Tomatoes are one of the most fun plants to grow, not only do they grow fast but you get to eat them! To grow tomatoes you need to ensure the following major elements are correct:

  • Time of year is correct
  • Enough sunlight
  • Correct watering

There are dozens of varieties, one of my favorites is cherry tomatoes because the tomato plants don’t get too big (still fairly large at up to 3 feet).

PlantMaid in front of a tomato plant
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Bright direct full light (at least 8 hours for best growth). I’ve grown mine perfectly with just afternoon sun.
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Tomatoes are thirsty, don’t let the soil dry out for too long. You will probably need to water once a day.
Thermometer icon
18-35 C
Fertilizer: You can fertilize twice during the growing season. Premium potting mixes often come with 6 months worth of fertilizer built it.

Potting

When potting ensure you have a pot with a drainage hole, you don’t want the water to sit at the bottom of the pot and rot the roots.

When fully grown tomatoes need to be spaced apart, at least 40cm. So the easiest way it just to grow one tomato per pot, that way you don’t have to split them up into separate pots later on.

Fill a medium size pot with potting mix soil from the nursery store, avoid using garden soil for potting as it doesn’t have enough nutrients. Also don’t use soil from your last years potting as nutrients don’t usually last more than 6-12 months.

In a medium/large pot place 2 seeds in the middle of the pot under about 5mm of soil. Use 2 seeds in case one of them doesn’t germinate, if both sprout remove the weaker of the two after they are 6cm tall.

Germinating

Tomato seeds will germinate when in the presence of warmth (+- 60-80F/ 15.5C- 26C) and moisture. That’s why its best to plant in warm climate, late spring and anytime in summer.

Add some water over the seeds to wet the soil and ensure good soil to seed contact – It’s water and warmth which start the germination process. At this stage, the seeds don’t actually need light.

Setup the Plantmaid so that it will water the seeds, in the beginning you want to keep the seeds moist but not soaking wet. Check out the PlantMaid setup instructions for specifics on tomato plants.

As soon as you start to see the seeds sprout, make sure you place them in direct light.

Seedlings

Seedlings should be watered daily, the PlantMaid will automatically do this. If the soil is dry more than an inch or two below the surface then they need more water – this depends on how warm the sun is and if the soil has dried out.

Fully grown

Don’t forget as your tomato plants grow to more than 30cm you need to support them by tying them onto a stake or ladder. Support the stem every 15cm (7 inches), tie them loosely as the stems are soft and damage easily.

Harvesting

If your tomato plants have been growing well you should get tomatoes in about 8-12 weeks (2 months). You will start to see your tomatoes flower before you get fruit, remember the flowers turn into tomatoes.

Ripe tomatoes tend to attract bugs, so you can harvest your tomatoes when they are slightly green and they will continue to ripen.

Tomatoes are at peak flavour when they are full color (red or green striped), they should be slightly firm to the touch.

Watering

When water such as rain is present on the leave of tomatoes they can often spread fungal disease, it’s best to water with a drip system (such as PlantMaid). Water in the morning so that water on the surface of the soil will evaporate quickly.

Tomatoes have low watering needs, but in my experience they are quite hardy to varying amounts of water.

Once the fruit starts to ripen, ease up on the watering, allowing the plant to concentrate its sugars on the fruit for better flavour.

Bugs

If your leaves suddenly look like they are getting eaten, it’s probably caterpillars. You can look under the leaves and find the caterpillars and remove them. Caterpillars come from moths that lay their eggs in the soil or under the leaves, which then hatch about 7 days later.

Some expert tips

After planting the seeds, cover the pot with cling wrap to create a greenhouse effect and warm up the soil and seed, which will speed up germination. However once germinated, throw away the cling wrap, the seedlings need fresh air flow, otherwise, they will get brown and grey spots and die of damp diseases.

Tomatoes don’t need the sun to riper. As they ripen they emit ethylene gas, the greater the concentration around the fruit the more they ripen. Cut the slightly green tomatoes off the plant and put them in a paper bag, they need oxygen to riper so don’t seal the bag. Don’t put in the fridge they still need warmth to ripen.

Tomatoes last up to 4 weeks off the vine before they need to be eaten.

Small seedlings need to move and sway in the wind to develop strong stems. If you are growing indoors keep them near a breeze.

As your tomato plant gets about 3 feet tall, remove the oldest leaves from the bottom of the stem. These are usually the first to develop fungal problems from water splashing onto them from the ground.

Happy growing!

To read more on easiest plants to grow indoors, Check out this post