How To Grow Tomatoes Indoors

Tips for growing tomatoes indoors. Placement, lighting, soil, and temperature are factors in growth.

If you want to grow succulent tomatoes inside, here are a few tips to get you started.

Space and type of tomato:

Most tomatoes need a bit of space if you want to grow them efficiently. But indoors, space is not a possibility for everyone. The limited space problem can be solved by getting the right type of tomatoes.

Plants can be bought and transplanted into larger pots or tomatoes can be started by seed. The pot size needed is determined by the type of tomato. Determinate varieties are tomatoes that don't usually need additional staking and they produce only once. Indeterminate tomatoes are those that require staking and continuously produce until colder weather sets in. Just use a small two-by-four and ties (twist ties or twine) or buy commercial tomato cages. Both varieties should do in six to ten inch pots.

There are many different types of tomatoes. The three main types of tomatoes are main crop (the type we usually have on sandwiches), cherry and plum or sauce tomatoes. Most tomatoes take three to four months to mature but there are some that don't take quite as long. Most home and garden stores, farm markets and supermarkets have a high variety of types to select.

Light:

Light is important in the plant's growth so a sunny window is the ideal place for a tomato plant. But if a sunny window is not accessible or it's improbable artificial lighting is an option.

Most garden stores and supermarkets carry grow lights, lights specifically made to grow plants indoors. Most are two to three feet long and are rather inexpensive.



Some tips for placement of the artificial lighting:

1. If planting by seed, place the light as close as possible to the seed bed.

2. The light should be three to four inches above the plant. Any further up the plant might become leggy. Leggy plants have long stems and it can hamper efficient growth.

3. The plants need at least six hours of light preferably more but generally they need a dark period (to simulate day and night as if they were outdoors).

4. Remember, the plant will eventually be at least three feet high and more likely, higher. So proper placement is a must.

Soil:

The right soil can make the difference between strong growth production and mediocre growth and production. If starting by seed, a germination mix is probably best. A good soil will be able to retain moisture and give the plant its nourishment.

There are commercial plant foods that are available too as well as soils that have the food mixed right in. Tomatoes like well-drained soil that is a neutral pH.

Temperature:

Tomato plants thrive in warm temperatures. If started by seed, the temperature needs to be between 65 and 70 to get maximum results. Plants will need temperatures between the same to get better yields.

Other tips:

1. To encourage better yields, pinch plants back in their first weeks especially if started by seed. Pinching back the shoots that come from the main stem encourages the seedling to put all its energy into fruit production eventually.

2. Tomatoes are self pollinators but outdoors, they have natural pollinators such as the wind and insects. Inside, there are less of these natural pollinators (at least we think so). Once the plant blossoms, take a small paintbrush and gently stroke each blossom once or twice. Do this to all the blossoms so each blossom will be pollinated.

3. You can simulate gentle breezes by blowing on the plant once a day. It could help the plant by making it "think" it is outside.

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