How to Grow Tomatoes in Apartment or Small Backyard

How to Grow Tomatoes in Your Garden, step by step guide

The most famous and favorite vegetable in many countries is, of course, tomato. This is a permanent resident of almost every household. Tomatoes are annual plants and are planted on beds in the form of seedlings.


You may be surprised but many experienced gardeners in preparation for the growing seedlings are using the lunar calendar.  Planting tomatoes on seedlings should be done according to all the rules. Depend on where are you leaving and your weather conditions, some of you may plant tomatoes from seeds some of you will need pre-grow seedlings at home. So, for the beginning of the summer season, everyone will have strong, well-formed tomato sprouts with a powerful root system in their boxes, completely ready for planting in the open ground. And if you want to grow large seedlings, be sure to check to the devices of this article.

1. Choosing the right tomato seeds

An important role in the preparation stage for growing tomato seedlings is the right choice of seeds. Nowadays, the Internet, catalogs, and stores have a huge selection of different seeds. There are also people who prepare them by themselves. The main thing in order to choose the right seeds is to determine the purpose of cultivation, the period of maturation, the place of planting seedlings, climatic conditions, and the state of the soil. While choosing the seeds, pay attention to proven manufacturers, expiration dates, and the date of seed collection. It will be good if the tomato seeds were harvested last year. Keep in mind that the guaranteed germination of seeds, declared by the manufacturer, is lower by 10% an average. After opening the package, inspect the seeds visually. They should be the same color without damage. If you have purchased seeds of hybrid varieties, you can try to sow them immediately in the ground.

2. When to start growing tomato seeds

Depending on the climate and the territory of your location, the start date must be calculated. Take into account the climatic conditions, the selected variety, and the place of landing. For example, according to statistics, for cold places, a good start date is at the end of February for warmer places is the end of March. All information about your best start day will be indicated on the seed package, which details the dates of sowing seeds and planting seedlings under the open sky or in a greenhouse. The main thing is to protect your plants from frosts and sudden temperature changes.

time for growing seeds

3. How to prepare the soil mix for growing tomatoes and how to start

You can buy a universal soil mix for seedlings in the garden center. You can mix it with soil from your backyard. Some gardeners simply spill the soil with boiling water or a solution of potassium permanganate.

soil mix for tomato

For sowing seeds, you can use red plastic cups or something smaller. It is desirable to choose transparent cups so that you can control the watering. Do not make holes for water at the bottom, as with a small volume of soil will not have time to absorb enough water. The glass should be filled with soil, leaving at the top somewhere on the finger of free space. Make a hole 1 inch deep, plant 2 seeds, fill the hole with soil. After that, the cup should be covered with plastic wrap to avoid moisture evaporation. Put the cup in a dark place with a temperature of 78-80F. On the third or fourth day, as soon as the first sprouts appear, we transfer the crops to a cooler place with more lighting, so that the seedlings do not stretch out unnecessarily, and do not water until the top layer of soil dries up to avoid the development of fungal diseases.

red cup tomato

When there are two or three “real” leaves, transplant the tomato into a large pot. 2-3 gallons size will be enough, therefore, the more space is better. At the bottom of the pot, put little stones or pieces of foam, then put a layer of sand in 1-2 inches and a than soil mix. Lightly water the seedlings, and then carefully remove from the cup along with the clump of soil. Place the seedling in a pot, and fill the free space with soil. If more than one sprout has grown, it is better to leave the healthiest one. Sprinkle 1-2 inches of soil mix on top and pour it over. In the end, the pot should remain free 3 inches to the top edge. This will make it possible to pour soil mix into the pot as the plant grows, thereby replacing hilling.

4. How to water tomato

Depending on the “age” and time of year you will need to watering tomato differently. In the first month of life of tomatoes, the soil should be moistened often, every day or every other day. Then the plants can be watered more abundantly and less often. When tomatoes begin to bloom, and the ovary will appear, do not allow the soil to dry out. Tomato does not like high humidity. Water the plants preferably a couple of times a week, wetting the soil abundantly. For irrigation, it is better to use water at a temperature of 75-78°F do not wash out the soil under the Bush – it is enough that it is wet. It is best to water the plants in the evening. If it is necessary to water during the day, it is better to do it through the pallet. Do not water tomatoes on a Sunny day. Water should not fall on the leaves or trunk of the plant, because water droplets, like small lenses, focus the sun’s rays and plants can get burned. In particularly hot summer days or if the air at home is very dry, spraying can save you.

5. What type of light need for growing tomatoes

Tomatoes are very demanding for lighting. In order not to use artificial lighting, it is better to plant seeds in late March or early April and place the plants in the South or South — East. For even lighting, once every two days, you can turn the tomatoes with the other side to the window. On cloudy short winter days, it is simply impossible to grow lush bushes in an apartment without additional lighting. It is no secret that light is the main component of the important photosynthesis process for the plant, without which the normal growth and development of the plant do not occur. You can organize additional lighting using fluorescent lamps of white and daylight. These lamps provide sunlight-like illumination and do not generate heat. Therefore, they can be placed quite close to the plants. Also, in specialized stores, you can buy photo lamps adapted specifically for indoor growing of vegetables.

