Tomato-lovers agree, there is nothing better than large slices of juicy tomatoes on a burger or cherry tomatoes in a crispy salad. Unfortunately, the grocery store is not known for having the best tomatoes. Growing tomatoes indoors from seeds is a great way to enjoy fresh tomatoes from your own garden each growing season.
Have you ever noticed how the tomatoes at your local grocer are perfectly round and evenly colored yet seem bland? This is because they are bred to look beautiful at the cost of flavor.
If you’ve never had a garden tomato, you probably don’t even know what you’re missing. Vegetables from a farmer’s market or fresh from the garden are packed full of flavor and probably not laden with pesticides.
The greatest thing about homegrown tomatoes is that you know exactly where they come from and how they are grown. Not only that, but they are easy to start in an indoor garden.
- Ways to Grow Tomatoes at Home
- Is it Easy to Grow Tomatoes at Home?
- Choosing the Right Plants before Growing Tomatoes Indoors
- Can You Grow Tomatoes Indoors?
- Transplant Tomatoes into the Garden
- Can You Grow Tomatoes in Containers?
- Taking Care of Your Tomato Plants
- How to Prevent Common Tomato Diseases
- Pests and Insects to Watch for on Tomato Plants
- When are Tomatoes Ready for Harvesting?
- How to Propagate Tomato Plants for More Tomatoes
Ways to Grow Tomatoes at Home
Growing tomatoes at home is more uncomplicated than you think, even if you have limited outdoor space.
We’ll explain the different types of tomatoes, how to grow them indoors, and ways to transplant your indoor tomato plants in the garden or patio containers.
Is it Easy to Grow Tomatoes at Home?
Growing tomatoes as houseplants is not very productive unless you have the perfect amount of south-facing window sunshine or an artificial light source. Here are a few things to review if you decide to grow tomatoes indoors.
Tomato Plant Growing Conditions
There are a few important things to understand if you choose to grow your tomato plants indoors through the entire growing process.
They grow well if they receive six to eight hours of light every day, so it’s vital to place your plant in front of a south-facing, sunny window or provide it with a growing light.
Fortunately, tomato plants are self pollinating and do not need bees and other insects for pollination. However, it’s useful to help the process by gently shaking the stems to release pollen or with a cotton swab.
Choosing the Right Plants before Growing Tomatoes Indoors
There are so many different flavorful tomatoes, from tiny Tim and yellow pear to Roma and beefsteak, that it’s hard to choose which ones to grow in your garden. Before you learn how to grow tomatoes indoors or want to start planting cherry tomatoes at home, it’s essential to understand the different tomato varieties.
There are two main tomatoes, the determinate and indeterminate tomato, and knowing the differences is key to growing the perfect tomatoes.
Determinate tomatoes, or bush tomatoes, usually grow three to four feet in height and stop growing once flowers blossom on the branch tips.
Indeterminate plants, or vining tomatoes, grow six to 20 feet tall, depending on the type, and grow tomatoes all season until the first frost.
There are also many types of tomatoes, from small grape, cherry, and Roma to large heirloom and beefsteak.
Grape tomatoes are ideal for snacking, cherry tomatoes are the right size for salads, Roma tomatoes are a great choice for sauces, and beefsteak tomatoes are perfect for slicing.
Can You Grow Tomatoes Indoors?
We all know that tomatoes grow with ease in an outdoor garden, but can you grow tomatoes indoors?
It is possible to grow indoor tomatoes if you have grow lights. Even if you decide to grow tomatoes at home in the garden, it’s still useful to start them indoors from seeds.
Pour potting mix into a planting tray and moisten it with water. Use the end of a pencil or chopstick to make a quarter-inch hole in each compartment and drop two to three seeds in each space. Push the dirt gently over the seeds and pat it down lightly.
Set the tray in a warm windowsill where the temperature is between 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and water it daily by spraying the surface. Germination takes up to seven days, depending on the variety, and the true leaves appear in about one month.
At this point, it’s time to prepare them for transplanting in the garden or larger pots. Take the plants outdoors and set them in a safe area for a couple of hours. Do this every day for about a week to help them acclimate to the different conditions.
Take care of growing tomatoes in 5 gal buckets or slightly smaller pots and they will thrive.
Transplant Tomatoes into the Garden
After your tomatoes germinate, they require a lot of sunshine to thrive. If you don’t have enough indoor sunshine, it’s simple to grow tomatoes at home by transplanting young plants into your backyard garden bed.
Prepare your garden bed by tilling in a couple of inches of compost. Make a hole that is roughly two inches deeper than the seedling pot and space them according to the seed packet instructions.
Remove the seedlings from their container and plant them deeply in the soil with only the topmost leaves above ground. Tap the soil around the plants with your hands and water them thoroughly.
Do you know how far apart should you plant tomato plants? Spacing is important. Allow two feet or more between each plant for them to grow properly.
Can You Grow Tomatoes in Containers?
