If your mouth waters at the idea of fresh tomato salsa or homemade spaghetti sauce, you may want to try growing tomato plants inside your home.
In an indoor garden, choose a kind of tomato variety well suited for that growing area. Crack resistant types of tomatoes, such as the heirloom varieties, Marglobe and Market Champion (or mainstream Park Seed) are good choices.
Start with Great Soil
Standard potting mix with a teaspoon of hydrated lime will prevent blossom end rot later on in the tomato growing process.
Plant the Seeds or Small Plants
If you start with seeds, plant them 1/4 inch deep and about 8 seeds per inch. You may want to cover the pots for the first few days to prevent them from drying out. A loose plastic bag or an old plastic milk jug cut open and turned over will do this nicely. Tomato seeds germinate and pop up in 5 to 12 days. Remove any cover you have over them as soon as you can see them pop through the surface.
Put the Plants under Fluorescent Lighting
The light should be on the seeds/sprouts/plants for 18 to 24 hours a day. Put the light close to them, 4-6 inches from the seeds or the highest point on the plant.
When plants are a few inches high, give them some 16-16-16 fertilizer at about 600 ppm.
Keep the plants at 70-75 degrees during the day and 65-67 degrees at night.
When the plants are 12 inches or more, they may need to be transplanted to one-gallon containers.
After about 6 to 8 weeks of growing from a seed, the plants will be ready to force flower. Make a final transplant into a 3 gallon pot. Some tomatoes take up to 80 days to begin to fruit, beginning from the time you force flower them. For two weeks, feed them 10-52-70 fertilizer every time you water, at 800 ppm. After that, resume using the 16-16-16 fertilizer at 800 ppm each time you water.
Pollinate the flowers by hand. An electric toothbrush rubbed against the male anthers (part of the flower) will dislodge the pollen easily, and you can put it on the female carpels (part of the flower). The more pollen fertilizing the plant, the meatier the tomato will be, so do this daily during flowering.
Prune off the vines that grow out of the tomato plant during flowering. They suck up nutrients, and pruning them off will help your tomatoes grow better.
Once the tomato plants have fruit set, give it another dose of hydrated lime to prevent blossom end rot.
In 60 to 80 days, you should be enjoying your own delicious tomatoes.
Growing tomatoes indoors is highly rewarding and delicious, and it’s and a beautiful addition to any home!