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help needed for tomato plant

I have what i'm pretty sure is a tomato plant, that grew from a seed in a washing up scourer, so I've put it in a pot, complete with the scourer, which i pinned down to the soil so the roots wouldn't have any air gaps. it seems to be doing pretty well in my south west facing first floor Yorkshire window, but I know this is completely the wrong time of year, so it's going to need help.

I'm not fussed about fruit, though some would be nice, but I'd just like it to survive.

What should I do now? I've bought a grow lamp from Amazon, but the instructions are so minimal, I don't really know what to do with it.



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  • I'm hoping this is a serious post but, err, how you managed to grow a tomato plant in a scouring pad (with all the soap and zero nutrients) I have no idea.

    Tomato plants are generally treated as annuals, so most people are removing and composting them now. If you're just trying to grow it as a house plant (and not sure why as there are many house plants that will be far more rewarding in terms of flowers etc at this time of year), it won't need a grow light, just put it on a south facing window ledge and water it when the compost and scouring pad :o dries out. There's a sentence I never expected to write.

    You'll be able to keep it alive over winter and, given the right care, you'll get some flowers and maybe tomatoes next summer.

    I'd suggest the "grow light" is pretty worthless. Plants require specific spectrum lighting to grow, flower and fruit, so although there are specialized LED solutions and T5 tubes and halides etc available, they don't look anything like that Amazon purchase and are probably more expensive. You don't need a grow light anyway, just a south facing window ledge will be fine.

    But, as above, there are far more rewarding house plants you could try!


  • FireFire LondonPosts: 7,173
    edited 10 October
    Bless your heart. And welcome to the forum @colmruhpBr6U . It will be really interesting to see what happens if you try to over-winter your tom in a flat. I have friends that grew toms inside in flats this summer, because they didn't know otherwise, and it worked pretty well. No fruit as no pollination, but the plants themselves thrived. Do you have any outside space to put your tom into, if it makes it to the spring? They usually need a lot of sun.

    @strelitzia32 - Yorkshire windowsill might well not be bright enough to get a tomato through the winter - I guess that's why the OP bought a sun lamp.
    Seeds don't need earth to germinate, just some kind of matrix to put roots into.

    I'm not sure if the OP's aim is to grow fruit through the winter or postpone fruiting until next summer.  This site suggests that growing toms indoor with a lamp is a possiblity; As the writer terms it "the mythical winter tomato". Or just to keep the plant alive. There are a whack of vids on Youtube on how to do it.

    If anyone can get the cherished plant through the winter, then it's all the growers on this forum (though they probably won't agree how best to do it in a flat). I hope the forum members will be encouraging of this heart felt project. :)

    Colm, please do keep us updated on what happens.
  • Thank you very much. Yes, it's perfectly serious! :) This was not intentional at all. The scourer was by the side of the sink, on its way to the bin, when I noticed a little tiny shoot. And I thought, this plant badly wants to grow, so I'd like to help it. So I'm not growing it for aesthetic reasons, just because I would like it to live. At that point I didn't even know what it was, it could've been a weed for all I knew. I kept the scourer simply because I didn't want to damage the roots.

    I only have the options of south west or north east facing windows, unless I put it in my bedroom, which has a velux window. Maybe it could join my Mum's Hoya Bella and spider plants, which are also up there.

    It just has ordinary compost at the moment, should I put some perlite in it?

    Do I need special food, or will Baby Bio be okay?
  • FireFire LondonPosts: 7,173
    If there is earth under the scourer and there is a good root system, you should be able to cut the scourer off. See if there are any roots poking out of the bottom of the pot. If so, it would need potting on to a bigger pot.

    I wouldn't feed it anything - but it does kind of depend what the aim is. If you are just trying to get it through the winter until you can get it outside, I would just keep it going - not trying to get it big. Tomatoes in their natural habitat are perennials. They only die off in Britain because they can't stand the cold. They need very warm, tropical climates to thrive outside all year round.
  • strelitzia32strelitzia32 Posts: 719
    edited 10 October
    Ok, so as this is indeed a serious question, my apologies for thinking otherwise!

    The plant actually looks pretty healthy so far, so you've done a good job. I'd suggest trying to cut away as much of the scourer as possible without damaging roots because you'll want to repot it at some point and you want to minimize the roots growing through the scourer (you usually bury tomato plants up to their first leaves when repotting, but don't worry about this just now). Don't worry about adding perlite or changing the compost just yet.

    You should remove the plastic tie and replace it with soft jute, twine or string, otherwise you run the risk of damaging the stem.

    As for feeding, you don't need to worry about this too much. There will be plenty of nutrients in the fresh compost to keep it growing for a couple of months, and then you can use your baby bio diluted 50% down as a weak feed (or seaweed feed if you have it) . Don't over feed as you can "burn" the plant.

    Do you have a link to the light you bought from Amazon? If you have a link, or the full description, we might be able to tell if it's a proper full spectrum light or if it's not helpful to your plant.

    2 final questions. How long ago did you spot the seedling and put it in compost? And where have you kept it since you potted it?


    @Fire they might not need earth but it takes a tom seed, say, 10+ days to germinate? So it's survived a good number of days in an old washing up scourer, filled with oils and soap, dunked in hot water and rubbed over dishes, soaking wet for long periods. And look at the photos, that's a well used scourer, hence my scepticism... Forget pyrophytic germination, I think this could be the world's toughest seed! 
  • philippasmith2philippasmith2 Posts: 9,404
    I don't find the scourer thing difficult to imagine - if you have eaten tomatoes and left a tads (including a seed ) on the plate/chopping board or whatever, wash up, put the scourer to one side and the trapped seed thinks "wow - I've had a warm shower, time to grow " ;) .  Considering that toms will germinate quite happily after having gone thru the gut of a tortoise ( and are often more flavourful if left to their own devices ), it isn't unusual.
    As @Fire says, compost, warmth and good light will hopefully be sufficient to keep your tom alive for next year.
    Good luck :)  
  • FireFire LondonPosts: 7,173
    I imagine the scourer was left on the side, not in use. You can grown beans and cress in kitchen paper, so it seems fairly fine to growing a tom seedling on a foam pad. Maybe the OP has found and new approach and should patent it asap.  B)

  • philippasmith2philippasmith2 Posts: 9,404
    Given a bit of damp and warmth, they'll grow on practically anything.  I often think that if President Trump - as a hothead - stood out in the rain for long enough, he'd prove quite efficient as a propagator :D
  • FireFire LondonPosts: 7,173
    :D
  • thank you everyone for your thoughts. please forgive me, i’m new to this interface, and i don’t know how to reply to specific messages, not on my phone anyway.

    thank you Fire, for your welcome. i’m not specifically looking for fruit, though i do have a great green tomato chutney recipe. at first i didn’t even sort of plant it was, it just seemed to be growing against the odds, and i’ve always been a supporter of the underdog!

    not only is it a Yorkshire windowsill, it’s one in a valley!

    yes i do have some outside space. it needs a bit of clearing out though!

    will do the rest of this reply when i’m next back at my computer, as all this scrolling is getting a bit much! :)

    it was definitely in need of repotting, and i cut off the scourer. and replaced the plastic tie with string.
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