All You Need to Know about Growing Tomatoes Indoors
When summer ends and the gardens die down, it’s time to grow tomato indoors. Store bought tomatoes don’t taste as good as our home grown ones and let’s admit – its fun growing your own tomatoes! It can be done – all you need to do is simulate the outdoor growing conditions with light, temperature and humidity to successfully grow your winter tomatoes. Nevertheless, tomatoes grown indoors are likely to be smaller than those grown outside – but there’s no compromise in its taste, nutrients and flavor.
1. Decide where you will grow your tomatoes. Is it the window sill, your heated garage or basement? Remember you need to simulate the temperature and light of the outdoors.
2. Buy a grow light (even if you intend to grow it on the window sill – as there is still insufficient hours of daylight)
3. Choose a warm place – a heated basement or garage as tomatoes, just like other vegetables need a temperature of 70F and 10GF degrees lower at night.
4. Decide if you are growing from seeds or seedlings and choose the variety of tomato you want to grow. Begin with a variety that grows a compact plant: look for tomato seeds that say patio or container in their descriptions.
5. If you decide to grow from seeds, germinate seeds in a small pot with starter mix in peat pots because they can be transplanted without disturbing the roots. Seeds need to be planted in a potting mix (approximately 1/4 inch deep). It should start sprouting in about 5 - 10 days.
6. Keep your grow lights on for about 12 – 14 hours a day. The lights should be about an inch from the top of the plant. Your light needs to be close to generate the heat for germination. As your seeds germinate and the seedlings start to grow taller simply move the growing light higher to accommodate the growth in the seedlings.
7. Transplant from starter mix into potting soil when seedlings are about 3 inches tall. A five gallon pot should be the minimum but bigger is better. Carefully transplant the seedlings into the larger pot after filling it with soil. Fertilize regularly, but lightly with any all-purpose fertilizer.
8. Water plants thoroughly, but not too frequently. Be careful not to over water as too much water is as bad as too little. Check the soil for moisture before watering to ensure that you water only when necessary.
9. Once the flowers start blooming, you will need to help Mother Nature along to pollinate the flowers as you won’t have bees swarming around your plants. Tap the main stem and larger side branches with your finger. This moves the plant slightly and encourages pollination. This should be sufficient to do the job and if you do it once a week you should be producing plenty of flowers to bear fruit.
10. Turn the plants occasionally so that all areas of the plant get a fair share of sunlight.
11. As your plant grows, you need to provide it some support in the form of a stake or a small trellis and attach the stems to them. You will need to occasionally rearrange the support areas as the plant grows.
12. Now – the tomatoes are red all over – are they ready to pick? Lightly squeeze the fruit and if the skin is not rock hard, it should be ready. Eat and enjoy!
You don’t have to have a green thumb to plant tomatoes. Just follow these instructions and you will have great tomatoes even in winter!