Tomatoes are a favorite food for many people. After all, you can use tomatoes in salads and to make sauces for pasta and pizza, so many people associate tomato-based foods with some of the more enjoyable times in their lives (who didn’t enjoy a pizza party as a kid?).
The difficulty with tomatoes, though, is that they won’t grow well in all temperatures. Karen Carter writes,
Freezing temperatures retard the germination of the seeds and kills new tomato seedlings. Ideal germination temperatures fall between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the seedlings appear, they grow best at 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. When the temperature drops below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, the seedlings grow very slowly and the summer harvest is delayed.
Carter also notes that tomato plants stop producing fruit (the part that you and I eat) when in a temperature below 55 degrees Fahrenheit or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. So, if you want tomatoes year round (or when off-grid and at your bug out location), what can you do?
Fortunately, you have the option of creating your own indoor garden so that you can grow tomatoes year-round, and, if space is at a premium, many plants, including tomatoes can be grown in a hanging garden. Kristen Duever gives us the details on starting our own hanging garden:
Since you won’t want to move your plants around too much once you get them started, your first step is to find the location in your home where you’d like to grow your vegetables. Ideally, it should be an area that gets plenty of sun, such as a south-facing window. Natural lighting is best for this type of growing, as setting up grow lights can get rather awkward for a hanging garden. (Although, with the right arrangement, grow lights can work.) Also, for an upside-down hanging garden, you must use a plant that has been started; planting from seed in an upside-down pot is extremely difficult.
You will need a place where you can hang your containers, so you’ll either want to install sturdy hooks into the ceiling or have some kind of rack system. Whatever you choose, you will want to make sure that it can support the weight of the containers and potting soil, along with mature plants. Since some soil and water will come through the bottom of the container via watering, it is also a good idea to prepare a tray or mat underneath your hanging garden to prevent making a mess.
The next step is choosing containers suitable for the types of plants that you will be growing. Drill holes in the bottom of the containers (about 2 inches in diameter for larger containers and slightly less for smaller ones). To make the work a little easier, find a place to hang the containers while you are planting so you won’t have to flip containers around.
Choose a good potting soil that has been amended with compost. You also will need something to anchor the plant in place in the bottom of the container, such as fabric, cardboard or foam. Add a slit to this material and work the plant’s roots through the material into the container and then fill in soil around it. If you wish to optimize your space even more, you can use the top of the container to grow things such as salad greens, herbs or even radishes. Just be sure that whatever you plant in the same container has similar growing requirements (sunlight and watering needs etc.). The initial planting tends to be a bit more labor intensive than it would be with an upright garden. But many indoor gardeners find the space-saving benefits to be well worth the extra effort at the beginning.
Duever does mention that, while you can grow any kind of tomato in a hanging garden, cherry tomatoes tend to work best because the smaller fruit that these plants produce are not as heavy.
Fortunately, because this is a relatively easy way to grow your plants, you can start this process now so that bugging out with your plants is as easy as packing and going and setting up at your new location (but, at least, you won’t be starting from scratch). This means that you can both develop your skills in this area now and also already enjoy the fruits of your labor (pun intended).
Do you have other ways that you grow tomatoes year-round? Tell us below.