Can you grow tomatoes indoors? Yes! Read about my recent experiment.
Early in 2023 I purchased myself a couple of grow lights. I actually ended up buying two different products. In January, I purchased some 'YAUNGEL' seed grow trays with built in lights. I did some experiments, planting some seeds on a tray on my window ledge and others under the grow lights.
I planted a mix of tomatoes, peppers, spring onions and lettuce. The seedlings under the lights, definitely got growing quicker than the ledge tray. They all looked healthy, and I was very happy with my purchase. I would only recommend these trays for germination though as over time, the seedlings became quite tall and thin rather than short and bushy (suggesting there is not enough 'blue' light) in this set up.
This is where my second purchase came in. The grow lights used for my seedling trays were tiny and needed to be very close to the seedling in order do their job. In order for me to continue to grow indoors and grown my now bigger plants in bigger plots, I needed something else.
I decided on a couple of full spectrum 300W lights that i could hang and I love them. They are also great for the germination / seeding stage - better in fact than the seed tray ones too. I've included the Amazon link but I don't think they are available at the moment - at least it will give an idea of the sort of lights I am using.
I really love these lights. You can fold them and slightly tilt them outwards as well as hang them high up to get a bigger range. These really were a gamechanger for me, I could get so much more under the lights and my plants really took off.
Many of the plants under lights I transferred outside once the weather warmed up, but I did keep back a few, including peppers, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and tomatoes.
Despite being indoors, pests still managed to get in and attacked the peppers big time. This was resolved by putting the peppers outside for a few days to attract some hover flies to leave larvae on the plants and then they were returned indoors. Having them indoors worked wonders for the brassicas in terms of keeping slugs away. As for the tomatoes, well one of my indoor plants was the first to flower and fruit, by a whole 4 weeks (we had a poor summer this year).
This particular plant only gave me a small handful of fruits - but I had never transferred it from its small 9 cm pot so I was surprised I go anything to be honest. It also remained very small and short in size, at less than a 30cm tall.
I did have a second plant, another cherry tomato plant from the same set of seeds. This one I did put in a larger pot and it grew much taller. It also fruited, later, alongside the tomatoes I had outside. The big difference here though is that it's about to turn into November and it's still going strong, still flowering and still fruiting.
I have to admit, I didn't really pay much attention to my indoor tomatoes so I reckon if I had done a better job at pinching out the side shoots and fertilising, they would have done even better
I'm going to keep this plant going, at least until we move into our new home (I'm sooooooo excited) just to see how long I can harvest from it.