Best mix for indoor tomato garden?

Discussion in 'Fruits' started by Olympian, Oct 23, 2017.

  1. Olympian

    Olympian

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    I'd like to start an indoor garden beginning with a few tomatoes. Is there a specific mix you guys would suggest I use? Do I also need to fertilize or is there a mix which sustains the tomatoes throughout their entire cycle? Can I start them in their finishing pot (3 gal) or do I need to start them in a smaller pot with a potting mix then transplant to a bigger pot?

    Thanks,
    Olympian
     
    Olympian, Oct 23, 2017
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  2. Olympian

    Chuck

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    I would suggest 1/3 each of a good potting mix, garden soil and a manure based compost. You will have to fertilize. To fertilize I would begin with a liquid fertilizer like HastaGro while the small plants are in a small container. When the plants are ready to transplant inot their final container mix a good organic pelleted fertlizer into the final growing medium. You must remember that NIGHT TIME LOW TEMPERATURES are extremely important for fruit set. Low temperatures should be between 68F-74F for reliable set. After the plants are acclimated sprinkle more pelleted fertilizer on top and each time you water also use the liquid fertilizer. Winter tomatoes are difficult for numerous reasons but adequate sunlight is probably the biggest factor.
     
    Chuck, Oct 23, 2017
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  3. Olympian

    MoonShadows

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    Tomatoes are tough to do inside and during the winter. Good luck.
     
    MoonShadows, Oct 23, 2017
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  4. Olympian

    Olympian

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    so to start...
    top 1/3 = potting mix
    middle 1/3 = garden soil
    bottom 1/3 = manure based compost

    Yes?

    For fertilizer, do I adhere to the recommended dosage? Or less? Signs I should look for indicating the need for food? For the final container, am I doing the same 1/3 mix of potting mix, garden soil, and manure based compost in addition to the organic pelleted fertilizer (how much of that if so)? And ok so during lights off I want to keep them colder, noted.

    Thanks @Chuck for the input!
    Why do you say they're tough to do inside? We've got a really nice indoor setup going and I'm hoping to get some nice tomatoes out of it.
     
    Olympian, Oct 23, 2017
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  5. Olympian

    Chuck

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    If you are starting from seed just use potting mix. If you are starting from small plants use the mix. Do not layer the mix, the soil and the compost. Mix it thoroughly together with the pelleted fertilizer. Use only organic fertilizer, no synthetic or oil based, because if you do you are taking a BIG chance of using too much and you will burn the roots. Plant in at least 4 gallon buckets, preferably larger if you can. As for how much organic pelleted fertilizer to use. In a 5 gallon bucket of the potting mix, soil and compost I would mix in about 2 quarts of the pelleted fertilizer and when the plant is planted sprinkle enough to cover the soil on top. Make sure you have enough drainage holes in the bottom. You DO NOT LET THEM GET COLD, EVER. The NIGHT TIME LOW OF 68F should be the coldest they experience and around 90F the hottest. Winter is the absolute worse time to grow tomatoes because of the lack of sunlight. You may have the best artificial lighting there is but it does not replicate sunlight and you cannot give tomatoes too much sunlight. If your plants start to grow tall without many limbs and leaves it is because they are not getting enough light. If they start to turn yellow or have darkened areas on the leaves it is probably too much water. Only water when the plant needs it and that is easily seen when the plants starts to wilt. And when you water drench it. I would guess, without seeing your setup, about every 7-10 days.
     
    Chuck, Oct 23, 2017
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  6. Olympian

    Olympian

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    Thanks so much for the help Chuck!

    So I want to start them in smaller containers filled with just potting mix, then transplant them into their final (5 gallon) containers with the potting mix (of-course), manure based compost ( https://www.amazon.com/Michigan-Pea.../B000KL5FP4/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1508790202 ), garden soil ( https://www.amazon.com/Miracle-Gro-.../B017HOCYZ0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1508790297 ) and 2 quarts of fertilizer ( https://www.amazon.com/Jobes-Organi.../B002YOJDAS/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1508789835 ) ?

    The setup will be a 4'x4' tent with a 432 watt 8-bulb T5 light. I've read tomatoes prefer a light cycle of 14/10, so I'll likely be doing that. Do the products I've linked suit my purposes? Thanks again, here's a picture of the setup.

    [​IMG]
     
    Olympian, Oct 23, 2017
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  7. Olympian

    Chuck

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    Your stuff looks OK although I am no fan of any MiracleGro product. Which variety of tomato are you going to grow?
     
    Chuck, Oct 24, 2017
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  8. Olympian

    MoonShadows

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    If you have a devoted growing room it may be easier. And, I see you have a special set up (grow box?) I am just thinking of a spare room and the temps and lighting needed.
     
    MoonShadows, Oct 24, 2017
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  9. Olympian

    Olympian

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    Which brand of soil would you recommend as an alternative to MiracleGro? I just got the seeds in the mail today. I'll be growing the 'Better Bush' tomato! So just to be sure, mixing this fertilizer into the soil will provide the plant with enough nutrients to sustain growth throughout the entire cycle? I don't need any liquid nutrient supplements?
    Its not a grow box its just a grow tent with a 432 watt 8-bulb T5 light and an inline fan exhausting into the attic. There will also be a 7k BTU portable A/C unit in the tent to keep temps in a desirable range.

