Growing tomatoes are probably one of the easiest plants to grow from seed. They don’t require much fuss. Some varieties of tomatoes ( there are around 10 000 different varieties in the world ) are quite hardy and can tolerate temperatures below 12C. Many ” smaller “varieties do very well in pots and do not grow much larger that a foot or two. Some of these dwarf varieties will keep on
growing, flowering and bearing fruit until frost or extreme cold kill them. So in essence you can have tomatoes nearly the whole year around.
Tomatoes are very versatile and are found in probably every kitchen. Some might even use tomatoes in different dishes daily. Though daily is a bit extreme for me, I use tomatoes at least four times a week in some form or way. From salads to pastas, tomatoes give the different dishes the uniqueness that just wouldn’t be there if you did not add them. I’ll list a few varieties that work well in a potted environment, that doesn’t take up lots of space, have generally good yields, and why people make such a big fuss over tomatoes. By the end of this you will be growing tomatoes from seed indoors in no time.
Why Tomatoes ?
Tomatoes contain excessive amounts of antioxidants ( Vit A & C ). These vitamins and compounds fights free radical damage in our blood cells, thus reducing cell damage. Tomatoes contain compounds called Lycopene ( also an antioxidant ) that may assist in heart health, and reduce the risk of cancer. Other compounds such as Beta-cerotene, Naringenin and Chlorogenic acid can lower blood pressure, has anti-inflammatory properties, and allow for the production of Vit A in our bodies. Potassium, VitK and Folate ( VitB9) are all found in tomatoes, these all respectively assist in blood pressure control, prevent heart disease, assists with blood clotting, help maintain good bone health, healthy cell function and tissue growth.
It is very rare that a person would be allergic to tomatoes. People with pollen and grass allergies are more likely to have some sensitivity ( or allergy ) towards tomatoes. The allergy towards tomatoes would come in the form of itching or scratchy sensation in the mouth and throat as well as a swollen mouth or throat.
Tomatoes are not poisonous, but for obvious reasons don’t eat the leaves, stems or unripe tomatoes. Consuming fast amounts of ripe tomatoes ( and I mean Kilograms and kilograms of it ) then it could be fatal. This goes for many fruit and vegetables, so please don’t be alarmed, a few tomatoes won’t do anything to you. People with stomach/gastric problems may want to avoid eating too many tomatoes as this could aggravate symptoms (such as heart burn and acid reflux).
Which Tomatoes can be Potted ?
- Bush Early Girl Hybrid – Mostly disease resistant, grows compact. It is one of the more popular varieties sold in garden centers/nurseries. Bearing small fruit within 55 – 60 days.
- Tumbler – Sweet Cherry tomatoes ( I just love them ). Works extremely well in all dishes including salads. It’s compact size is great and fast growing. Producing fruit in around 50 days.
- Better Bush Hybrid – The stems are quite sturdy, very minimal or even no stalking is required. Takes a little bit longer to grow, will only produce fruit between 70-80 days
- Sungold – Lovely yellow cherry tomatoes. Small and compact. Produces fruit between 50-60 days.
Truth be told, you can grow just about any tomato plant in a pot. The only difference is that some will require much bigger pots and can grow up to 7ft tall. I would say stick to the smaller or dwarf size tomato plants, they are much easier to handle and require less fuss.
Easy as Pie
As I mentioned before, tomatoes are probably one of the easiest plants to grow for seed. You can obtain specific varieties ( seeds) from your garden center or nursery. I have even taken fresh cherry tomatoes from the store, cut one into pieces, placed in a small container with Organic potting soil and they have all grown. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Tomatoes need well drained soil – please do not use garden soil. This will only suffocate the plant and it won’t germinate.Organic potting soil is the best to use.
- Use a small container with draining holes or a seedling tray.
- If using a seedling tray – poke no more than two holes about 1cm deep and 3cm apart.
- Sow two seeds per cell ( one in each hole ). This will increase your chances.
- Place some soil over the holes and cover the seeds, gently press down to secure the seeds.
- Use a spray bottle and water the soil. Do not over saturate the soil, this will only drown the seeds.
- Cover with a propagator lid or clear plastic and place in a warm windowsill.
- Insure you check on them daily to make sure they are still sufficiently moist.
- Once you see little sprouts appear trough the soil, remove the lid or plastic cover and place in a sunny windowsill or under grow lights. This will allow for fresh air and ventilation as well as prevent deceases.
- Once the seedlings are about 3cm tall choose the one that looks the strongest. Cut the other one or ” weakling ” at the soil line. Now you will have one seedling per cell.
- Keep watering insuring the seedling stays moist ( remember not to over water ).
- Once you see two sets of leaves appear you can start giving Organic vegetable fertilizer. ( once every 2 weeks should be good ).
- Around the 4-week mark, gently remove the seedling for the cell. You will notice the roots would have just about filled the cell by now. It is time to plant into a bigger container.
- Add a thin layer of Organic potting soil in the bottom of the container or pot and place the seedling and cover the roots.
- Don’t worry if you cover the stem – tomatoes don’t mind this at all. Roots will start forming along the stem under the soil line. Just don’t cover the leaves.
- Continue keeping soil moist ( do a finger test if needed ).
- Place and keep the plant in a sunny windowsill or under grow lights.
If you want to use fresh tomatoes cut into pieces you can follow the same method above. Don’t worry about counting the seeds. Just toss them into the soil. Once they get to about 3cm tall you can start thinning them out by cutting the ones you don’t want at the soil line.
As easy as that. No mess no fuss.
Tomato plants grow so quickly (you can almost hear them grow). The great thing is that most varieties will produce fruit with 60-70 days. Pick them straight off the plant, rinse and enjoyed.
Until next time