Tomatoes are a great and easy fruit to grow inside, and are very versatile when it comes to cooking, and eating them. Throw them in a salad straight from the plant, add them to a hearty stew for an excellent flavour, or cook them slowly for a delicious pasta sauce.
It is very easy to grow tomatoes at home. I have done this with success a few times now, and have done a little more research to help you out today. You will need a sunny window, some small pots, soil of some kind, normally called potting soil or garden soil, and finally some tomato seeds. These can be bought from your local supermarket, or garden center. Also try and find something that the pots can sit in. An old baking tray is good as you can fit lots of plants in, and put it in the window to grow.
How to plant Tomato seeds?
This is potentially going to get messy, so find a nice clear surface to work on, and get all your equipment and seeds ready. A small spade or garden trowel would be handy here, but you can just use your hands.
Don’t be tempted to compress the soil down, this will make it hard for the seed to germinate
Take some soil, and loosely fill one of your pots with it. Don’t be tempted to compress the soil down, this will make it hard for the seed to germinate and grow its first life giving roots. Fill it about three quarters full, and repeat with the next one.
Open your seed packet, take one at a time, and place it on top of the soil. Then very gently, trying to keep the seed in the center of the pot, cover it loosly with soil. This is a mistake I have made several times, including this year actually. If you put the seed too deep in the soil, it will not have enough energy to push through and start to grow. Be gentle.
How many tomato seeds should I plant?
Depending on what type of tomato seeds you bought, and how much room you have this will vary.
There are two main types of tomato plant, and it should say on the back of the packet which one you have. The two types are:
- Indeterminate tomatoes
- Determinate tomatoes
Indeterminate tomatoes are what I tend to grow, and these are the ones that I talk about in the rest of this article. The top of the plant won’t stop and become a flower, but will try its best to continue to grow as tall as possible. If you have a south facing wall in your yard, or garden, or balcony, then it should be possible to grow this type of tomato anywhere. They might need a stick to hold them upright, when they get very big.
Determinate tomatoes are probably best if you are going to keep it in your kitchen window for its entire life span. The plant stem will end in a cluster of flowers, and the rest of the plant will follow along behind it. The result is that the entire plant should produce fruit at roughly the same time. This is good and bad. If the plant is healthy, then there will be lots of tomatoes at once, rather than staggered a little bit with its taller friend the Indeterminate tomato.
One package of seeds that I bought had only 5 seeds in. This is enough tomato plants for most people, and if you really plan, you can stagger the planting of them so that they produce fruit one after another. Again depending on what sort of tomato seeds you bought you might have loads of seeds. If this is the first time you are doing this, then plant more than you think you’ll need, as there is a chance some won’t ever germinate. I planted 12 seeds this year, and only 5 have germinated and started to grow.
How do I care for tomato plants growing inside?
Ideally the newly planted seeds would be covered with something seethru. This way they will get nice and warm during the day, and hopefully keep some of that heat overnight.
One tip is to use an old grape box, and cut off the lid to then cover your pot or plants. This will act as a miniature greenhouse.
Old 1 liter water, or pop bottles are also great for putting over the top of your plants once they have started growing. The key is to keep them warm, and hydrated.
Once they have started to come up, I try to rotate them once every few days. If you don’t do this, you will notice your little tomato plants start to lean over, trying to get maximum sun. If you rotate them, they will grow straight up, giving you a nice strong stem and root system.
How much water do they need?
Just enough. If you are just growing your new tomatoes in small pots in the window, then they will dry out fairly fast. Keep and eye on them everyday, and water so that the soil is moist to the touch. If the water is pooling on top of the soil, you’ve put too much in. Don’t worry, it will go through the soil soon. The plants will not need watering everyday, but keep an eye on them as. As they get bigger they will naturally use more water.
How do I care for the plants when they have grown?
Indeterminate Tomato plants will constantly try and reproduce themselves once they have reached a certain height. This can be a good thing for an outdoor growing situation, and it can be good to allow another shoot to grow to maturity and then produce fruit.
Growing inside is a little bit different though, and I would suggest that you try and find determinate tomato plants.
If an indeterminate tomato plant is left to its own devices with proper watering it can be as tall as 2 meters. This is a little overkill for most kitchen windows. You will notice when an indeterminate tomato plant grows a shoot that it wants to be a new plant entirely. When you are watering, go around and check the very top of your plants, and look for any slightly lighter green shoots that look different from the others.
These can be called suckers, and they will do their best to become an entirely different plant. Pull them off. Pinch, and pull down, it will snap off with a little pop.
How do I harvest the fruit?
From planting the seeds in the soil until a tomato plant will produce fruit will take around 40-50 days. If properly cared for with the steps above.
When the first fruit appears, they will be little green balls on an obvious vine. Just keep watering and pruning the tops off when they appear, and wait for them to turn a rich red color.
When they have turned red, and look like they belong in a salad, simply pinch the tomato gently, and roll it away from the vine. If the fruit is really ready, it will almost fall off as you do this. If you prefer your tomatoes with a little tart flavour, you can harvest the, when they have just turned. Really nice in a pasta sauce, or grilled with breakfast.
Growing tomatoes is easy
Tomatoes are really tasty and versatile fruit. They can be made into loads of dishes, or just eaten straight off the plant as a healthy snack. It is the plant that I would start with if I had never grown anything before, as once germinated, it is very easy to care for. They like the sun and just enough water, that is it.
I will update this article as spring turns to summer, so that you can see the progress of my plants, and the various stages that they will go through before producing fruit.
The idea with these articles is to try and make people start to think about how they can become less dependent on the supermarkets, and general services in case something were to go wrong with the supply chain.
Becoming self-sufficient with food, or even just thinking about it, is a step in the right direction in a normal world anyway. I hope that you are here because the recent world events have made you ask these basic questions, and you have started on the road to becoming more self-sufficient with food, and all other aspects of life. I hope this website will be a help to you.
Tomatoes are great to eat, and a nice easy start to a more self-sufficient existence. We will later cover more advanced growing techniques, to give you bigger yields, and better results. Stay tuned to this section of our website for more articles on growing food, and fruit, to keep you going all year round.
Update of Tomato Growing Spring 2020
I have now successfully replanted my initial Tomato plants in large pots outside in the Greenhouse.
I mention successfully, because it is not always that the small plant is strong enough to move into a larger pot, and I have has plants wither and die on my several times over the years after moving them across. If in any doubt, just leave your plant in it original small pot until you can see little roots coming out of the bottom, this will mean that the plant has filled the pot with roots, and has sent longer roots out in the search for nutrients and water.
See the pictures below of the small plants, in larger pots. The large cluster was my daughters work, and Every seed germinated resulting in this very healthy looking tomato cluster with 9 separate plants. I'll pay close attention to this one, as all of those plants will require lots of water and maintenance. They should also provide with an excellent harvest.
Happy in its new pot, and growing strong and steady.
It is still cold at nights here in Southern Sweden, but the greenhouse seems to hold enough heat for these plants to be happy.
Stay tuned for more updates, and also an article on Kristian's indoor Hydroponic grow system. He has already harvested his tomatoes.
Ian Hunter - Father of three, based in Southern Sweden. Author and Co owner of Grow Zone and growing Food all winter. See my full About Page here.
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