Can you grow tomatoes indoors or in a patio container? Planting tomato seeds indoors in early spring gives your garden a head start.
While it is possible to keep growing them in your home as they mature, not every home has enough light. Here is how to transplant them into a container for your porch or patio.
Fill a five-gallon bucket with potting soil and make a slightly larger hole than the seedling’s original pot. If you do not have a bucket, use a pot that is at least one square foot in size.
Remove the tomato seedling from its container and loosen the roots slightly before placing it deeply into the soil. Fill the dirt in around the plant and pat it lightly in place with your hands.
Give it a watering and cover the dirt with mulch since potted plants dry out faster than those in the ground. Set the potted plant in front of a sunny window or outside on your porch, where it receives more than six hours of full sun daily.
Taking Care of Your Tomato Plants
Tomato plants need proper care to flourish and produce a tasty crop, everything from good drainage in the soil and sunlight to pollination and fertilization. Here is how to care for your new plants as they grow.
Water your plants regularly, especially during dry periods, when the soil is dry an inch or two below the surface. About two to three weeks after planting, spread a mulch layer around the plants to hinder weeds from taking over the garden and retain moisture.
Make sure to add compost to the garden or pot before planting to provide the tomatoes with nutrients, feed the plants after their first fruit sets, and repeat the fertilizing process after four weeks.
Prune dead or damaged leaves and stems right away to encourage the plant to put its energy into healthy growth rather than its injuries.
How to Prevent Common Tomato Diseases
Unfortunately, tomato stems, leaves, and fruits are susceptible to diseases, just like many other plants. Luckily, there are several ways to halt these disorders by following a few simple steps.
Tomato Disease Prevention
The best way to stop plant disease is to choose disease-resistant varieties. Check the seed packets or plant tag information when purchasing your next tomatoes.
Throw away diseased material as soon as you spot it, like tomato leaves turning brown, and always disinfect your tools and containers to halt future spreading. Disease-causing pathogens live in the dirt, so rotating your crops each year is useful.
Place a couple of inches of mulch around your plants to inhibit fungal spores from splashing on the leaves from the soil when watering, and avoid getting the foliage wet when possible.
Space your plants accordingly to ensure there is proper air circulation and pinch off diseased leaves right away.
Pests and Insects to Watch for on Tomato Plants
Various insects enjoy munching away on your tomato plant’s leaves and fruit, and some of them are more destructive than others. Here is how to spot these garden pests and ways to eliminate them.
Aphids are a common garden pest, and these little buggers are often hard to notice. They are tiny, green insects that spend most of their time clinging to the underside of foliage and suck the life out of your plant.
Crush them by hand or spray them with the garden hose as soon as you notice them to prevent an infestation.
Hornworms are giant green caterpillars that devour entire tomato plants if left on their own. Even though they are three inches long, they are easy to miss since they blend in with the leaf color. Remove them by hand immediately to stop them from destroying the plant.
Another tomato pest is the cutworm, and these tiny worms feed on the plant’s stem and kill seedlings. To control them, make a cardboard collar and sink it one inch into the soil around your new plants.
When are Tomatoes Ready for Harvesting?
A good tomato harvest is your reward for providing your plants with the care they need to flourish, but when are they ready for picking? The answer depends on the types of tomatoes you grow.
Check your plants daily after the blossoms turn into fruits. Watch as they begin to grow to their mature size and shape and clip them from the stem as soon as they turn from green to the desired color.
Tomatoes emit ethylene gas and continue to ripen after picking, so harvesting them before they are ripe is fine.
If the end of the growing season is drawing near and you find it necessary to harvest green tomatoes, simply store them on your kitchen counter until they turn color or make pickled green tomatoes.
Growing green tomatoes is just as easy as waiting for them to turn red. There are some varieties that stay green and are “true” green tomatoes.
How to Propagate Tomato Plants for More Tomatoes
While all tomatoes grow from seed, some varieties also grow from propagation. We’ll explain which types to propagate and how to grow new plants from your mature tomato plants.
Inspect your mature plant for sucker shoots that do not have buds and remove six to eight inches of the shoot with a sharp pair of garden scissors. Clip away the bottom leaves and any flowers or buds while leaving two healthy leaves at the top.
Fill a small pot with garden mix and make a hole in the center. Place the cutting deeply into the center, so the top leaves are above the soil and lightly pack in the dirt around the bottom.
Set the container in a warm, shaded area of the yard or patio and give it a drink of water.
Keep it moist and gradually move it to a sunnier location after about one week. Once the plant begins to sprout new stems and leaves, transplant it to a larger pot or the garden.
All tomato plants require to produce fruit is the right amount of sunshine, some rich soil to plant their roots in, and a good drink of water each day. Throw in some tender loving care, and your plants reward you with an abundance of fruits at the end of the growing season.
Growing tomatoes indoors is easier than you think, and the tomatoes your plants produce are tastier than those from the grocery store, so why not share our tomato growing guide and tips with the tomato-lovers in your life on Facebook and Pinterest?