Growing tomatoes in pots can be enjoyable and rewarding. We bring to you the best grow tomatoes tips so you can begin cultivating tomatoes from your home’s comfort.
Table of Contents
What Materials and Tools Are Need to Grow Tomatoes?
For the easiest and most convenient experience, we recommend using tomato starter kits. While you can technically dry and plant seeds from tomatoes you buy from the market, the germination rates vary, and you may end up with less viable crops. Seeds sold commercially are pre-selected from robust or strong cultivars, so they stand a higher chance of growing to full maturity until the fruiting stage.
The best kind of soil for potted tomatoes is moist and fertile loam soil. While tomato plants tend to be hardy and can even grow in soil under cracked concrete in some cases, it’s best to plant them in ideal soil. Ensure proper access to warm sunlight as tomato plants are sun-loving plants. Also, ensure that your pots drain properly because poorly aerated soil with a lot of moisture can easily kill or stunt tomato plants.
You don’t need a lot of specialty gardening tools to get started. You need a pump sprayer (for applying fertilizer and other chemicals), a garden trowel, some tomato cages, and a pair of garden gloves to handle the plants and soil during transplantation. Don’t forget to get a tiller cultivator. A tiller cultivator is handy for breaking up soil, especially during early spring or after the final frost, where the soil is still cold and comes out in harder chunks.
When to Grow Tomatoes?
Tomatoes must always be started indoors. Use seed-starting trays that have specially devised media to encourage germinating seeds. Germinating media also retain moisture better, but at the right level only to prevent seeds from rotting.
Regular pots can also be used for germinating tomatoes if you dislike using trays. We recommend trays because they’re easy to position in customized racks, and you can control the amount of heat and light from LED grow lights when your trays are lined up nicely.
The USDA recommends that you plant tomatoes in early January if you live in either zone eight or zone nine. If you live in zone three or four, wait until it is mid-March before planting. Early April is also ideal for the two zones mentioned.
Determine the last date of frost in your city and plant two weeks after that date. Do not immediately start your tomatoes as the average daytime and nighttime temperatures may fluctuate to below the ideal range for germinating tomatoes.
How to Grow Tomatoes?
The best way to grow tomatoes is to germinate them indoors. Start with a standard germination tray. Add some start soil and press seeds about a quarter of an inch into the soil. Do not pour water into the spaces of the tray.
Use your spray to mist the surface of the soil only lightly. Germination requires seventy to eight degrees Fahrenheit or twenty-one to twenty-seven degrees Celsius. To further ensure that your seeds will germinate and survive, you may opt to use a heating mat, especially if you live in a cooler city.
Position your tray near a window facing the southeast. Again, tomatoes are naturally sun-loving plants, and because of this, you will need to provide a minimum of 6 hours of sun exposure to encourage your seeds to germinate.
If this isn’t possible, we recommend investing in LED grow lights that pack enough power for plants like tomatoes. Alternatively, you may also use three large fluorescent bulbs. These will have to be hung just three inches above the surface of the germination soil.
Add some water-soluble fertilizer to the soil every two weeks from the start of the germination period.
Hardening the germinated tomato seedlings can be done when the outside temperature has attained a daily average of at least fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit or twelve degrees Celsius. Hold off hardening until the temperature begins to climb, or you may end up killing your seedlings.
When to Harvest Tomatoes?
You can determine the harvest period by noting the date you planted the tomatoes in their pots. If you want to harvest as soon as possible, select a short-season variety of seeds.
Short season varieties include red cherry tomatoes, Sungold tomatoes, and Sub-Arctic Plenty tomatoes. SAP tomatoes require just fifty days for maturity and harvesting. Red cherry tomatoes need at least fifty-five days. Sungold tomatoes often take the longest at a minimum of fifty-seven days of maturing before harvest.
For those who don’t mind waiting a bit more for their harvest, there is always the Green Zebra variant and the Yellow Pear variant. Both of these cultivars require at least seventy-eight days. The longest to mature is the Brandywine tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes. This is a prime example of a late-season crop that reaches its best state for harvesting after one hundred days of maturation.
Tomato Growing Tips
- During hardening, transplant the seedling to their final growing pots three to four inches apart.
- Remember that tomato plants need well-drained soil, so check the pots that you are going to use.
- During transplantation, make sure that only the topmost leaves of the tomato seedlings are visible. The rest of the small plants should be underground.
- The lower leaves of germinated seedlings should not be removed. In the right conditions, these lower leaves will develop a root system for the growing tomato plant.
- Tamp the soil properly after transplanting the seedlings and water well.
- Matura tomato plants can grow up to twelve inches or more upon maturity.
- Tomatoes will require an average of three inches of mulch for deal results. When the soil has become relatively dry to about two inches, it’s time water heavily again. Do not allow your tomato plant to dry out.
- You can help fertilize the soil by using compost tea. However, limit the application of compost tea to one to two cups every fourteen days only.