from Seeds, Plants, in Containers, Upside Down and Indoors
A complete guide to
growing tomatoes from seeds, in pots and
containers, upside down and growing tomatoes indoors. Learn about soil conditions, sun
hours, spacing your tomatoes, watering,
transplanting tomatoes and a whole lot more for this
For a quick overview on how to be
successful at growing these vegetables you need the following:
8 hours of full sun a day
Deep, free-draining, fertile soil
Regular feeding and mulching
Shelter from strong winds
Cherry Tomatoes on a Window Sill
by Kathy Wynn | Dreamstime.com
Straw is also good to use when your
plants are fruiting in the spring and summer. This keeps the fruit off
the soil preventing them from spoiling and away from chewing insects
who might get round to spoiling a good part of your crop.
Growing Tomatoes in Good Soil
When growing tomatoes always make sure that your soil is rich in
organic material and has a
PH balance of between 6.0
- 6.5 as these vegetables love an acidic
soil. The soil should be kept moist at all times, but it should be
free-draining, never water-logged.
Because tomatoes have a large root
system, they benefit from being grown where a winter green manure crop
has been grown and dug in and left to decompose. If it is inhabited by
earthworms then you know that you will have a great crop!
The soil should not be too rich in
nitrogen. If it is, you will get leafy and leggy plants with very
little fruit. Too little nitrogen and your plants will be stunted and
their leaves will be yellow. Good sources for nitrogen
are well-rotted manure, compost, fish-emulsion, blood meal, and legume
strong roots and the formation of flowers, fruits and seeds, and helps
the plants resist disease. If the soil is poor in phosphorus your
plants will stunted, with thin stems and a purple tinge to the leaves
on the underside. Good sources of phosphorus can be found in bone meal
and poultry manure.
important for your plants to grow well and to resist disease. Too
little potassium will result in stunted plants, poor yields and yellow
leaves. A good source of potassium can be found in wood ash and greens.
Calcium is vital in
building strong celled-walls and also prevents blossom-end rot which is
a common problem in tomato growing. Natural sources of calcium include
wood ash, crushed egg shells and bone meal.
Growing Tomatoes and When to
Certainly tomatoes should never be
grown during a time when frost is about. They are very sensitive to
frost and the ideal temperature for growing this vegetable from seed is
when the temperatures are between 20-30°C (68-86°F).
The ideal temperatures for the fruit to
set is between 17-25°C (62-77°F). If temperatures exceed 28°C (80°F)
then the fruit will be softer and orange and yellow in color,
especially if there is not a lot of leaf cover.
Tomatoes love a warm and sheltered
position. They require full sun in most climates, but some light shade
is preferable in hot zones, as excessive heat can cause problems. They
also need to be protected from wind and frost.
For most people's needs
seedlings is more controlled as you know just how many plants you are
going to need for your own consumption. For any small family having
more than 5 plants of a well-cropping variety would be wasteful unless
you intended to make tomato sauce or freeze the bumper crop.
If you have a small family 4 tomato
more than enough. If, on the other hand you want to grow tomatoes for jam,
canning, sauces, pastes, juicing
etc., then you will probably need about 10 - 12 plants.
If you are growing tomatoes
organically, make sure that you have bought organic seed, free of
and Heirloom Varieties for Growing
There are 2 different varieties of
tomatoes which will give you different cropping results and which will
either need staking or not, depending on what you have chosen to plant.
These are small, compact plants that
grow in bushes that don't need staking. Because they set their fruit at
roughly the same time, cropping time is fairly short, and these
varieties are excellent for canning.
These grow to quite some height and
definitely need some form of staking, using either wire cages or bamboo
tee-pees. This variety is long cropping, with the fruit setting over a
long period of time, stopped only by the early autumn frosts. They
mature later than the determinate type and the yields are heavier.
For those of you who want to know how
to grow heirloom tomatoes these are varieties that have stood the test
of time and are the old fashioned varieties that are not always perfect
in shape, but have masses of flavor. Heirlooms are open-pollinated and
come in all sorts of colors.
The most interesting of them all, and one
of my favorites is the Black
Russian Heirloom Tomato from a looks perspective. Brandywine is
another heirloom variety that is pinkish red in color and has a very
Growing Tomatoes and Where
Tomatoes will need at least 8 hours of
full sun a day to set and fruit. However, you will also be amazed at
how other plants can affect the way your tomatoes will develop.
Gardening Tips for Growing Tomatoes
Never plant tomatoes within a 50 foot
radius of any walnut trees. The walnut tree leaves contain a toxin that
is deadly to tomatoes and they will wilt and die. This happens when it
rains and the chemical is washed off the leaves and onto the soil.
Never plant your tomatoes near beets.
Beet leaf-hoppers can carry a virus called curly top to your tomatoes.
