How to Grow Tomatoes Indoors

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Small tomato varieties usually work best for containers.
Small tomato varieties usually work best for containers. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Even if it's the dead of winter or if your outdoor space is limited or too shady, you can still grow your own tomato plants. Many gardeners have taken to windowsill gardening, and indoor tomatoes can be your next adventure. In fact, if you plant one or two tomato plants every couple of weeks, you'll end up with a continuous supply of fresh tomatoes.

Things You'll Need

  • Starter potting mix
  • Seed tray
  • Potting soil
  • Plant pot
  • Tomato stake or cage
  • Fertilizer
  • Grow light (optional)

Sow seeds that produce miniature size tomatoes, such as Patio or Small Fry, in a seed tray using soil labeled as a starter mix that contains fertilizer. Sow two or three seeds per compartment, planting them 1/4 inch deep. Water to evenly moisten the soil and place the tray in a warm area that is between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 60 to 75 degrees at night.

Thin 3-inch tall tomato plants to one strong seedling per compartment. Then, transplant into a larger container filled with a regular, high-quality potting soil that contains fertilizer. A 6-inch pot works, but a 3- to 5-gallon container gives the tomato roots plenty of space to grow.

Place the container directly in front of a sunny, south-facing window or in a sun room. Tomatoes require lots of light, so if your indoor space does not receive at least six hours of sunlight, supplement with an artificial light. Grow lights are sold just for this purpose and have the correct light spectrum for growing plants.

Keep the soil consistently moist and turn the tomato plant 90 degrees one or two times a week so all sides receive adequate lighting. Also, insert a stake or place a tomato cage over top of each young plant. If you use a stake, tie the growing stems loosely to the stake with twine or strips of cloth every 10 inches.

Fertilize indoor tomato plants every two weeks, beginning two weeks after transplanting the seedlings to larger pots. Use a liquid all-purpose fertilizer, applying one-half the recommended dosage as specified on the label.

Tips & Warnings

  • After harvesting all your fruits from a healthy tomato plant, pull up the plant and reuse the pot and soil for your next tomato seedling.
  • If you've over watered and begin to get little flying bugs, place a shallow dish of apple cider vinegar nearby. The bugs will fly in and drown. Yellow sticky traps can be used as well.
  • Watch for any other tiny pests and use yellow sticky traps or spray the plant with a weak solution of liquid dish soap (NOT the antibacterial type!) and water.
  • If plants show any sign of distress, spray them with a mixture of liquid seaweed and water. I have found the liquid seaweed works wonders when plants are stressed.
  • Always wash your hands before working with your tomatoes. This is especially important if you smoke, as tobacco sometimes contains viruses that can spread to other plants.
  • When using soaps, never use antibacterial soaps because many beneficial bacteria are working in harmony with your plants.

References

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