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Friday, December 17, 2010

Ehows Entry On Growing Tomatoes Indoors: The Winner Is?

Okay this is from Ehow. Here is the original link

I figure three sources are enough to fumble my way through it. Hopefully, you may decided to try it too. It mentions the electric toothbrush at the base and states a shake of the stem will work. It suggests a 5 gallon pot versus the 6 inch pot in another article. Time to develop my strategy. The winner... me of course. I now have something to do. Im sure insects and diseases will be an issue. I'll have to read up on that too.
Here is the written entry text from the linked article.

First, decide where you will grow your tomatoes. You'll need an area that is away from traffic, but easy to get to. Perhaps a corner in a utility room, a heated garage or basement; any of these will be fine. A table makes it easier, but is not a requirement. Ideally, a table that is about waist high will allow you to access your plants without having to bend over, but as long as the floor isn't too cold, the floor will work.

The tomatoes have two important requirements: light and temperatures. You will almost certainly need a grow-light setup. Some people report success using a sunny window, but I have not had luck doing this due to short days in winter. Grow lights don't have to be expensive. I use cheap shop lights with plant light tubes. A basic setup with one shop light, two pieces of chain, and two light tubes (marked plant and aquarium light) can be found for about $15 to $20 at a discount or home improvement store.

Since I use an unfinished area in the basement, I am able to easily hang the lights from beams in the ceiling. I use metal chains, so that I may adjust the height of the light as needed.

The other consideration is temperature. You will need to grow your plants in a heated area, such as heated basement or heated garage. Ideally, tomatoes need temperatures in the 70s during the day and upper 60s at night. Anything cooler will cause the tomatoes to grow poorly.

Next, you will need to choose your seeds. Your local nursery may have seed packets for sale, but if they don't, plenty of online seed stores will have many varieties to choose from. Beginners will have more success by choosing a tomato variety that grows a compact plant: look for tomato seeds that say patio or container in their descriptions. As you get more experienced, you might want to try other varieties, but you will need bigger pots!

Germinate your seeds in a small pot with seed starter mix. Peat pots are ideal, because they can be transplanted without disturbing the roots. Keep the mix lightly moist, but not soggy. Put two or three seeds in each pot. They should germinate in about a week.

Turn your grow lights on for about 12-14 hours a day. An inexpensive timer can make this much easier. The lights should be about an inch from the top of the plant, and raised as it grows taller.

When the seedlings are three inches tall, they should be transplanted into large containers. The minimum size should be five gallon pots, but bigger is better, to leave more room for roots to grow. Fill the pot with new potting soil and carefully transplant the seedlings into the larger pot. If you've started with a peat pot, simply make a hole in the soil of the large pot, place the entire peat pot into the hole, and carefully spread soil to fill the hole and cover the top of the transplanted peat pot. If the transplants are in a plastic pot, carefully turn the pot upside down, cradling the top in your hand, and lightly tap the bottom of the pot with your free hand. This should dislodge the soil and seedlings into your hand. Very carefully plant the ball of soil into the new pot as above.

If more than one seedling has sprouted in each pot, you will need to thin them out. Pull out the smallest seedlings and discard. Leave one seedling per large pot. Carefully place your stake or dowel rod into the soil, but be careful to keep it a couple of inches away from your new plant. The roots are very delicate at this time.

Begin fertilizing the plants when you transplant into the new, larger pot. I like to use liquid seaweed, especially at transplant time, because it adds a number of micro nutrients and promotes healthy plants. Since I am an organic gardener, I only use organic products, but any all-purpose fertilizer will work. Use it at half the strength the directions recommend. I highly recommend using the liquid seaweed in addition to any fertilizer. Maxicrop and Neptune are two excellent brands.

Water the plants thoroughly, but not too often. Keep an eye on your plants, and at any sign of distress, give them water and liquid seaweed. But be careful not to over water - too much water is as bad as too little. Allow the soil to dry out before watering again. Each home is different depending on temperature and humidity levels, as well as air flow. As you gain experience, you will be able to know water requirements simply by touching the soil. A container with a catch pan underneath will help drain excess water.

As the plants begin to grow, watch to make sure they are not getting "leggy." If they are, you probably need to lower the grow lights.

When the plants begin to grow yellow blooms (which will turn into tomatoes), it's time to start giving it some phosphorus. Scratch a little bone meal into the top of the soil. This will promote the growth of healthy fruits.

The flowers need to be pollinated. Some growers use fancy techniques to simulate the buzzing of pollinating bees by placing an electric toothbrush near the blooms. I have found it is a lot easier - and just as effective - to give the plant a light shake. Carefully grab the main stem in your hand and shake the plant gently a few times. Do this about once a week or so, as long as the plant is producing blooms.

At some point the plant will need some support. Hopefully you have already placed a small trellis or stake into the pot, and all that's needed is to attach stems to the stake to provide support. Old pieces of pantyhose work well, or you can use the green velcro garden tape that is designed for this purpose. You will need to occasionally rearrange the support areas as the plant grows.

Now all that's left is to wait for the tomatoes to ripen! Eat and enjoy.