Tomato cultivation in the apartment: this is how cultivation on the windowsill succeeds!

If you don’t have a garden, you don’t have to do without fresh tomatoes you grow yourself. Tomato cultivation in the apartment can easily be realized on the home windowsill. How the care looks like from sowing to the tomato harvest is explained in detail below.

Growing tomatoes in the apartment – ​​Suitable varieties of tomatoes

While tomato plants can usually develop freely outdoors, there is often significantly less space for free development when growing tomatoes indoors. This should be taken into account when buying and a correspondingly suitable tomato variety should be selected.

Bush tomatoes such as cherry and cocktail tomatoes take up little space, which is why they are best suited for growing tomatoes on the windowsill. In addition, there is usually less maintenance required, the smaller the tomato varieties are. The most popular bush cherry tomatoes include:

  • Washington Cherry
  • Gold Nugget
  • Hybridtomate Cherries Jubilee
  • Hybridtomate Terenzo Hybrid.

Climbing tomato varieties take up more space than bush tomatoes and are less suitable for the windowsill unless there is a larger pot with space for a climbing aid.

Tip: A robust specimen can be found, for example, in the wild tomato.

Not insignificant for many hobby gardeners is how often they can be harvested, or how high the harvest will be. Plenty of fruit can be expected from the fast-ripening plum and cherry tomatoes, among others. Dwarf plants usually only have a harvest time of between four and six weeks a year.

Other recommended tomato varieties

  • Minibel – compact, tree-like growth – growth height: 20 to 35 centimeters – fruit size: 1.5 to 2.5 centimeters – red, round fruits with a firm skin – sweet taste – no pinching required
  • Pixie – small cocktail tomato variety – growth height: maximum 30 centimeters – fruit size: about two centimeters – red and yellow striped fruits – spicy, sweet taste – no exhausting required
  • Red Robin – small dwarf tomato – growth height: about 30 centimeters – fruit size: about two centimeters – red fruits with a firm skin – spicy, sweet taste – grows bushy – no pinching required
  • Tiny Tim – particularly small – growth height: 20 to 50 centimeters – fruit size: about two centimeters – round to oval red fruits with a thin skin – sweet taste
  • Tumbling Tom in red or yellow – hanging tomatoes – growth height: about 30 centimeters – fruit size: about four to six centimeters – red and/or yellow fruits – sweet taste – many fruits
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Sow or prefer?

In addition to the right tomato variety, you should also consider whether sowing or preferring is more suitable for growing tomatoes indoors.
The difference between the two types of cultivation is that when the seed is sown, it is more or less left to its own devices. It is simply distributed on the substrate and covered with a little soil and ideally watered occasionally. When preferring, targeted germination is the priority. Here the seed is stimulated to germinate. Because of this, the chances of germination are also significantly better when you prefer them than when you sow them.

However, preferring requires more time than sowing. The latter should be done as early as January/February, while pre-growing should only take place in the middle/end of March, otherwise thin shoots could result.

Instructions: prefer

  • Distribute seeds on a tray filled with potting soil at a distance of about three centimeters
  • Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil (dark germs) and moisten the soil well
  • Stretch translucent film over the bowl
  • Location: sunny windowsill
  • Uncover foil daily, moisten soil and close again (avoid waterlogging)
  • Germination temperature: 20 to 24 degrees Celsius
  • Transplant: after about six to ten days, when the first leaves appear

pot

To ensure that tomatoes in a pot have optimal conditions for growth and tomato ripening, the following criteria should be adhered to:

  • After pricking out, transplant into a pot with a capacity between three and 20 liters (depending on the variety)
  • Only use pots with a drainage hole so that excess water can run off
  • Lay drainage out of quartz sand or fine gravel on the bottom of the pot (about two centimeters thick layer)
  • Use nutrient-rich substrate
  • Maintain a distance of around two centimeters between the edge of the pot and the surface of the substrate (to prevent overflowing after watering

location

In order to be able to thrive optimally in the apartment, the location for growing tomatoes on the windowsill must meet certain requirements, as described below:

  • Light conditions: bright and sunny
  • A south-facing window sill is ideal
  • If the natural brightness is not sufficiently secured, irradiate with a special plant lamp
  • Ambient temperature: between 18 and 20 degrees Celsius
  • Suitable places: unheated kitchen, hallway, cool bedroom
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plant lamp

If the normal daylight is not sufficient or the tomato cultivation in the apartment comes to a standstill because permanent gray clouds and rain ensure little brightness, a magnificent, healthy thriving can only be ensured with a plant lamp. This can be the case especially in February to March/April, when a lot of daylight and sun is needed for sowing and pre-growing. This time can only be bridged with a plant lamp. It should be noted that this should never burn for more than twelve to 14 hours at a time. The plants also need the darkness to get rest.

