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How to Grow Indoor Tomatoes

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How to Grow Indoor Tomatoes

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Overview

If you don't have space for an outdoor garden, you can still grow juicy, delicious vine-ripened tomatoes indoors. Tomatoes need long, sunny days and warm temperatures, and even indoor tomatoes will perform best if grown in the summertime. You can grow tomatoes inside in the winter, too, if you've got a warm location and supplemental lighting. Indoor tomato plants require a bit more work than garden tomatoes, but in exchange you'll get tomatoes that are many times better than anything you can find in the supermarket.

Step 1

Choose a variety of tomato. Tomato plants with smaller fruit, such as cherry or grape tomatoes, do best in containers. Sun Gold, Patio and Tommy Toe are all good choices. Tomato seeds and transplants can be found in garden centers and nurseries in the spring and summer. If you want to grow winter tomatoes, buy the seeds in the summer, since they may not be available in the fall.

Step 2

Fill small containers with pre-moistened all-purpose potting mix. You can use peat pots or old yogurt tubs with holes poked in the bottom for drainage.

Step 3

Bury the tomato seeds with about 1/4 inch of soil.

Step 4

Place the container in a warm, sunny location, such as a south-facing window. If your tomatoes aren't getting eight to 12 hours of sunlight every day, use a grow light or bright fluorescent light to supplement the natural light.

Step 5

Water the tomatoes regularly to keep the soil evenly moist.

Step 6

Transplant the tomato seedlings to a five-gallon container once they are about 4 to 6 inches tall. Tomatoes need rich, fertile soil, so you should fill the container with three or four parts potting mix and one part compost. You can grow one to three tomato plants in a five-gallon container.

Step 7

Install a tomato cage or garden stakes to support your tomatoes as they grow bigger.

Step 8

Rotate the pots once a week so that every side of the tomato receives adequate light and so that the plant grows straight.

Step 9

Feed the tomatoes with fish emulsion two or three times during the growing season. Follow all directions on the package.

Step 10

Pollinate your tomatoes by tapping the vines every time you water, or turn an electric fan on the plants.

Step 11

Harvest the tomatoes when the fruit is richly colored, heavy for its size and comes off easily in your hand.

Things You'll Need

  • Tomato plants or seeds
  • Small containers
  • Potting mix
  • Florescent light
  • Compost
  • 5-gallon container
  • Tomato cage or stakes
  • Fish emulsion or other fertilizer
  • Electric fan

References

  • Mother Earth News: Winter Tomatoes
  • Colorado State University Cooperative Extension: Grow Your Own Tomatoes Indoors This Winter
Keywords: indoor tomatoes, grow tomatoes, winter tomatoes, container gardening, indoor plant light

About this Author

Sonya Welter worked in the natural foods industry for more than seven years before becoming a full-time freelancer in 2010. She has been published in "Mother Earth News," "Legacy" magazine and in several local publications in Duluth, Minn., including "Zenith City News," for which she writes a regular outdoors column. She graduated cum laude in 2002 from Northland College, an environmental liberal arts college.