How to Grow Tomatoes at Home with Your Kids

How to Grow Tomatoes at Home with Your Kids for fun and learning even if you don't have a garden

Tomatoes are one of the first plants I grew successfully. They are easy to grow and can boost your confidence if you’re new to gardening. Kids love to see the color of the fruit developing so they’re a great success with little ones. To learn how to grow tomatoes at home I’ve covered a few different ways to grow them and how to grow more tomatoes each season. Let’s take a look…

Upside Down Tomato Plants Grown on The Back Deck

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Looking for an easy way to grow tomatoes on your back deck? Why not try to grow them upside down? Sounds strange but it really works out great.

Kids absolutely adore this method of growing tomatoes. It keeps the plants close to the house so they can see the progress. And the idea of growing tomatoes hanging in the air always appeals to children.

There are several benefits to growing tomato plants this way. For one reason it takes up less space, it’s easy to maintain the plant and it’s really fun to watch them grow, right there on your deck.

It’s so popular that many tomato lovers have turned to this way of growing tomato plants to not only increase their crop but because it’s an easy way to grow one of the most favorite garden vegetables in the country.

When growing tomatoes upside down, they are grown in a container rather than in the dirt in your garden.

What are the benefits of growing tomatoes upside down?

This is especially pleasing to those that love the thought of a garden, but they just don’t have the room to have a full-fledged garden. This way you can enjoy the loving past time of gardening right on the deck, no matter if you live in the country or an apartment. It works great for everyone.

Another benefit to growing tomatoes upside down is that there is no need for staking.  Tomato plants need support as they grow taller when grown the traditional way but with the plant hanging upside down, the weight falls naturally towards the ground.  You’ll also never have to worry about weeding your upside-down tomato plant, which will save so much time.

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There’s also a benefit if you have very poor soil in your area, no need to worry about that when you grow them in the upside-down containers. Also, another big problem most gardeners face is the dreaded pests that like to snack on your precious tomato plants in the normal garden. No more worries about that with them hanging on your deck.

Those bugs just can’t climb up there to get to your plants. Plus, keeping the tomato plants separate reduces the disease that can easily be spread from one plant to the other in your average back yard garden or in a vegetable patch.

Growing tomatoes upside down will also benefit the plant directly.  For instance, growing tomato plants upside down can help your tomato plants to produce better, bigger crop of tomatoes.

This is a result of better airflow to the plant and there is less stress on the branches as they grow upside down. Your tomatoes will also ripen faster than those grown in the average back yard garden.

Plus, since your tomatoes are gown away from the ground you won’t have to worry about rotting tomatoes that touch the soil.

Does this method work for all tomatoes?

Some suggest that you should pick a smaller variety of tomatoes for this project. But many gardeners have found that they would rather grow them upside down than in their outdoor garden, because of the ease of growing and all the other benefits discussed above.

To just go out to you deck and pick your nice ripe tomato for lunch is way easier than hiking down to the garden spot, making a path through the weeds, getting dirt all over yourself just to harvest a few tomatoes for that salad.

So, if you want to learn how to grow tomatoes at home the easy way, consider growing them upside down. The kids will love it.

How to Grow Tomatoes at Home in a Container

Tomatoes are the number one vegetable that almost everyone starts with, when thinking of growing an outdoor garden for the first time. One thing that you might not have thought about is that you too can grow these wonderful plants in a container if you’re trying for the first time.

For the most part this plant is the easiest and most rewarding of all the vegetables you can grow in the garden. Kids love seeing the plant and the tomatoes growing and you can have fun harvesting your crop.

Why tomatoes?

Why is the humble tomato plant so rewarding? Because of the taste and the bounty! No one can fully appreciate home grown vegetables until they eat a freshly ripened tomato, picked right off the vine.

There’s nothing like it in the grocery stores, due to the delicate nature of tomatoes, the farmers need to pick them when they are green to ensure that, the product will get to the store undamaged.

That means the loss of taste along with it. But when you go out to your garden and grow the plant yourself, then feast on the bounty of this wonderful plant, only then do you fully appreciate just how delicious these tomatoes can taste. They really are best fresh from the garden.

