Growing tomatoes indoors can be surprisingly easy with just a small amount of knowledge and it’s entirely possible to produce a healthy crop of tomatoes in a very limited space. Indeed whilst at university many years ago I managed to grow tomatoes indoors by keeping them as houseplants on my windowsill so tomatoes really are a delicious, healthy food that can be grown by anyone with the desire.
Selecting Your Location For Growing Tomatoes Indoors
Growing tomatoes indoors means different things to different people. Variously this can mean either growing tomatoes in a greenhouse where the summer warmth can lead to impressively large and juicy fruits or growing them on a windowsill in the home.
Of course the methods for growing tomatoes varies significantly depending on which of these situations is applicable for you but for the purposes of this article we’re going to assume that you’re looking to grow tomatoes inside your home as this is something that anyone can accomplish.
In general tomatoes like a warm and very sunny environment with a rich, moist compost. Get these conditions right and you’re well on the road to success so if you’re looking to grow tomatoes indoors the best possible place will be to use your south-facing windowsills which should get more sun than any others and so will lead to the very best crop possible for you.
Equipment For Growing Tomatoes Indoors
Growing tomatoes requires very little specialist equipment. Of course grow bags are a popular way to grow tomatoes but these are typically unattractive and rather large to place on a windowsill so instead it’s worth investing in some decent-sized flower pots.
The overall size of the pot you will need depends on the variety of tomato you decide to grow but typically a 8-12″ pot is more than sufficient for each plant – and each individual plant may produce quite a surprising amount of fruit when the plants are cared for properly.
Compost is another essential element and as mentioned tomatoes tend to prefer a rich substrate in which to grow so multi-purpose compost is ideal in comparison to the more sandier composts available for many tubs and containers.
When they are laden down with fruit tomatoes will often benefit from some structural support and so it can be wise to get hold of a few garden canes or sticks, together with some string or twine, so that a stick can be driven into each flower pot and as your tomatoes grow they can be gently tied to it thus preventing them coming to any damage.
Lastly tomatoes tend to use a lot of nutrients when producing their crop and so a specialist [easyazon-link asin=”B000P7345G”]tomato fertilizer[/easyazon-link] can be beneficial to ensure they continue to grow strongly right throughout the season. Tomato plants which aren’t fed regularly can quickly exhaust the limited amount of nutrition in a container and may start to wild or turn brown.
Selecting Suitable Tomatoes For Indoor Growing
There are a huge number of different types of tomatoes and each one is suited to certain conditions. In terms of growing tomatoes indoors the best varieties are typically dwarf bush varieties such as the many cherry tomato plants which can be sourced from many garden centres or seed merchants.
Growing Tomatoes From Seed
Tomatoes are easy to grow from seed and doing so is not only great fun but can also save you considerable money when compared to buying young plants that have already germinated.
For a really easy way to get started it is possible to buy [easyazon-link asin=”B002LHEMW2″]tomato growing kits[/easyazon-link] which contain everything you need to get going.
When growing tomatoes from seed scatter the seeds over the surface of a plant pot filled with moist, rich compost and then add a thin later of additional compost on-top. Secure an old carrier bag over the top of the pot with an elastic band to keep the warmth and moisture in and then place the pot on the sunniest windowsill in your house.
A variety of factors will affect how quickly the tomatoes germinate including, but not limited to, the freshness of the seeds and the temperature of the compost but often within a few days the seedlings will begin to sprout. When you observe this remove the plastic top and keep the compost moist by watering it regularly and before long the seedlings will be ready to transplant into a larger container.
Purchasing Tomato Plants
Tomato plants should be a rich, dark green with no brown marks on them. They should also stand proud and upright rather than wilting. For growing indoors the best tomatoes tend to be the more compact, squat versions rather than the larger, leggier varieties for growing outdoors or in the greenhouse.
Be particularly careful if you opt to buy pre-grown tomato plants to ensure you are buying a variety suitable for growing indoors which only grows to a manageable size as an adult plant.
Caring For Tomatoes Indoors
Assuming you manage to keep your plants in a warm, sunny location growing tomatoes indoors takes very little work but there are three elements worth taking into consideration when it comes to their day-to-day care.
Tomatoes like moist compost so you should aim to keep them damp at all times. Doing so will not only keep them healthy and ensure you get the best crop of tomatoes possible but in addition helps to prevent your plants from wilting which can become a problem in warm weather.
A further point worth noting is that tomatoes which do not receive consistent watering but are instead allowed to dry out before being drowned again can produce poor quality fruit as inconsistent watering cause can the fruit to split while it is still on the plant.
As mentioned earlier tomatoes will need regular feeding along with their watering. Follow the instructions on your tomato fertilizer carefully for best results.
“Pinching Out” Tomatoes
Once your tomato plants start to produce fruit we want them to put as much effort into producing the very best tomatoes possible rather than looking to grow additional leaves. Consequently, depending on the variety of tomatoes you have opted to grow indoors, consider “pinching out” the shoots of your tomato so that as much energy goes into fruit production as possible.
Further Reading On Growing Tomatoes
There are many books available for growing the best tomatoes possible and a quick search in your local library or bookstore will no doubt turn up some options. There are also a number of ebooks available which can be purchased to save paper and are therefore arguably more environmentally-friendly than print books. Having spoken to a few fellow tomato growers recently it seems the most highly regarded such ebook is Now That’s What I Call A Tomato!