Starting Tomatoes From Seed – The Whys and Hows

If you’re dreaming of gardening, springtime can seem like it’s ages away. Luckily, late winter is the best time to start tomato seeds inside.  Since well-established plants are available in abundance at garden centers and nurseries once the weather is warm enough to transplant, you might wonder if it’s worth the effort to start your own.  If you’re still uncertain as to why to go through the process, consider these points.

Variety:   Nurseries usually carry hardier tomatoes, due to short growing seasons. If your garden center doesn’t offer your preferred species, you can start it from seed instead.

Healthier:  Plants – especially tomatoes –  can catch diseases easily, so you don’t know what bugs you may be bringing home with your plant. At home, you control what the plants are exposed to.

Grow Your Favorites:   When you find a tomato that fits perfectly in your garden, you can save the seeds for next year.

All you need to do is:  Remove and rinse the seeds; dry them; seal in a labeled envelope; keep them in a dark, cool place.

Starting Tomato Plants From Seed Is Easy

To start your seeds, you’ll need the following:

Soil
Spray bottle
Containers
Seeds
Plastic wrap

Instructions:

Container Prep:   Clean the containers first, especially if they have been used for planting before.  A rinse in a weak bleach solution will kill any harmful bacteria.  Fill the containers to an inch from the rim with damp soil.

Seed planting:  Poke two or three holes in each container with your little finger. Once you drop a seed in each hole, pat the soil gently over it, and label the containers.

Mini-Greenhouse:  To turn each container into a greenhouse, cover it with lightly with the plastic wrap and set them in the sun. Once your seedlings peek out, remove the plastic.

Nurture:   Keep the soil damp and rotate the seedlings if they start bending. Once the second set of leaves appear, add half-strength liquid fertilizer once a week.

Repot:   When the plants are three inches in height and have their second set of true leaves, replant each one into their own pot.

Ready Them For the Garden:  To harden the plants, blow a fan on them for an hour every day. If it’s over 50 degrees outside, set them out for an hour instead.

Move Them Outside:  Once frost is passed and temperatures are over 50 degrees at night, move them into your garden. When you plant them up to the first set of leaves, they’ll grow more roots and have a sturdier base.  From there, watch your plants flourish and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Whether your garden consists of edibles, flowers, foliage plants, or a mix of all of these, your landscape can be transformed with the right design.