For many home gardeners, tomatoes signal the beginning of summertime. Gardeners grow tomatoes for use in many culinary dishes, as well as a primary ingredient for canning and preserving. Some gardeners grow these plants indoors during the winter months to enjoy fresh produce throughout the entire year. Although tomatoes thrive in sunny, outdoor locations, many grow well inside in containers. Tomatoes come in hundreds of varieties, offering a large selection in sizes, shapes and colors.
Select tomato varieties that grow well in containers and don't take up vast quantities of room inside your home. Plant indeterminate varieties, such as Green Grape, Early Girl Hybrid and Quick Pick. These indeterminate varieties continue producing fruits for several months, making them good choices for indoor, winter gardening.
Fill a small seed pot with average potting soil. Use a biodegradable pot to reduce transplant shock. Lay three or four seeds over the top of the soil. Use the tip of a pencil to press the seeds about 1/4-inch into the soil. Press the soil over the tops of the submerged seeds with your fingertips.
Place your tomato plant in a bright, sunny window or under a commercial grow light. Provide a minimum of six to eight hours of direct light. Tomato plants prefer temperatures around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid placing your plant in cold, drafty areas. Water lightly until a little moisture appears on the bottom of your biodegradable pot. Keep the soil slightly moist. Watch for seeds to sprout within five to 10 days after planting. Watch for the second set of leaves to open, then thin out all but the strongest seedling from the pot. Remove the weaker seedlings carefully and do not disturb the soil near the roots of the remaining plant.
Transplant your tomato plant into a 6-inch pot when it reaches about 3 inches in height. Use a pot with drainage holes in the bottom. Plant the biodegradable pot into the larger pot, using average potting soil. Place a wooden dowel into the soil to provide support. Gently tie the stem to the dowel with pieces of soft twine as your plant grows and matures. Keep your transplanted tomato in a bright location that supplies a minimum of 6 hours of direct light, and continue to keep the soil slightly moist near the roots. Use a drip tray to catch excess water.
Fertilize your indoor tomato plants with tomato fertilizer. Follow the instructions on the label for mixing and applying the fertilizer to the soil. Turn your plant every week or so to supply equal amounts of direct sunlight to all sides and encourage even, strong growth. Once flowers form, gently tap the stems of your tomato plant to assist pollination. These plants readily pollinate in the garden with the help of insects, but require your assistance indoors.