Updated: November 23, 2022
Growing some tomatoes in your small apartment or balcony doesn’t fulfill your stomach; instead satisfies your heart.
It’s easy and fun!!!
Your fresh homegrown fruits will remind the real taste of tomatoes you’ve almost forgotten.
So, use your time wisely. Take a piece of paper and write down the to-do list to start growing tomatoes in your tiny apartment or balcony.
Things you will need for growing tomatoes in apartments
As a beginner tomato grower, skip some avoidable jobs which will make your startup easier. Moreover, these little works may kill your interest in the beginning.
Here is the list of necessary things you need to collect from the gardening store at the very beginning:
You can grow tomatoes in a 3-5 lb container or 6 inches pot. However, it mainly depends on varieties, but I recommend you pick a 3-5-gallon container to get the best output. .
Determinate varieties need smaller containers. Whereas indeterminate tomato varieties may need larger containers.
Learn more about the best container size for tomatoes.
Lightweight potting mix:
You must buy a premium quality light potting mix from garden centers or online. It will cost you little, but it protects plants from unwanted soil-borne diseases.
Ensure your potting mix contains coco peat or peat moss, quality compost, vermiculite, perlite, necessary nutrients for tomatoes, organic components, and other additives.
In addition, you can add 1-2 teaspoons of baking soda into your potting mix to produce sweeter fruits.
Collect disease-free healthy seedlings from a local nursery ready to transplant immediately.
Potting tomatoes needs frequent watering. The easiest way to water your plants is using a watering cone or spikes.
It helps to manage the soil easily.
This is not mandatory if you want to dirty your hand.
It helps to grow the plants without hurdles and go straight.
You must provide extra lighting for your windowsill or indoor tomatoes if they don’t get at least 6 hours of direct sunlight.
Moreover, you need to provide at least 16 hours of light during winter for indoor tomatoes.
How to start growing tomatoes in an apartment:
Step 1: Select the Place
Picking the right place is very important for growing tomatoes. It may be your apartment windowsill or balcony.
No matter where the place is, you must confirm that the selected site receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight and enough airflow. Again, it would be more helpful if the place faces west or south.
You can also hang your tomatoes on your balcony to let the plants upside down. Still, we suggest you follow the conventional way as a beginner.
Step 2: Select Varieties
I recommend determinate tomatoes like dwarf, patio, or bushier varieties for your apartment containers. Ornamental tomatoes are another choice for your balconies or windowsill.
Go to your local garden centers or nurseries to collect good, disease-free seedlings.
Before buying the seedlings, confirm they are spotless, and leaves are not pruned. If found, don’t buy those seedlings.
If the seedlings are not available, you are looking for, don’t be freaked.
Buy some plastic peat pots from the garden store or nursery and fill them with the premium quality potting mix. Then sow a couple of seeds 1/4-inch-deep into the soil for each pot and let them 7-15 days to germinate.
Water them with a sprayer regularly and keep the room temperature between 68° to 75° F (20-24° C) until germination.
Water less frequently after sprouting the seeds. In that case, check them twice a day and water them when required.
The seedling will be ready to transplant after 4-6 weeks when they become 8-10 inches tall.
Step 3: Transplanting in large containers
Plant varieties determine the container size. Nevertheless, you can start with 3-5-gallon containers, which are 10-14 inches deep with 16-26 inches in diameter.
Most of the dwarf or bushy tomato varieties can grow up in these sizes of containers. Drill some holes at the bottom of the pots to drain the clogged water.
Fill up the container with a high-quality potting mix. Put some water in the mix to moisten it before transplanting.
Carefully separate your transplants from the small plastic peat pot, and place them into larger pots with the soil stick to the plant roots.
Transplant your nursery brought seedlings as you do to your homegrown seedling.
After transplanting, water the plants twice a day if required to set them in the new container for up to 10 days.
Potting tomatoes need regular watering after successful transplants.
*** To get tomatoes all year round, sow and transplant 2-3 seedlings every two weeks later.
Step 4: Tomato Care
This is the tricky part of your apartment-grown tomatoes. Potting tomatoes need regular watering due to less water-holding capacity.
But it isn’t easy to manage it after a busy schedule of your day job.
There has plenty of ways you can water your tomatoes. However, it would help if you needed to distinguish yourself from many options.
In particular, collect watering cones or spikes to make the job easier.
- Take a plastic bottle and pour water according to your container size. Replace its cap with the cone and push it into the container soil; done!!
- Do it every morning, as if the plants can drink it before evening.
- Check the soil moisture by pushing your finger inside the soil before watering.
- Wait to water your plants after the evening.
- Place a plastic tray underneath each container to hold the water drips and soil.
Once your plants bloom and start setting fruits, apply 5-10-10 (NPK) ratio liquid fertilizer to get a healthy harvest.
Mix two teaspoons of fertilizer into one gallon of water and apply one cup of the solution to each plant.
Apply them every one or two weeks later through the watering spikes.
Using grow lights:
During winter, you must provide 16-18 hours of light to vegetate the tomato plants indoors. Keep them under two or three fluorescent lights to do this work properly.
Besides, your seedlings also need warm conditions at the very beginning. Young seedlings don’t tolerate direct sunlight.
If your place doesn’t get enough sunlight, you should provide some supplemental lights to the plants.
Stake your tomatoes to get extra support when setting fruits. Set 1/4″ × 24″ dowel rod for each plant.
Turn round your tomato pots occasionally so that all the sides of your plants can receive direct sunlight.
Pick the ripened fruits daily to lessen the plants’ burden and produce more.
Reuse the potting mix:
Determinate tomato varieties set up a branch of fruits all at once and become unproductive.
In that case, cut the plants off at the base and prepare your potting mix, adding some balanced nutrients 10-10-10 (NPK) ratio for the next transplant.
Which tomato varieties would be the best for my apartment?
Your locally grown tomato varieties would be the best for your apartment. In addition, you can try Micro-Tom, Red Robin, Pixie, Patio, Toy Boy, Tiny Tim, Small Fry, or Totem varieties.
Difference between store-bought tomatoes and homegrown tomatoes:
Taste, flavor, texture, and color are the key differences between store brought and homegrown tomatoes:
Due to a huge demand throughout the year, store-brought tomatoes are picked up earlier at the matured green stages to withstand shipping better.
They have ripened artificially by using a natural plant hormone called ethylene. Moreover, they contain slightly less amount of beta-carotene.
The method I’ve explained above for growing tomatoes in your apartment is costly but easy. Once you start, it will become your habit to grow tasty and juicy tomatoes for the next season.
You can reduce your cost if you give extra time and labor. And you will do it when you miss the taste of your grown tomatoes.
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