This makes it exciting that anyone can grow these just about anywhere there is full sun. By making it entirely possible to grow a healthy, fruit producing tomato plant in a container, you’re sidestepping the need for an outdoor garden.  Tomato plants are an extremely easy plant to grow just as successfully in a garden as it is in a container.

Advantages of learning how to grow tomatoes in a container

There are several benefits to growing a tomato plant in a container.  This method is perfect for those who are short on space for an actual outdoor garden.  Pots can be placed anywhere that receives enough light for the plant to sustain its growth including patios, yards and even window sills.

If you’re living in an apartment with kids they can still enjoy all the excitement of growing tomatoes in containers. Growing tomatoes is educational as well as fun and kids don’t need to miss out.

Plus, since tomato plants require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day, pots can be moved from location to location to ensure that the plant is receiving the right amount of sunlight eliminating the need for one particularly sunny spot.  Another advantage to growing tomato plants in pots is that it eliminates the need to weed if you are short on time for proper gardening. Every gardener loves to hear that!

Which tomatoes?

Click Image for the price of this Cherry Tomato plant

Most varieties of tomatoes can be successfully grown in containers but, some do better than others.

You will want to grow tomatoes that do not get too large.  Determinate tomatoes are varieties that will grow to a smaller size.  They will typically get to be about 1 to 2 ft maximum.

Plus, growing tomatoes in pots will cause them to ripen all at once.

Choosing the smaller tomato varieties means that you are not stuck with too many tomatoes than you know what to do with.

To ensure your success in the endeavor of growing a tomato plant in a container, it is also better to choose a tomato plant variety that has a lower water demand.

Tomato plants need about one inch of water a week keeping the soil moist.  But, because they are being grown in a pot, keeping the soil moist can be challenging.  The key to keeping the soil moist it to pick the right kind of pot for your tomato plant.

A standard terracotta pot that provides enough room for the roots to grow is perfect for your plant.

Which soil for tomato plants?

Good drainage is important so make sure that the pot has drainage holes at the bottom.

You can also add a layer of rock at the bottom of the pot to ensure good drainage and ward off root rot.

To keep the soil in the pot moist you should also use the right kind of soil.

Tomato plants grown in a pot do well in a soil-less mix of sphagnum peat, perlite and vermiculite.

You should also add a scoop of organic fertilizer to the soil mixture as well to the center of the pot and mix it in well.

Just don’t add too much fertilizer at the beginning because if you’re planting a seedling you could burn the roots if the fertilizer is too strong in the container.

It’s always best to use a smaller amount in the pot originally and then keep adding more gradually when the plant needs it.

Do tomatoes in containers need fertilizer?

Tomato plants tend to be heavy feeders so you should add a fertilizer that is slow acting.  On top of that, you can add fertilizer about every two to four weeks.

It is wonderful to be able to grow your own tomatoes.  You can enjoy fresh organic tomatoes that taste so much better than what you can get from the store.  With the ability to grow tomato plants in a container, apartment dwellers and those who are limited on space can enjoy the same benefits as those with access to a full outdoor garden.

How to grow tomatoes at home from seed

If you want to know how to grow tomatoes at home, it’s wise to show your children how they grow from seeds.

Growing tomato plants from seeds is not that difficult and it is extremely rewarding.  You can find a large variety of tomato plant seed packets and it is fun to experiment with the different varieties you find. In this article we’ll be going over how to grow tomato plants from seeds but also when and how to transplant them outdoors.

You’ll want to plant your seeds early in the spring and not plant them outside until after the last frost date in your area. Usually you want to plant your tomato seeds indoors about six to eight weeks before you intend to plant them in an outside garden. Check your local area to see what zone you live in to determine when you’ll want to start planting.

By growing your tomato vines from seeds your child will have the chance to sow the seeds. This shows kids the process of growing food right from the beginning. The seeds are very small but that’s fine for little fingers. Just be careful that your child doesn’t swallow any of the seeds if they are very young.

How much sunlight for tomatoes?