Never plant your tomatoes near
brassicas or carrots. Brassicas and carrots will inhibit your tomatoes'
growth and they will not do well.
Good plants for Companion
Planting with tomatoes are marigolds, basil,
garlic, chives, asparagus and parsley.
Growing Tomatoes from Seeds
Growing Tomatoes from Seeds
You can plant tomato
directly in your beds, or into a seed box. You will need to make little
drills or rows about 5 mm deep and about 35 mm apart. This can be done
with the edge of a straight piece of wood being pressed into the soil
at the correct depth and spacings.
The tomato seeds should now be placed
carefully in the depressions making sure that you are not planting too
many seeds per row. Once you have finished, you will need to cover the
drills with either some more sterilized soil, river sand or
vermiculite. Firm it down lightly and water the seed bed with a fine
spray making sure that the soil is well dampened.
Initially place in a shady location.
If you are starting your seeds off in the beds you can cover the soil
with sheets of newspaper and keep this and the soil underneath it
As the tomato plants begin to emerge, remove the paper. For
that you have planted in seed boxes, you can harden them off by
exposing them to more and more sunlight before it is time to transplant
Growing Tomatoes and Transplanting Tomato Plants
Most tomato plants are ready to be
transplanted when they are about 75 - 100 mm in heights and usually
between 4 and 8 weeks old.
Reduce watering your seedlings 10 days
before transplanting. I am not saying don't water them, what I am
saying is just don't water them as much as you have been doing so in
the past. If the weather is very hot, then your reduction of water
should really be over 5 days.
The last 2 days water should be withheld
completely. However, on the day that you are going to plant them out,
you should water them thoroughly 6 - 12 hours before hand. Make sure
that where you are going to transplant them to has also been well
Transplanting tomato plants and
shielding them from the sun.
The best time to transplant your
seedlings is late afternoon, early evening when the heat of the sun has
gone. This then allows your plants the night to re-establish themselves
before the next day.
Choose your seedling wisely. Although
you will be tempted to plant them all out, only choose those that are
strong, and discard the others. Lift your seedlings out of the seed box
with a garden trowel and lay them at the recommended intervals given to
you on the original seed packet.
Dig a small hole and carefully place
the seedling inside. When transplanting tomato seedlings always plant
them with the first set of leaves below the soil line. Your plant will
send out roots from the buried stem which will encourage a strong root
system. Firm the seedling gently by pressing down around the stem. When
you have finished, water the transplants well.
Know the spacing conditions for the
type of variety you have planted. Some, like cherry tomatoes can be
planted as close as 18-24 inches away from each other. However, larger
varieties may need up to 3 feet and more in space.
How to Increase a Tomato Crop
As your plants grow you will need to
remove the side shoots to increase cropping. This is done by removing
the shoot that develops between the leaf and the stem. Remove this
gently with your thumb and forefinger. Watering and regular feeding
will result in a bumper crop.
In the heat of the summer when the air is still it may mean
that your tomato plants are not being pollinated, even though the
flowers are open. Go through your tomato plants and give them a gentle
shake. This will help pollinate your tomato plants, and in turn
increase your tomato crop. But be very gentle as tomato stalk are very
fragile and break easily.
Growing Tomatoes and Feeding your Tomato Plants
Tomatoes are heavy feeders and so
they should be fed when the first fruits are about to set - say 4 - 5
weeks after transplanting. Give them an application of organic liquid
manure every two weeks.
This is another tip for your plants.
Not only do tomatoes love this but roses and green peppers do too - mix
1 tablespoon of Epsom salts to 1 gallon of water. Spray it on your
plants when they start to flower.
Growing Tomatoes and Mulching your Tomato Plants
After a couple of weeks of
transplanting you can mulch your plants with a dressing of compost.
This will not only keep the moisture in your soil and discourage the
growth of weeds, but it will also give the plant added nutrients which
is far more beneficial than other mulches like grass clippings or straw.
Growing Tomatoes and Staking your Tomato Plants
Some tomato cultivars will benefit from
staking, especially those that are indeterminate types or vine
tomatoes. However, staking is easy. Just get yourself a cane, such as
bamboo and place it close to the stem of the plant and push down into
the soil. If your plants are large you can cut up lengths of 2x2 which
will give your plants better support.
Tie the plant to the stake with either
strips of old cloth, old stockings, scooby-doo wire or raffia. Purists
will want to prune the plant into a single stem which will reduce your
crop. I don't bother. I just make sure that the plant is upright and
well-supported with more access to the sun, which it wouldn't have had
if it were lying on the ground. Staking also makes harvesting your
crops a lot easier.
Here is an example of staking tomato plants.
Note the companion
planting of planting the tomatoes with the marigolds to protect the
nematodes. There is also an old CD strung on string to protect the
tomatoes from the birds.
