Growing tomatoes in your aerogarden. Can it be done? How long will it take? What should you worry about? When do you cut and/or harvest them?
Well, guys like many times before I have done a ton of research, and tried many techniques to come up with the best results for you that I will present in this article.
Growing tomatoes all year long is now a possible mission. With your aerogarden you can have fresh tomatoes even in the winter. The tomato care should be really simple and should not require much maintenance. There are several tomato plants that you can grow, but if you have a small space, then I would recommend that you try cherry tomatoes.
If you want you can go check the latest price of the Red Heirloom cherry tomato seed pod kit on Amazon. Those are smaller tomatoes that will be better for your aerogarden in my opinion. The classical bigger tomatoes are sometimes too heavy and will require support. You can easily stick a wooden stick into the soil next to your plant if you are growing them outside, but with the use of an aerogarden your space is limited.
If you want, you can check my absolute favorite tomato seed pods HERE.
So how do you do it? It’s simple. Here is the whole 9 step process.
STEP 1: Prepare your aerogarden
This step does not include much effort. Just like before planting any other seed, you should clean and sanitize your aerogarden in advance. The only exception would be if you are using a brand new AeroGarden that has never been used before. You can find the whole process of cleaning and sterilizing your aerogarden here. After your system is totally clean, proceed to add water.
STEP 2: Light configuration
Make sure to set the light as close as you can to your system-to the lowest possible. Tomatoes do not need bright light, but they do need at least 16 hours of light per day. So set your timer that the lights will be turned off for 8 hours each day. Remember to move your light hood with the growth of the plant. There should be only about 1 to 2 inches of space between your light and your first tomato leaf.
STEP 3: Plant your seeds
Tomatoes require a lot of space, so if you are planting them, make sure to leave some space between them. Either don’t use the seed pod slots in between or plant something that requires as little space as possible, like basil. In outdoor gardening, tomatoes grow best in greenhouses, so make sure to put the domes on.
STEP 4: Do not forget about liquid nutrients
The amount of nutrients needed will vary, based on how many tomato plants you are going to be growing. Read the instructions on the package and follow them. If you have decided to go with nutrient tablets instead of liquid, you should use one tablet for three tomato plants. Both liquid and tablets should last for about two weeks, except if the nutrient reminder is on. Press the reset button every time you add nutrients so that the system will know it is recharged.
STEP 5: Trim your tomato plant
When your tomatoes start growing, make sure to remove the domes. When they reach about two inches tall, you should trim off all the weak sprouts from the plant. Be careful not to damage it and if you do it correctly, you should be left with one strong plant.
STEP 6: Trick your plant into pollination
When your plant gets flowers, then it is time for it to get pollinated. Because your aerogarden is indoors, there probably won’t be any bees to do it for you. There is a way for you to do it on your own. You just shake the plant lightly and also you can blow on it really gently. Remember it does not take a lot to start this.
STEP 7: Pruning
The right time for pruning would be about four weeks after planting them in your system. Pruning is performed in two steps. The first step requires cutting off the stem a little bit above the first five branches in the bottom. You can do this with regular scissors, just make sure that they are clean beforehand. You can skip this if your tomato already has flowers-blossoms.
STEP 8: The second step of pruning
All of the branches that are growing outside the light reach must be clipped off. If your light hood is on the highest setting, you have to also clip off the branches that are growing into the lights, so that there is at least a couple of inches of space in between the top branch and the light. The branches and stems that are growing outside the light reach, or are blocking the light will harm your plant. The ones that are outside the light will just be eating the energy without producing any tomatoes. The branches that are growing into the light will block the light itself and prevent the other branches from getting any energy from the light.
STEP 9: Supporting the overloaded branches
Tomatoes are heavy, sometimes too heavy for its branches. This is why you want to a piece of string (the best would be to take a string made of natural materials) and tie the overloaded branch to something. It can either be the lamp arm, or something that you have closest to it. If your branches break while the tomatoes are still green, they will never get red and ripe.
Transplanting your tomato plant outside
If you want to transplant your tomato plant outside there are a few things you should do first.
- Trim your plant as much as you can. In the end, right before transplanting you should only be left with the strongest stem. It should not have any more than 5 small branches growing out of it.