6. Organic fertilizers for growing tomatoes

For the best fruiting, it is recommended to feed the plants with organic fertilizers every two weeks. Do not use chemicals, because there is a great risk of overdoing the dosage and getting fruits full of nitrates. Organic fertilizers are provided by nature. The plants take just as many nutrients as they need, in contrast, chemical fertilizers are absorbed by the plant uncontrollably. If you overfeed tomato, then at best the plant will die, at worst (for You), the plant will become lush and beautiful but their fruits can be poisoned. Therefore, it is better to use only organic fertilizers for fruit-bearing plants. You can feed tomatoes with compost or manure. It can be prepared in advance if you have a backyard.  When the manure gets too hot, it smells quite strong. Most of the farmers agreed that the best manure is chicken manure but it smells horrible.  If you need less smell to fertilize plants you can use horse manure. When it gets too hot, it practically doesn’t smell. Mix it with water and water plants out once a week or two. Also, you can alternate fertilizing with ash. For feeding with manure, it is enough to use four tablespoons of manure in a gallon of water. For feeding with ash — two or three teaspoons of ash should be diluted in a gallon of water.

7. How to grow tomatoes

Remove side suckers

remove suckers
Further plant care certainly includes such items as removing side suckers. It will help with the formation of a bush. Their growth requires a lot of nutrients necessary for flowering and fruit formation. In order to have more fruits, “stepchildren” should be removed so that the main plant does not suffer. It is best to do this when the “stepson” has grown to a length of 1 inch. Try to break it off with your hands. Not cutting is helping to avoid infecting. In addition, it is desirable to remove yellowed damaged leaves and leaves from the bottom of the tomato.

The next step is to tie up tomato when it is needed. All varieties of tomatoes, with the small exception of low-growing ones, require to be tied-up. Otherwise, the plant may not support its own weight and it may break. If tomatoes grow on the balcony, then you need to think about where the plants will be tied up in a timely manner. When the plant reaches the desired size, it can be easily tied to this peg.
If you do not prepare in advance and do not dig a peg, then later, when the plant is already large, they can damage the roots.
You can tie it up with an old nylon stocking, or a strip of flannel rag. Only you need to do this carefully, the node should not be placed on the plant.

tied up tomato

Tomatoes do not require artificial pollination, nevertheless, for better tying, you can lightly tap the stem several times a week, shaking the flower brushes. After the main part of the fruit is formed, the top of the plant, as well as the flowering brushes, should be removed since they will not allow the already formed fruits to fully develop.

With poor ventilation, high ambient temperature, insufficient soil moisture, and poor lighting, the leaves of plants do not curl but stretch up, flowers and fruits fall off. It is necessary to frequently ventilate the room and water the plants, carefully monitor the temperature regime.

8. Here are the additional recommendations for growing best tomatoes at your garden

  • It is better to give preference to small-fruited and high-yielding hybrids. In a small area, it is difficult for the plant to feed large fruits, they will be few or they will take a long time to mature. Small fruits ripen gradually, which will provide fresh vegetables every day.
  • The right choice of seeds plays an important role. For growing in a city apartment, the most suitable are self-pollinated precocious low-growth hybrids. Nowadays, special varieties are also bred for home cultivation (in this case, the bags with seeds will indicate “suitable for growing in an apartment”).
  • In order for the seed to grow a beautiful, juicy, fruiting shrub, the plant needs to provide the appropriate temperature and the necessary amount of light. Vegetable beds should be placed on the South or South-East Windows. On short winter days, it is mandatory to add daylight to the lights.
  • Do not allow the soil to dry out. In the heat, the plant can shed flowers and ovaries. If you do not have time to monitor the soil moisture, you can arrange a “watering system”. To do this, you need to dig a plastic bottle into the ground, having previously made several holes in it. Which side to dig in depends on the size of the pot. The main thing is that there should be a funnel on the surface to fill the water. Thus, the roots will constantly receive moisture, and the top of the earth will not be covered with a crust.
  • It is enough to feed the plants once a month. During flowering, the twigs need to be shaken a little to improve pollination. For these purposes, you can use a universal fertilizer for indoor flowers or specialized growth concentrates. But it is very important not to abuse fertilizers.The rate specified in the instructions for fertilizer can not be exceeded. And it is even better to divide it into two times (it is better to feed it more often). In order not to burn the roots, the plant must first be watered with clean water, and then — with a solution of fertilizer.
  • Pots with seedlings and adult bushes must be rotated 180 degrees once a day. This is necessary so that the bushes are smooth since plants tend to bend in the direction of light. And, at the same time, it is necessary to protect plants from the scorching rays of the sun. Burns on the leaves and the crop can significantly reduce, and the appearance of the plant will spoil. To do this, you can “tint” the glass with white paper — and the room will not be so hot, and the plants will be more comfortable.
  • Do not pick tomatoes unripe. When they grow on a Bush, they become fragrant and juicy. This is what we are missing in the purchased fruit
  • Don’t make the plants compete. By planting two bushes in one pot, you can not only not increase the yield, but lose it altogether. If the extra plants have no place to transplant – it is better to throw them out altogether, and then the remaining ones will please with a generous harvest.

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