Harvesting your Tomato Plants
can harvest tomatoes at any time of ripeness and for those who find
that they still have a glut of green tomatoes that haven't ripened yet
and the frosts are coming, pick them. There are many things that you
can do with green tomatoes; fried green tomatoes, chow chow and you can
make a green tomato pie filling out of them.
Pick your tomatoes
early in the morning on hot days and pick them underripe on hot sunny
days. This is because on hot days the heat can cause the sugar in their
tomatoes to become starchy. When you have harvested them bring them
indoors and ripen them not on window sills as they don't like the
light. Rather ripen them by wraping them in newsprint and place them in
paper bags. Place in a cool spot and check on them often.
you have picked ripe tomatoes from the vines keep them out of the
fridge. Research has shown that even 40 minutes of refridgeration can
spoil both the texture and flavor.
Diseases when Growing Tomatoes
Blossom-end Rot is
largely caused by a lack of calcium in the soil, erratic watering
habits, temperature extremes and root damage.
One can help minimize the
effects of blossom-end rot by mulching the plants to keep moisture in
the soil, and
spraying with a seaweed extract will boost your plants.
An example of
causes yellowing and wilting of leaves, especially older ones. In some
plants the leaves may even curl up. Prevent future infections by
sterilizing all gardening tools, clean up garden debris and buy
wilt-resistant varieties and practice crop rotation.
Smoking or handling
tobacco and then
working with your tomatoes can help spread Tobacco Mosaic
Virus in susceptible plants. Leaves show yellow, white and
green patches and puckers along the vein. Make sure that you wash your
hands well after using tobacco products or have been with tobacco
Growing Tomatoes Upside Down
Growing tomatoes upside down has become
the latest in growing tomatoes in small spaces, and it also has a
number of other benefits as well.
First of all, you can prevent your
tomatoes from going rotten from soil contact, you can protect them from
cutworm and other little beasties that will attack your tomatoes, there
is no weeding involved, nor do you have to bend down to pick the crop!
So how do you grow tomatoes upside down
exactly? Well, some people modify plastic buckets to plant their
tomatoes upside down, or you can get a purpose-made upside down plant
grower, that makes things very easy. Just how easy? See for yourself in
the video below. Growing tomatoes upside down just became a
Buy your own Upsidedown
Tomato Growing Bags
Click on each of the pictures for prices and details.
Gardening Video on Growing Tomatoes Upside Down
Growing Tomatoes in Containers
Growing tomatoes in containers is easy enough to do as long as you
remember to water them on a regular basis.
A 6 inch pot should be large enough to grow a tomato plant, but I
usually like to plant them in larger containers. Look for the miniature
varieties of tomatoes to grow in containers such as "Tiny Tim" and
Make your Own Container Gardening Soil for your Tomato Plants:
To make your own container
gardening soil by mixing:
In addition to your organic material,
you can add the following to every 8 liters of soil:
coffee grounds (rinse
shells (dried and
crushed to powder)
To get air into your soil and to make
it lighter, add some Perlite. 1/3 of the volume should be made
up with Perlite. Don't add too much as it
is a water-repellent, and unless you add extra peat moss, you will find
that your soil will dry out quicker than you want.
Finally, add a good handful
blood and bone to give the tomatoes a good start in their containers.
am also a fan of
poultry manure more than any other for vegetables because of its high
nitrogen content. Just make sure that it is not fresh, as it will burn
the roots of your tomatoes.
Even though the tomato plants
are small, they may still need to be staked to support the fruit. Also
make sure that the plants get sun from all sides.
Growing Tomatoes in Hanging Baskets
As you can see, you can also grow tomatoes in
As you know, tomatoes grow
well upside down, and by growing your tomatoes in haning baskets, you
are getting the best of both worlds; growing tomatoes in containers and
growing tomatoes upside down!
Where the hanging basket has
been placed here outside the door is perfect because when you have to
walk past the baskets every day you won't forget to water it.
Lack of water, or
inconsistently watering is the number one enemy of growing vegetables
in containers because people often forget and then lose their vegetable
very quickly as a result.
Growing tomatoes in
Growing Tomatoes Indoors
Growing Tomatoes Indoors
Although traditionally, tomatoes are
grown outdoors as an annual, it is actually a perennial that will grow
for several years indoors, if well looked after.
can either grow your tomatoes under lights, or follow good strong light
around a room. Never put your plants in direct sunlight in front of
glass as you can end up burning the leaves.
