to have deficiency symptoms, then go ahead and fertilize, but only at 1/3 to 1/4 of the recommended strength for soil-grown plants. Do not use a high-nitrogen fertilizer under any circumstances, because you do not want to encourage fast, leafy green growth. You want your tomatoes to not be even more challenged by being in too-small pots, and you also don't want to create a calcium deficiency due to a canopy that cannot be supported by the roots (this is the cause of most calcium deficiency symptoms in most home-grown tomatoes, due to the way calcium moves through and is distributed in the plants).

As far as putting them outside, yes. However if the nighttime temps are below 55 degrees F, don't be surprised if all the flowers fall off.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:59 AM on May 16, 2012

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