How To Grow Tomatoes – Growing tomatoes indoors will allow you to produce fresh, flavorful tomatoes throughout the winter months. Instead of consuming flavorless grocery store tomatoes, you will be able to feast on a fresh, homegrown harvest of tomatoes. Growing indoors is also useful if you live in a multi-unit building and do not have access to an outdoor space for growing vegetables.
1. Select a variety of tomato that grows well indoors. Indeterminate tomato varieties are ideal for indoor gardens. Unlike determinate tomatoes, indeterminate tomatoes will continue to grow and produce fruit all season long. If you are looking for a variety of tomato that will bear a lot of fruit and ripen quickly, choose a plum or cherry indeterminate.
a. Heirloom indeterminates include Pink Ping Pong, Siberia, Silvery Fir Tree, Tommy Toe, and Yellow Pear.
b. Hybrid indeterminates include Micro Tom, Orange Pixie Tomato, Patio, Ref Robin, Small Fry Tiny Tim, and Totem.
c. These tomato plants are not compact and naturally climb. They will require a cage, trellis, or stake.
2. Plant your tomato seeds in a starting mix.
Wet your seed starter mix or potting soil with fresh water until it is moist. Fill a seedling starter tray with a moist mix or soil. Poke one hole in the soil of each cell—the hole should be ¼ inch deep. Insert about 8 seeds into each hole with a tweezers or your fingers. Cover the holes with moist soil or mix.
a. Sow the seeds ten to twelve months before you intend to harvest your tomatoes.
b. If you don’t have seed trays, you can use plastic yogurt containers or cans.
c. If you are planting the seeds in a used container, clean the container with a 1:10 bleach:water solution.
3. Promote germination with consistent heat and water. Germination is the process of transformation from a seed to a seedling. Tomato seeds will germinate within five to ten days. There are several actions you can take to speed up this process and to ensure its success.
a. Immediately after planting the seeds, cover your seedlings with a lid or a sheet of plastic wrap—this will prevent the soil from drying out.
b. Move the cells to a warm location. Throughout the germination, maintain a daytime soil temperature between 70 to 80?. If you can not heat the space to at least 70?, consider purchasing a heat mat or placing the plant cells in a sunny location.
c. Everyday, lift up the lid and water the seeds as needed.
4. Move your sprouted seedlings to a sunny or artificially lit location. Tomato seedlings and plants require between 12 to 16 hours of light each day. Without adequate light, tomato plants will become weak. As soon as the seeds have sprouted, discard of the cover and provide your seedlings with ample light. If you have a south-facing window, place the cells directly in front of the window. If you do not have a south-facing window, shine a grow-light or a fluorescent light on the seedlings.
a. Artificial light sources should be placed a few inches from the tops of the seedlings. As the plants grow, you will need to adjust the height of the lamps.
b. If you are keeping your plants on a windowsill or in front of a window, rotate them frequently to ensure that every side is exposed to light.