With the rising cost of tomatoes, it pays for homeowners to grow their own, which taste even better than those bought in stores. Home gardeners who grow their own tomatoes indoors don't have to wait until the weather is warmer to enjoy fresh tomatoes. In addition to being a rewarding hobby, growing tomatoes indoors is also an opportunity to decorate a sunroom with large, attractive wooden crates or tubs that are used as planters.
Growing tomatoes indoors makes a garden portable. Another benefit is that it gives more control over the quality of soil and fertilizer. This keeps insects, weeds, fungal diseases and uninvited pests from damaging tomato plants.
Two of the easiest types to grow indoors are cherry tomatoes and plum tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes are the smallest tomato variety and are generally used in salads. While cherry tomatoes are small and round like grapes, plum tomatoes are somewhat egg-shaped and used more in making sauces. Both varieties grow quickly and can be grown in hanging baskets.
Location and Time Frame
Indoor tomato plants should be placed on or near a window facing south so they can receive as much sunlight as possible. Although tomatoes can be grown indoors during any season, the best time to plant them is mid-March as these vegetables thrive in a warm, humid environment. Seedlings typically sprout in about 5 to 12 days after they're planted. Once they start growing, an ideal temperature for growth is a room that's 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 65 to 67 degrees at night.
Indoor tomato gardening limits the amount of plants a gardener would normally plant outdoors as space is limited. The Gardening Tips.com website advises indoor tomato gardeners to plant two plants for each household member. For example, if there are two members in a household, four tomato plants is an ideal number. This number can be increased when tomatoes are also grown for canning or freezing.
Tips and Considerations
Poking holes in the bottoms of plant containers gives better water drainage. Tomato cages help keep leaves and fruit off the ground, allowing for growth.
Organic potting soil is commonly used for indoor tomato gardening. Using homemade compost, made from raked leaves, broken egg shells, grass clippings, vegetable peels and used coffee grounds, is also effective.
Plants of seedlings that look leggy may be a sign they're not receiving enough light. Because natural lighting can be limited during the shorter days of winter months, it's helpful to provide some fluorescent lights that can be suspended over plant containers. Grow lights will also work.