    I'm all set to order pending recommendations for a better garden soil than Miracle Grow. I may even document the grow here! Really excited to grow some delicious tomatoes.
     
    Olympian, Oct 24, 2017
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  10. Olympian

    Chuck

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    When I must purchase garden soil I have found Espoma to be excellent. Better Bush is an excellent choice for containers.
     
    Chuck, Oct 24, 2017
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  11. Olympian

    Olympian

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    Awesome, happy I made a good choice. I've just ordered the following: potting mix, garden soil

    So within the week I'll have some tomatoes growing! This is why I love forums.
     
    Olympian, Oct 24, 2017
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  12. Olympian

    Olympian

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    How many better bush tomatoes do you think I can comfortably grow with the size space I have? Remember the A/C unit will take up a bit of the space.
     
    Olympian, Oct 24, 2017
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  13. Olympian

    Chuck

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    3 or possibly 4 depending on the size of the A/C. You will still have to rearange them often.

    So you are starting from seeds. Here is how I do it and it never fails. Fill your seedling containers completely with nothing but potting soil. Soak them completely in water and drain. Gently tap down the potting soil. Place 2 seeds on the top and sprinkle potting mix to a depth of about 1/8 inch making sure to cover the seeds well. Spray just enough water on them to settle the potting mix. Cover them as tightly as possible with Saran Wrap and put them somewhere where it is very warm. I like mine at 76F-80F. You do not need light, just warmth. It should take about 5-7 days for them to sprout. After they sprout remove the Saran Wrap and place the container into another taller clear container and put Saran Wrap over this container and place into a warn sunny (or in your case under the lights) location. Do not fertilize but do sprinkle a thin layer of whole ground or horticultral cornmeal over the soil. This will stop any damping off occuring. If you have to water always water from the bottom up. Then when the plants have their 2nd set of true leaves repot them into another larger container or, if you must, into the 5 gallon buckets and snip off the smallest of the two seedlings if both sprouted. While the plants are still small you will have to water from the top down but don't get the seedlings wet. You will have plenty of fertilizer available to the plants until they set fruit. When the first blooms open sprinkle another layer of the pelleted fertilizer over the top of the soil. If you like you can then also water with a liquid or soluble organic fertilizer but it shouldn't be needed. Try to never get the foliage wet.
     
    Chuck, Oct 24, 2017
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  14. Olympian

    MoonShadows

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    I just don't like Miracle Grow products because they are not natural; to my knowledge, they are chemical based...or they used to ne...I haven't used them in years.. I only use natural products (read organic) on all of my veggies. Not criticizing. That is just my preference. Now, I only use horticultural perlite, peat moss and my own compost to make my soil for growing. It's called "Mel's Mix"...http://www.mysquarefootgarden.net/mels-mix/
     
    MoonShadows, Oct 24, 2017
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  15. Olympian

    Olympian

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    Excellent info. I'll keep everyone posted on how things turn out. I've got all the stuff I need ordered and on the way, so it shouldn't be more than a week till I can begin.
    Yeah, I read organic was the best option, so that's what I'll be using. I'll look into that mix for future grows.
     
    Olympian, Oct 24, 2017
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  16. Olympian

    MoonShadows

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    And, please keep us up to date on the grow as it proceeds. I would love to grow tomatoes indoors during the winter rather than buying those ones from the super market that taste like cardboard.
     
    MoonShadows, Oct 25, 2017
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  17. Olympian

    Olympian

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    Absolutely. You all can expect a grow journal for this.

    @Chuck Is this https://thrivemarket.com/bobs-red-m...29e4m5JUf4E5ijra63qpeKceHOabJ-VhoC0LkQAvD_BwE acceptable or do I specifically need 'Horticultural Cornmeal'? It seems like this would be OK and its cheaper than if I were to buy a giant bag of Horticultural Cornmeal (only big bags are available it seems). I just want to make sure before purchasing it. Last thing I'm waiting on is the 5 gallon Smart Pots and this cornmeal.
     
    Olympian, Oct 29, 2017
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  18. Olympian

    Chuck

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    That is exactly what you want. And save enough to make a batch of homemade cornbread.
     
    Chuck, Oct 29, 2017
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  19. Olympian

    Olympian

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    @Chuck
    @MoonShadows

    So the pots and cornmeal are scheduled to arrive on Thursday. Those are the last items I need to get started! I'm excited!

    Quick question about germination. Do you just place the seeds horizontally in the soaked potting mix? Or do they need to be in a specific upright position? I know some seeds fare better when placed in a specific position when germinating. If they need to be placed into the soil in an upright position, is there a way to tell which side of the seed you want facing upwards?

    I'm sort of an OCD perfectionist, so I like to make sure I know exactly what I'm doing before I do it. Forgive me for that, lol.
     
    Olympian, Oct 31, 2017
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  20. Olympian

    Chuck

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    It doesn't matter a whit what position they are in. The most important thing is for them to not be buried too deeply. 1/8th to 1/4 inch is the correct depth. Just drop them onto the surface of wet soil and then cover with a sprinkling of more of the same and gently settle the potting mix with a spray of water before covering with saran wrap.
     
    Chuck, Oct 31, 2017
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