For growing tomatoes indoors choose a determinate type,
or even small cherry tomato plants are ideal. I say this because when
you grow indeterminate tomatoes you will need to have a lot of space
Indeterminate tomatoes will have a root system as
long as the plant is tall. So if your plant is 4 feet high, you will
need a container 4 and half feet deep at least for the roots to grow
Determinates will grow to a certain height, and then
stop growing while the fruit sets and ripens. Fireball, Urbana and
Sioux are good varieties to grow indoors. If you are looking for dwarf
tomatoes, then you should try Tiny Tim.
determinate tomatoes need space to grow, and you would need a 10 gallon
container that should be as wide, as it is deep. Make sure that you
have a slightly acidic, sandy soil, with a good handful of blood and
bone as a slow release fertilizer. Tomatoes like a pH of 6-7.
giving them light make sure that within a 24 hour period your plants
are exposed to at least 9 hours of light a day, and making sure too
that they have at least 7 hours of darkness. If you don't get this
right, your tomatoes will fail miserably. If the light
is too dark then you will end up with spindly specimens that are
struggling to find light, as can be seen in the picture above.
the secret to growing good tomatoes, either indoors or outdoors is
phosphorus. Make sure that you don't give your tomatoes too much
nitrogen as this will give you too many leaves and very few tomatoes.
Once the flowers start to
appear, give the plants a little shake every now and then to make sure
that the flowers are pollinated.
make sure that when growing tomatoes indoors your room temperature is
not too hot or cold. 68 degrees F. is ideal, but if it drops to 32
degrees F. or lower your tomato plants will die.
Growing Tomatoes and Recommended Cultivars
Throughout the world there are
thousands of cultivars and strains of tomatoes.
I prefer the heirloom
tomatoes, however, there are also others that are well trusted such as Ox
and Ponderosa for their large size and meatiness.
The Beefsteak tomato is an heirloom and belongs to
these large varieties.
However, the plants are not heavy
yielders and the fruits are often of poor shape because of their
susceptibility to several physiological disorders.
The plum tomatoes are elongated and are
excellent tomatoes for canning and making sauce. The Roma
tomato is a well known Italian variety for this. They are usually
wilt-resistant and are heavy fruiters making them very popular with
homesteaders. The Reggae is the highest yielding
and needs staking. The San Marzano is an ideal
variety for growing in pots, and is self-supporting.
Cherry tomatoes are very popular as
they make a lovely addition to salads.
The are a smaller variety and
sometimes more sour than their bigger cousins.
However, there is a
variety of cherry tomato called 'Sweet Bite' that
is a vigorous
grower that fruits abundantly and is sweet in taste.
It is a tall
variety that will need staking.
The Early Girl tomato is popular with
home gardeners because of its early fruit ripening. It is known as a
globe tomato due to the fact that it is fairly round and smooth, unlike
the beefsteak varieties.
Globe tomatoes are tall growing and
needs support as the
plant grows. Plants are reliable and prolific with fruit of a bright
color and good flavor.
Time from setting out transplants to
is about 52 days - compared to as long as 80 days for beefsteak types.
'Early Girl' also is an indeterminate variety, so it keeps producing
all season long.
Heirloom Tomatoes - Black Russian
My favorite heirloom tomato is the
With its dark fruit it looks great in a
salad and has an
excellent sweet taste with spicy and smoky undertones that are enhanced
The flavors really are deliciously intense and the other
great thing about this variety is that it is resistant to most
diseases, fruits early and is a heavy producer. What more could you
want in a tomato?
What to do with Tomatoes?
people grow tomatoes, if nothing else in their vegetable gardens, but
then after they have harvested them all, they wonder how they are going
to get through them.
Tomatoes are very useful in salads, soups,
stews, or just eating on the run. Due to its high acid content,
tomatoes can be used to make tender even the toughest cuts of meat.
I love eating tomatoes anyway I can, but best of all if I can tomatoes then I can have them all through the year.
Here is a Quick and Easy Canning Recipe for Tomatoes:
Slice the fruit in halves or quarters and stuff them into your 2 lb
Kilner jars. Fill up with plain cold water, leaving a 1/2 inch
headspace, screw the lids on tight but then give a small quarter turn
back to allow for some expansion.
Place jars in a large pot, making sure that they are not touching and
fill the pot with enough water to fill up to the necks of the jars.
Set the heat low enough to take 90 minutes to bring them to 190 degrees
F. and then leave them at this temperature for 15 minutes. Take the
jars out and place them on the counter top covered with a tea towel to
cool down. Tighten lids on jars and store in a dark cupboard to prevent
light from destroying the Vitamin C content.
Tomatoes canned by this method will last up to 3 years.
BEST SELLING GARDENING BOOKS ON HOW TO GROW
Leave a Comment
Do you have anything that you would like to add after reading this page? We would love to hear your thoughts. If you can add additional information to what has been written here you will be adding value to the website! No need to have any special skills - just type and submit. We will do the rest!
miss out on our latest news and articles. Sign up for our free monthly