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When learning how to grow tomatoes, the first thing you should do is to increase your vocabulary. More specifically, learn about the most commonly used technical terms for growing tomatoes. Take a look at the examples below.
Determinate - this refers to tomatoes that grow from bush settings, with tomatoes growing mostly on the main stem; a few may grow on some of the minor vines but only after the first batch of produce
Indeterminate - this refers to tall-growing species of tomatoes, the ones that benefit most from trellising, caging, and staking; flowers appear on all vines and with tomatoes being produced throughout the season
Dwarf-Indeterminate - “Dwarf” refers to their smaller size compared to the taller indeterminate species; like indeterminate species, however, they can produce tomatoes throughout the season as well
Use a Seedling Starting Kit
There may be some sets that include a starting kit and the seedlings for the type of tomato you want to grow. A starting kit will be made up of all the equipment you need to grow your tomatoes indoors.
Cell plant tray with sixty or seventy-two cells
Seed planting cubes
Bottom watering system
Buy a seedling starting kit that has all the above. It is great if the set you purchase offers more additional tools or supplies but never buy a starting kit that misses even one essential item in the list above.
Using a seedling starting kit is optimal
not just for beginners but for all gardeners because they increase the chances of all your tomato seedlings bearing fruit. Naturally, this type of starting kit will be more expensive compared to other types. But that is fine since it also makes your job easier.
Tomatoes blossom under the strength of light so make sure they get as much light as needed. You have two ways of giving indoor-grown tomatoes light. First is to place them at any part of your home that receives a good amount of natural lighting. Second is to simply purchase a light growing system. The latter is more effective because your tomatoes receive as much light as they need even if it’s dark and raining outside.
Water and Soil
Like most plants, tomatoes thrive on being watered but not to the point of being drowned. Same goes for their soil. It is critical that you check your soil every day to make sure it is moist but not completely wet.
If you are using a commercially packaged seedling starting kit, then you would not have to worry in this score. The soil provided with your kit is typically enriched with fertilizer. But if you are growing your tomatoes all on your own and without any fancy equipment, then yes, you definitely should improve soil quality with the right fertilizers.
When your tomato plants begin growing and are now several inches tall, it is time to prepare their next homes. Soon, they will be too large enough for your planting trays to handle. If you delay too long, your plants could be damaged.
When re-potting your plants, make sure that the containers are large enough and have proper drainage holes. Do your best not to cause any damage to the plants while re-potting. Make sure as well that the seedlings are not removed from their plugs.
From Indoors to Outdoors
Regardless of whether you are using a starting kit or not, tomato gardeners are strongly encouraged to grow their seeds indoors. This is to prevent your seeds from being damaged by frost and other environmental threats. There are some places that allow for tomato harvests in winter, but those are few and far in between. In any case, it is better to just play it safe and start indoors.
Your plants have been spoiled by indoor conditions so they must be subjected to a “hardening” or adjustment stage of sorts before they are introduced to the wild and uncomfortable life of the outdoors.
The adjustment period should take ten days or so while you gradually increase their exposure to natural sunlight and decrease the amount of water they receive every day. If they survive this period, they will survive the outdoors.