The easiest way to plant tomato seeds is into a pot that can be placed in the sunlight.  Scatter your seeds thinly over potting compost placed in a tray.

Tomato seeds like warm conditions so you will want to keep your tray in a warm area or in a windowsill.  You can also add cling film over the tray to keep the soil from drying out.  Once the seedlings begin to appear, remove the cling film.  Tomato plants like moist soil but be careful not to over water seedlings.

Tomato plants also love sunlight.  If you are growing your seedlings in a tray on a windowsill, make sure that you turn the tray every day or two.  This will ensure that all of the plants gain access to the light and grow evenly.

Tomato plants will also grow towards the light so if they are not receiving enough light, they may grow bent.  Tomato plants can also grow thin and leggy if they do not receive enough light while indoors.

When to transplant the seedlings

When seedlings have grown to be about 1 to 2 inches high, it is time to transplant them from the tray to individual pots.  Carefully separate each seedling being careful not to damage the roots.

You should lift the seedlings by the leaves and not the stem because they can easily get damaged at this young stage.

Place the seedlings in a hole in the soil which is big enough for its roots. You’ll want to plant the new seedling all the way up almost to the first leaves on the stalk. Back fill the hole with compost and water the seedling immediately.

Lightly press the compost around the roots to ensure that the roots have good contact with the soil.  The seedlings should continue to be kept within the sunlight and turned if the sunlight is uneven.

When the seedlings have grown to be about six to eight inched tall, you should transplant them again into larger pots.  During these last stages, you can harden off the seedlings before placing them into an outdoor garden.

Hardening them off simply means to get them used to the outdoor temperature which is obviously harder to control than the inside temperature you were growing your seedlings at.  Place seedlings outside in the sun for a few hours each day to harden them off.

When to transfer tomato seedlings outside

When seedlings finally grow at least six leaves and the weather is warm enough for them to be transplanted to an outdoor garden, bury the seedlings within the soil so that only the top four leaves are showing.

Since tomato plants can develop roots all along the stem, burying the stems deep into the ground will ensure that your tomato plants grow strong root systems.  This will create a stronger plant that can better withstand the weight of the fruit.

As the weight of the fruit brings down a weaker plant, the fruit will touch the ground and become rotten.  A stronger plant means a better harvest and crop.

How to Grow a Healthier More Abundant Tomato Plant

To learn how to grow tomatoes at home, you’ll also want to learn how to grow a bigger harvest. We all love fresh homegrown tomatoes but, how can you grow a healthier plant and in turn, have a better abundance of tomatoes?

There are a few tips that avid tomato grows use on a constant basis to achieve such goals.  Follow these extremely easy tips for growing tomato plants and you can see the same kind of results in your next harvest.

How to preheat your soil

Because tomatoes love heat, you can preheat the soil in your garden before you plant your tomato plants.  Just cover the area with black or red plastic for a couple of weeks before you intend to plant.  With the extra degrees of warmth that the plastic creates, you will receive earlier tomatoes.

Planting deep

Another tip to growing a healthier tomato plant is to plant the tomato plant deep into the soil.  Seedlings are typically planted after they have developed about six leaves.  Plant the seedlings into the soil deep enough so that only the top four leaves are showing.  Tomatoes are able to develop roots all along the stems of the plant.

Planting sideways

This will create a stronger root system for the plant.  You can also plant the tomato plant sideways in the ground within a shallow trench.  The plant will straighten up and grow towards the sun, but extra care needs to be taken when you are inserting the cage or pole so that it does not pierce the root system.

Tips during growing season

There are several tips to maintaining the plant itself throughout the growing season that some tomato growers do not know.  One tip is to keep up on the pruning of the plant particularly the suckers.

Tomato growers can remove the suckers that develop in the joint of two branches of the plant.  They do not bear fruit and they take energy away from the rest of the plant.  You can also prune some of the leaves to allow the sun to reach the ripening fruit.  But, a lot of care must be taken to ensure that you are not removing too many leaves.

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If your child is helping you to do the pruning you’ll need to give them a lot of direction so you don’t lose too many leaves. The pruning scissors shown on the left should only be used by an adult (not kids).