When buying a suitable lamp, you should pay attention to the requirements of the tomatoes. A plant lamp should meet the following criteria:

  • Kelvin number between 5,300 K and 6,500 K for cultivation
  • At least ten watt LED
  • Spread angle: between 45 and 90 degrees, depending on the size of the plant/growing box
  • LED lamps are optimal because they generate little or no heat and therefore do not overheat the plants

maintenance

When growing tomatoes indoors, the difference in care compared to tomatoes grown outdoors is not great. You should only consider a few subtleties so that the tomato plant can thrive optimally on the windowsill.

pour

The plant has a relatively high water requirement, the warmer it is. It is important that the moisture level of the tomato plant is checked daily, as even short-term drying out can cause damage. It is also recommended to use a saucer that stands under the pot. Excess irrigation water can collect here without causing water stains on the windowsill.

When watering, you should proceed as follows:

  • Only use lime-free and lukewarm irrigation water
  • Only water the soil/substrate – do not wet the leaves
  • Keep the soil continuously moist without allowing waterlogging to develop
  • Dry the water that has spilled through the drain hole
  • Water twice a day if necessary during the heating period and on hot summer days

Fertilize

Tomatoes need a lot of nutrients, especially for fruiting. Unlike most outdoor tomatoes, they cannot get these from the ground indefinitely. For this reason, regular fertilization is an essential criterion for optimal tomato cultivation in the home. A nutrient deficiency can be recognized by the light green leaves. Then at the latest, fertilizing is essential.

You should fertilize according to the following instructions:

  • Fertilize with commercial liquid fertilizer
  • When fertilizing with granules or similar, moisten the substrate beforehand
  • Fertilizer rhythm: every two to three weeks until the first fruit set is visible
  • From the first fruit set, reduce fertilization to once a week
  • Alternatively, stalks that have been severed can act as fertilizer if sprinkled all around the substrate
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Cutting/Pruning

In principle, it is not necessary to pinch out small tomato varieties. In the foreground of a misery is above all the growth promotion of larger fruits. With small tomatoes, this does not help noticeably.

Nevertheless, it can be advantageous for certain reasons:

  • It prevents fungal diseases
  • The plant can spend more energy on fruiting and improve quality
  • Keeps the plant compact
  • Prevents too dense growth and possible lack of space for vigorous tomato ripening in larger varieties
  • The separated shoots are excellent as fertilizer

Instruction to the max

When pinching out shoots and leaves are removed. This should be done as described in this guide:

  • Remove all young and older side shoots
  • Pinch off fresh and young shoots with your fingers
  • Never cut above the umbel
  • Cut off the bottom leaves

pollination

Pollination is necessary for the development of magnificent and tasty tomatoes. This is what nature does for outdoor tomatoes. There is a lack of this when growing tomatoes in the apartment. Here, hobby gardeners and self-sufficient people can easily help themselves. There are various methods to choose from, which should be carried out several times in a row on different days, since the opening of all the flowers does not occur at the same time. In addition, the environment at the time of the “artificial” pollination should meet certain conditions so that pollination works properly.

This is how pollination works in the apartment:

  • Gently shake the tomato plant
  • Move the flowers with the vibration of an electric toothbrush
  • Go lightly over the pollen sacs and scars with a soft brush
  • Provide airflow with a fan

Required environmental conditions are:

  • Humidity between 50 and 70 percent
  • If the humidity is too high, the pollen will clump together
  • If the air humidity is too dry, the ability to germinate pollen decreases
  • Ambient temperature maximum 30 degrees Celsius

Tomato harvest in the apartment

As a rule, the first Solanum lycopersicum are ready to harvest after a few weeks after sowing or pre-growing. When harvesting, it is important not to damage the fruit cap.
The ripeness of the fruit can be recognized by the following characteristics:

  • Strong red or yellow color (depending on variety)
  • The skin of the fruit is easy to indent
  • The tomatoes come off with almost no resistance

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