Five vegetables you can grow in pots all around the year is one of the most viewed posts on the blog. And, another often searched item is ” how to grow tomatoes in pots at home“.
I’m not surprised because the price of tomatoes varies substantially all through the years. Sometimes, they are available at throwaway prices and sometimes they are priced like gold. Nevertheless, becoming self sufficient for tomatoes, chillies has been a gardening goal for us. We have not bought papayas, pomegranates, lemons, basil, curry leaves and chilly from the market for the past year. I would like to soon get there for okra, beans, and tomatoes as well.
In this post, I share my learning on what increased the size of my tomatoes, how to increase yield and grow tomatoes the organic way.
Where to buy tomato seeds:
I have compiled a resource of where to buy pots, seeds, equipment, and other gardening materials online in India. Personally, I find the germination rates of Omaxe, Oncrop and Kraft to be good. For tomatoes, the best tomatoes I have got are seeds from the ones I bought from the local market that stayed fresh and didn’t rot in a few days. so, yes, my investment in seeds was zero.
How to germinate tomato seeds:
- Take a small 4 inch plastic cup and pack it tightly with a mixture of 60% cocopeat, 40% compost, and 10% red soil. I use less of red soil for germinating seeds as I have experienced a higher germination rate when the soil is loose. As you can see, I don’t use a seedling tray because I find it cumbersome to transplant. These used cups come in handy instead of going into landfill.
- Sprinkle a few seeds. Cover it with a thin layer of the cocopeat mixture again.
- Keep it in a shady place.
- Sprinkle water once in two days or everyday if the surface feels dry.
When to transplant a tomato seedling and how to take care:
- The seeds will start sprouting within a few days. They are ready to transplant once they reach three inches tall. I say a couple of inches because the roots are weak to be transplanted before that. Since the sprouting medium is cocopeat mixture, it will not be strong enough to hold the seedlings and you will find them falling to the side if you let them stay in the cup for too long.
- For a family of four, you will need at least four plants to sustain you on a daily basis based on your consumption. The pots should be at least 12″ wide.
- Place two seedlings in each pot. The reason being if one is weak the other will grow onto be a healthy one.
- Keep it in shade for a couple of days before moving it into full sun.
How to increase the yield of a tomato plant:
- Pruning is essential. This video has good tips on how to tame a wildly growing one with proper pruning.
- Watch out for mealy bugs underneath leaves. Spray water with full force or neem oil diluted in water consistently for days until you get rid of them.
- The trick to a good yield is food, water and sunshine. Feed them well with compost every week once it starts flowering. I buy compost and cow dung in bulk to feed the plants every week. I’ve been feeding them buttermilk and tea compost (diluted curd) every week. And man, you should see the size of the tomatoes now. From the size of gooseberries, they have suddenly gone this huge.
Here are some of the often asked questions:
1. What varieties of tomatoes to grow?
I grow three varieties – natti (local) which are sour, the hybrid seedless ones which are plush and sweet, and the cherry tomatoes for salads. Cherry tomatoes – 2 should suffice. The rest have 3 of each plant.
2. Any natural ways of controlling pest infestation in tomato plants?
I don’t discard garlic skin and instead sprinkle them on the surface of the pots. To a certain extent, this keep pests at bay. I don’t water the pots late in the evening either. Moisture after sunset is an ideal condition for fungus growth. So, it’s either at 8:00 a.m. or around 4:00 p.m.
3. What causes brown leaves in tomato plants?
There are a number of reasons for leavings turning brown at the tips before completely turning brown and falling off. These include:
- irregular watering
- over manuring or a fertilizer that burns the leaves
- fungal attack
If you have more questions, shoot them away in the comments section below, and I’ll add it to the above list.