It is the leaves that are photosynthesizing and creating the sugars that give flavor to the tomatoes.

You should also ensure that you keep up on the watering of the tomato plants.

They should be watered deeply and regularly while the plants are developing; missing a few days of watering and trying to make up for it later on leads to blossom end rot and cracking.

Another tip on watering tomato plants is to lessen the watering once the fruit begins to ripen.  With the less amount of water, the plant will be coaxed into concentrating its sugars.

But, be careful not to withhold too much water because the plant will wilt and become stressed.  This will lead to the plant dropping its blossoms and possibly its fruit.

Use the tips to get more tomatoes every time

These tips are easy to do and will support the health of the tomato plant.  Many tomato plant growers have incorporated these simple tips into their tomato gardening routine and have enjoyed the increase in their crop and flavor of their tomatoes. When you’re learning how to grow tomatoes at home you can incorporate these professional tips to get an abundance of fruit for your family.

Tips on Planting Tomatoes to Avoid Them All Ripe At The Same Time

If you’re planting tomatoes so your children will eat more vegetables then you’ll want a constant supply. There is a way to achieve this.

Tomatoes are one of the most used vegetables around the world.  They are widely used in a variety of dishes we eat every day.  Many people have found that growing their own tomatoes greatly increases their use of tomatoes in meals.

Although, in order to avoid the problem of too many tomatoes getting ripe all at the same time then some gardeners have developed their own system of planting. By staggering when you plant your tomato plants you are able to harvest fresh, ripe tomatoes throughout the growing season.

It depends on your location

This greatly depends on the area in which you are planting and the length of the growing season.

Tomato growers need to wait until the soil temperature in their area is at least 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  The temperature during the day should also be 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

The temperature at night should be between 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit.  Regardless of whether the tomatoes are planted in early March or early May, the first tomato usually doesn’t ripen until late July.

The full production usually begins in early August as long as the tomato plants are planted by early May.  They are sun vegetables and need warm climates.  A minimum of six hours of full sun is required for their growth and ripening.

If you are interested in harvesting your tomatoes in November before the first frost comes along in December, you should plant your tomatoes in June.  Tomatoes do not tolerate the frost.

What about warmer climates?

In some warmer climates, tomatoes can be grown almost all year round.  Planting tomato plants in April will give you a wonderful summer crop of most tomato varieties.  Those who wish to have a fall or winter crop of home-grown tomatoes choose to plant tomato seedlings in July or August.  In these warmer climates, it is still possible to get at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day.

Another way to avoid problems growing tomatoes is to plant seedlings rather than seeds in your outdoor garden.  If you plan to grow your tomato plants from seeds then transplant them later, you should plant your seeds indoors 5 to 6 weeks before you intend to plant them in the ground.

And remember, seedlings should be at least at a six-leaf stage to go into the ground in your outdoor garden.  Make sure that the soil in your garden has been tilled well.  The soil should have a pH level of 5.5 to 7.8.

Although, home grown tomatoes grow in most types of soil, a light, well-drained fertile soil, high in organic matter, is considered best.

Some cold climate tomato growers have even turned to compact, portable greenhouses as a way to avoid problems and to be able to get the most out of their tomato crop.  These types of greenhouses allow you to gradually and safely expose your growing crop to the cold outdoors.  This is a type of hardening off where you’re bringing them from the warmth of the greenhouse to the outdoors. Remember that without hardening, such tender seedlings can die quickly on a cold night.

In summary…

If you want to learn how to grow tomatoes at home with your kids there are the basics and then there are the extra tips. We’ve covered it all here. Once you’ve decided on the method of growing your tomatoes, you’ll move on to choosing seeds or seedlings.

Once you’re into the growing season try and follow as many of the tips as possible to increase your tomato yield. By watering and fertilizing the correct amount and pruning just enough you’ll grow more tomatoes.

Enjoy growing tomatoes with your kids. It’s easy, it’s fun and it’s educational. Once you master tomatoes you’ll want to move onto a complete vegetable garden (that’s what I did) – but start now with tomatoes and enjoy your harvest.

 


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