Read on to find out how easy it is to grow tomato seedlings and how to have your own special tomato varieties.
Growing tomatoes from seed can open up a whole new world for gardeners, especially when it comes to unique or rare varieties and the inheritance of their favorable properties. While local nurseries only offer a few varieties as pre-grown seedlings, you can choose from dozens of tomato seed varieties. Growing tomatoes from seed is easy and needs just a little advance planning. Here’s how to start growing tomatoes from seed!
When to sow tomato seeds
Sow the seeds 6-8 weeks before the planned planting of the seedlings in the garden. In climates where frosts are expected in winter, plant the seedlings outdoors 2-3 weeks after the last frost, so start growing seedlings from seed 4-6 weeks before the expected last frost date.
How to grow tomato seedlings from seed
You can sow tomato seeds in small pots or trays filled with moist potting soil. Plant 2 tomato seeds in each pot. This will ensure that you have at least one seedling in each, in case some tomato seeds do not sprout for some reason.
Plant the tomato seeds about 3 times as deep as the size of the seed. This means about 3-6 mm, depending on the variety you grow.
After you have planted the tomato seeds, place the pots or seedling trays in a warm place. The fastest possible germination is expected in the temperature range between 21-27 °C. Heating from below can also help. Many gardeners know from experience that placing the germination tray on top of a refrigerator or other heating device can speed up the germination process.
After planting the tomato seeds, wait patiently for the seeds to sprout, which is expected within 1-2 weeks. A lower temperature results in a longer germination time, but in a warmer environment the seeds will sprout sooner.
After the tomato seeds have sprouted, you can remove the tray of small plants from the heating device, but keep it in a warm place after that too. Tomato seedlings need a lot of light, and make sure to keep their soil moist. Watering from below is best, but if this is not possible, water from above, but be careful not to let water touch the tender little tomato seedlings. In terms of light, a bright, south-facing windowsill is ideal, but a fluorescent lamp or light bulb placed a few centimeters above the seedlings will also do.
After the tomato seedlings have developed a pair of real leaves, water them with water-soluble tomato fertilizer.
If the tomato seedlings become leggy, it means they are not getting enough light. Either place the light source closer to the plants or increase the amount of light to which the seedlings are exposed.
If the seedlings take on a purple color, they need a little nutrient solution. If the tomato seedlings lie down suddenly, this is definitely a sign of seedling tilt.
All in all, growing tomatoes from seed is a fun way to enrich your garden with unique, rare varieties. Knowing how to germinate seeds and grow seedlings will give you valuable additional knowledge about plants.