Growing some tomatoes in your small apartment or balcony doesn’t fulfill your stomach rather satisfies your heart.
It’s easy and fun!!!
Your fresh homegrown fruits will remind the real teste of tomatoes you’ve almost forgotten.
So, don’t waste your time by overthinking. 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, I recommend you to skip some avoidable job which will make easier your startup. Moreover, these tiny 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:
Containers: You can grow tomatoes in 3-5 lb container or 6 inches’ pot. However, it mainly depends on varieties, but I recommend you to pick 3-5-gallon container to get the best output.
Determinate varieties need smaller containers whereas indeterminate tomato varieties may need larger containers.
Lightweight potting mix: You need to buy premium quality lightweight potting mix from garden centers or online. It will cost you a little bit but protect your plants from unwanted soil-borne diseases.
Make sure 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 teaspoon of baking soda into your potting mix to produce sweeter fruits.
Healthy seedlings: Collect disease free healthy seedlings from a local nursery which are ready to transplant right away.
Watering system: Potting tomatoes need frequent watering. The easiest way to watering your plants using watering cone or spikes.
Soil scoop: It helps to manage the soil easily.
Hand gloves: This is not mandatory if you want to make your hand dirty.
Stakes: It helps to grow the plants without hurdles and go straight.
Fluorescent light: You need to provide extra lighting for your windowsill or indoor tomatoes while 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 apartment:
Step 1: Place selection
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 just need to confirm the selected place receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight and enough air flow. It would be more helpful if the place faces west or south.
You can also be hanging up your tomatoes in your balcony to let the plants upside down but we suggest you follow the conventional way as a beginner.
Step 2: Select Varieties
I recommend determinate type 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 quality disease free seedlings. Before buy 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.
. . . . . .. Take a deep breath first and be cool.
Buy some plastic peat pot form the garden store or nursery and fill them up 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 sprayer regularly and keep the room temperature between 68° to 75° F (20-24° C) until germination.
Waterless frequent 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 of diameters.
Most of the dwarf or bushy tomato varieties can grow up in these size 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 the same way you do to your homegrown seedling.
After transplanting, water the plants twice in a day if required to set them in the new container up to 10 days.
Potting tomatoes need regular watering after successful transplants.
*** To get tomatoes all the 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 is quite difficult to manage it after a busy schedule of your day job.
There has plenty of ways you can water your tomatoes. I don’t want you to confuse with so many options.
In particular, I suggest you collect watering cone or spikes to make the job easier.
- Take a plastic bottle and pour some water in it 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 pushing your finger inside the soil before watering.
- Never water your plants after evening.
- Place a plastic tray underneath each container to hold the water drips and soil.
Once your plants blooming and start setting fruits, apply 5-10-10 (NPK) ratio liquid fertilizer to get a healthy harvest.
Mix two teaspoon of fertilizer into one gallon of water and apply one cup of the solution for each plant.
Apply them every one or two weeks later through the watering spikes.
Using grow lights:
During winter you need to provide 16-18 hours of light to vegetate the tomato plants indoors. To do this work properly, keep them under two or three fluorescent light.
Besides, your seedlings also need warm condition at the very beginning. Young seedlings don’t tolerate the direct sunlight.
If your place doesn’t get enough sunlight you should also provide some supplemental lights to the plants.
Stake your tomatoes to get extra support when setting fruits. Set 1/4″ x 24″ dowel rod for each plant.
Turn round your tomato pots occasionally so that all the side of your plants can receive the direct sunlight.
Pick the ripen fruits every day to lessen the burden to the plants 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 brought 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 better withstand shipping.
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 a little bit costly but easy. Once you start, it will become a habit of yours to grow tasty and juicy tomatoes for the next season.
You can reduce your cost if give some extra time and labor on it. And I believe, you will do it when you miss the taste of your own grown tomatoes.
Happy tomato gardening.
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