- Cut the roots just like you trimmed the upper side of the plant. Make sure you only leave the strongest roots. To get the tomato out of your seed pod you can also use gardening shears. Add water when you are finished with transplanting.
The tomato plant is going to grow the best at a temperature of about 75 degrees Fahrenheit or 24 degrees Celsius.
How to transplant the AeroGarden tomato plant?
First of all, you are going to need a large pot. You will have to fill it up with soil and make a hole in the middle for your plant to go inside. When you are filling your pot with soil, fill just ¾ of it. It would best to use pre fertilized soil.
Second, you take out your plants. If you can, try to just pull them out of your grow baskets. This way you will be able to reuse them later. Wiggle them around for a bit and pull them off. If you have to trim the roots a bit, that is fine. Just make sure to also cut some branches if you have cut roots beforehand. This way the roots are still going to provide enough food for the whole plant.
If you did not succeed at preserving the grow basket, feel free to cut it. You can use ordinary scissors or gardening shears, but please be very careful. Plastic can be tricky to cut. You can compost any roots that you have cut off.
Plant your seedling in your soil-filled pot. It is always better to plant it deeper. After that fill the remaining space of the pot with soil. When your pot is full, at least one inch of the stem should be in the soil.
Once your tomato plant is in a pot you can now move it around. On the first day of transplanting you should put the tomato plant outside on sunlight for about 3 hours, the next day 5, and the next 7.. and so on until you have your plant outside 24 hours a day. This is when your plant is ready to be transplanted again, but this time it is going to be in your garden. If you want you can also leave your plant in the pot.
Tomato plant requires a lot of water so check on it daily to see if you have to add any. Also, keep in mind that tomatoes that will grow on it will get kind of heavy so support the branches. You can do this by sticking a wooden stick next to the plant and tie the branch that needs support to it.
How long do tomato seed pods last?
It has been stated by the producer, that tomatoes, like other veggies, will last up to 6 months, which means that you will be able to harvest them for about 4 months. I, on the other hand, had some better results. My tomato plant has lived for 371 days. Yes, I have had a tomato plant in my kitchen for more than a year. I had to wait 2 months for the first harvest, but still, that left me with 10 months of harvesting small cherry tomatoes.
How to pick AeroGarden tomatoes?
You can pick them by holding them with 2 fingers and gently pulling them or twisting them. If you apply too much force you might end up breaking a whole branch off and with that, you destroy all the remaining tomatoes on it that are still green.
Which AeroGarden is best for tomatoes?
I would recommend that you get a bigger model if you are going to plant this seed. Keep in mind that they require a lot of space. You always have to leave at least one slot free between the larger plants. So my choice would be the farm model because of its huge capacity. The middle size models should be just as fine, but you won’t be able to grow as many at one time. If you own the Herbie model, then I would recommend planting something else like herbs.
Can you mix tomato seed pods with other seed pods?
Yes. You can mix them with some other pods but not all of them. The plants that would go best with tomatoes are definitely herbs. It is a great combination. Can you imagine eating pasta with homegrown tomatoes and basil? Or maybe some dill or parsley. Since you have to leave at least one slot free between the plants it would be smart to fill them up with something else that does not require a lot of space.
Can I mix them with other veggies like peppers?
Well yes, you can, but if you do that you will have to be careful about spacing. If you have 4 slots in a row, then you would plant tomatoes on the far left slot and the pepper plant on the far right slot or the other way around. If you want you can plant some herbs in the to slots in between.
AeroGarden tomatoes growth timeline:
Week 1: The phase of Germination
This week is going to be a little bit tricky when you are planting tomato pods. You are going to have to make sure that the temperature is the best for the seed itself. Whenever you are adding water to your AeroGarden, please make sure that it is at room temperature-about 75 degrees Fahrenheit and add the recommended amount of plant food (nutrients) to get the most tomato-friendly growth environment. If you do not provide all of the above, you will probably have little to no success with your grow project.
