Who doesn’t love some tasty tomatoes? We bet you do! Tomatoes are summer plants. They bear fruit during hot summer days but when the cold days of winter arrive, they wither. However, you can grow tomatoes during winter in a greenhouse or….indoors!
Yeap! Don’t be surprised! Did you think that you can grow only chillies and avocados indoors? You can enjoy tasteful tomatoes all year as well. They’ll be smaller and with less fruit than summer plants, but you’ll have fresh, flavourful tomatoes throughout the winter. Are you ready to see how to grow tomatoes indoors?
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Are tomatoes a good choice for your garden?
Tomatoes are an ideal plant to grow both outside in your garden and inside your house. You don’t need to look for any special variety. You can either get seeds or grow tomatoes from cuttings.
There’s something, though, you have to watch out for. Pollination. Wind and insects pollinate the tomato plants. Thus, you’ll have to help with the pollination process. How?
- Mimic the wind by using a fan towards the plants.
- Pollinating your tomatoes using a paintbrush or cotton swab. Rub these on the flowers, spreading the pollen to each other.
- Shake the main stems with your fingers.
Which is the best variety?
You can choose among great tomato varieties to grow in your garden. You can find tomato types in different sizes, appearances, tastes and so on. Most types grow upwards up to 300cm.
Some of the most common types are:
- Beefsteak Red: This type of tomato plant produces bright red-coloured large fruit with thick flesh. It’s rather tall, and you’ll probably need to stake it or provide it with another support.
- Patio: This type is ideal for containers as it reaches up to 60cm in height. The patio is a small hybrid type and produces very flavourful tomatoes.
- Cherry: It is probably the species with the smallest fruit, hence the name. Cherry tomatoes are ultra juicy and tasteful.
- Roma: It’s the most used type to make sauces and pastes. They look like eggs in shape and have more flesh than juice.
However, probably the best indoor tomato type is micro dwarf varieties like:
- Red Robin
- Sweet ‘n’ Neat
- Pot Minibel
- Tiny Tim
- Tom Thumb
- Balconi Red and Yellow Pear
These varieties are ideal for growing tomatoes indoors in a south-facing window as they reach a few centimetres of height, and they take about 60 days to grow and produce tomatoes. If you don’t have enough space, a good idea would be to place them on hanging baskets.
How to plant and grow your tomatoes?
Tomatoes need sunlight, around 21°C temperature, watering, and fertilizing. If you provide your indoor homegrown tomatoes with the proper conditions, you can produce fresh, flavourful tomatoes super easily. Hence, find a warm spot in your house that has 6 or more hours of direct sunlight, like a windowsill. Once you’ve chosen your tomatoes seeds and have found the perfect spot for your indoor tomato plants, you can get started.
Here’s what you are going to need to start the indoor garden of your own tomatoes:
- Tomato seeds
- Starting trays
- Seed starting mix or potting soil
- Heat mat (optional)
- LED grow light (optional)
- A sunny spot
- Plant stakes
Now, you are ready to start planting. Just keep in mind that the procedure will take some time. After planting the tomato seeds, you’ll have to wait for almost a month for the seeds to sprout. The process of the seeds transforming to seedlings is known as germination.
Start by planting the seeds into starting trays
Add a layer of potting mix in starting trays and moist it. Plant up to three seeds per hole, with 0.5cm depth and place the starting trays on a heat mat. In case of not having a heat mat, you have to keep the tray constantly warm. Seeds don’t need light for the time being; thus, you can put the tray wherever you want without thinking about sunlight conditions.
Transplant into bigger pots
Now, you have to be patient until germination occurs. Once the seeds have turned to seedlings, you have to transplant your young plants into larger pots with drainage holes. Fill the pots with the same potting soil and put the tomato seedlings in there. Move them into a sunny place (a sunny window is an ideal place). If it’s winter, set up some LED grow lights to warm them and provide them with the necessary light. Or you can always try using a smart garden.
Water them often
New seedlings need water every few days. If you aren’t sure how often to water them, you can check the soil. If it’s dry, then water them. Don’s forget that it’s really important to learn how to water your plants the right way.
Fertilise your tomatoes
Once you have moved your plants into the bigger pots, you have to fertilise them every couple of weeks, and when small green tomatoes appear, once a week is enough. Tomatoes need nutrients to be able to grow and produce fruits throughout the year. Provide them with an organic slow-release fertiliser for the best results.
Stake the vines
As soon as the tomatoes grow, you should use plant stakes or trellis. Staking will hold the vines and help the main stem grow upwards. Once your tomatoes grow a lot, you can move them to an even bigger pot.
Care and maintenance
If you want to enjoy your indoor tomatoes, whether you’re growing determinate or indeterminate varieties, you need to know some tips to maintain them in good condition and help them grow to be healthy and produce fruit all year long.
- When buying the seeds, ask for guidelines about their watering and feeding needs. Different types of tomatoes need different conditions.
- Remember to rotate the plants, so all sides get even sunlight.
- Check for bugs. Like all plants, tomatoes are sensitive to water flies and aphids.
- Don’t prune micro dwarf varieties. However, if you have indeterminate tomatoes, pruning some vines can be good for them.
Harvesting and storing
You’ll be able to enjoy your indeterminate tomatoes within 60-80 days after planting, in contrast with determinate tomatoes that they need approximately 40 days. Make sure, though, that you pick them up when they are ripe.
- Harvest your tomatoes before they have gone ripen: You don’t have to pick up your tomatoes when they’re fully grown and red. Actually, you can collect them while they’re green. Don’t worry! A few days in a basket somewhere on your kitchen’s countertop are enough to get them ready. Hold the tomato close to the stem and twist the vine until it snaps off.
- Keep producing through the year: Once you have picked up your first tomato fruit, it doesn’t mean that this is the end of your indoor gardening. You can still have yummy tomatoes throughout the winter, even when the growing season has ended. Just provide your tomato plants with the right conditions.
Once you’ve picked up your tomatoes, check them. If they’re ripe or overripe, you can store them in the fridge, where they can last up to 2 weeks. Place them on the top shelf by the fridge door so they don’t get frozen. Before eating them, you have to let them get to room temperature to enjoy the juice and the flavour.
In case you’ve picked up green tomatoes, you can let them on the countertop for a few days. Be careful, though! They need to be in a single layer, like a paper bag for example, without touching each other. Don’t store them in the fridge. It prevents the process, and your tomatoes will never be juicy and tasteful.
Finally, if you’ve used a part of a tomato, and want to store the other part, you can place it in the fridge with the cut-side down on a paper towel and use an airtight container. If you want to save tomatoes from going bad, freeze them for two to three months. However, don’t expect the same flavours. They’ll probably be very soft. You can still use them, though, to make soup and sauces.
Growing tomatoes indoors is an easy process, even if you’re a beginner when it comes to gardening. Tomatoes need warm temperatures, sunlight, proper watering and fertilising. Provide your indoor plants with the necessary conditions, and you’ll enjoy fresh, juicy tomatoes all year! Next stop? Learn how to grow your own cucumbers and get ready for an amazing homemade greek salad! Happy gardening!