Week 2: The phase of germination goes on
You are going to have to clip off the smallest of your sprouts. This is for ensuring your plant to make the most yields possible. I highly recommend that you prune your plant early so that your tomato can get the most energy possible. After that, you should see some sprouting happening. When it does, at about one inch, you should check every seed pod that you have. If the seed pod contains more than one tomato plant, you should clip the rest of them off using scissors. Always leave only the biggest plant and also make sure that it looks healthy. If not, you should cut it and leave the biggest healthy-looking one. You should give your plant about 3 weeks to sprout. If it does not, then your seed pod might be faulty.
Week 3&4: The last week of germination
This week you can just sit back and enjoy. Only make sure to add room temperature water and nutrients as needed. By now your plants are still too young to be pruned. You can take some photos of your seed pods every week, to see what the progress is and how well you are doing compared to other tomatoes that you can find online.
Week 5: Mid-Growth phase
Now is finally the time to clip the main stem. You should do this just above the sixth branch, that way you will strengthen the main stem, which is the most important for the plant itself. Keep in mind to support it if needed. This process will also make your plant produce the most blooms possible. If your plant has more blooms, it will pollinate much easier than with a lesser amount. If your main stem is strong enough, it might not need any support at all, but make sure to check on it frequently as your tomatoes start growing.
Week 6: The mid growth phase continues
This week, you will probably have to prune some of your branches. Prune the ones that are growing outside your light reach, because they will not produce any fruit and will only eat the food and take energy from the plant itself. Cut the branches where they meet other branches. This will probably take you about 10 minutes in total. And by now you should already wonder how tasty your tomatoes will be, right?
Week 7: Here they come!
By now (and also a bit earlier) there should be small yellow flowers on your plant. If they were pollinated, they will develop into small tomatoes. If not they will fall off and produce nothing. The tomato plant is one of the most strict plants when it comes to pollination. If the flowers missed it, they will be useless. If you are growing tomatoes outside you do not have to worry, because the pollination will be done by mainly wind or bees and on some occasions some other insects. We recommend that you try to pollinate your plant on a daily basis, but make sure to always have the AeroGarden lights on when you are doing it.
Week 8: The finish line
On week 8 your flowers should slowly start transforming into fruits. If they failed to do so, make sure to give them just a couple more days. But if your plant did not get any flowers by now, maybe it would be the right time to request a refund on them. Oh, and I almost forgot-keep pollinating them!
Week 9: Taste test-Hooray!
If you have followed all of the steps correctly, then you should by now be eating your fresh tomatoes. Do not use much force when you are harvesting your plant. Keep in mind that tomatoes are very sensitive to touch. Once I used too much force and broke one branch, that had about 5 tomatoes on it that will never ripen. Bon appetite!
Because tomatoes are one of the longest-lasting plants, your water might get really dirty. I personally would recommend that you change out the water in your system at least every 6 months. The ideal number is about 4 and a half months. When you are letting the water out you can also use that opportunity to clean your system a bit. Yo do not have to sanitize it, just make sure to clean it a little bit with a paper towel. If you lifted your lid, now would also be the perfect time to clip off some of the dead roots but only if there are any. If all of your roots look healthy, do not remove any of them. Clipping off the extra roots will take place when (and only if) you will decide to transplant your tomato seed pod outside.
Tomatoes can be grown in an aerogarden, but if you have a smaller model then I would recommend going with the smaller cherry tomato seed pod kit. The best one that I have tried is without a doubt Red Heirloom. You really want to take care of your plant and prune it for the best possible results. If you do, you can make your seed pods last even more than six months! There have been reports on amazon reviews saying that some tomatoes have lasted more than 210 days (7 months) and by the time this review was written the plant itself was still alive and kicking with more than 50 cherry tomatoes on it. Personally, the best I have achieved is exactly 371 days (12 months) but then I have decided to switch and try something new. And the taste? Those had to be one of the most delicious tomatoes I have ever tasted in my life. The best plants to go on your platform next to tomatoes are definitely herbs. You can try other plants too, but since this plant takes up so much space that you have to leave some slots free it would be smart to fill them up with something that will be able to grow in such a small space. Transplanting the plant will take you some time but will be worth it. The space in your system is limited but in your garden, there will be much more space for growth hence more fruit for your meals.
If you try this out please let me know how it worked out and what did they taste like in the comments!