If you thought that it’s difficult growing tomato plants from seeds you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Large varieties of tomato seed packets are easily available and it is easy and rewarding to experiment with them.
Start in early spring and grow your tomato plants indoors for about six to eight weeks before taking them to an outside garden. Place your tomato plants in trays that can be positioned into the sunlight. Tomato seeds grow best under warm conditions so make sure they are placed in a warm area of your house or near a windowsill exposed to the sun.
Scatter the seeds thinly over the potting compost and place them no more than about a quarter inch underneath the soil. Place plastic or saran wrap ove the trays to prevent the soil from drying out. You should remove the plastic wrap once the first seedlings begin to appear. Keep the soil moist but be careful not to use too much water on the seedlings.
Light is quite important. Turn the trays every day or two so that the seedlings all get plenty of sunlight. If the plants are separated from light they may grow thin and leggy, or they may grow bent as they grow towards a light source, so make sure light is plentiful.
You must transplant the seedlings into individual pots when they have grown to 1 to 2 inches in height. Carefully lift them by the leaves NOT the stem since at this early stage the stem can be damaged.
Dig holes in the pots just large enough for the roots of each seedling and back fill the holes with compost after you have placed the seedlings in them. Immediately water the seedlings after transplanting.
When you back fill the holes, press the compost lightly around the roots to insure good contact. It is quite important that the seedlings be kept in the sunlight just as before so continue to rotate the pots if necessary every 1 to 2 days just as you did before
When the tomato seedlings have grown to six to eight inches, you should transplant them again into larger pots and “harden” them before placing them outside. This simply means that you must gradually acclimatize them to the uneven and often colder temperatures of the outside. Do this by placing them outdoors in the sun for a few hours each day until they are hardened off.
Once the tomato seedlings have each grown six leaves and the weahter has become warmer, it is time to permanently plant them outdoors. Bury the seedlings in the outdoor soil so that the bottom two leaves are buried in the soil.
Tomato plants can grow roots all along the stem, so that burying the bottom two leaves will insure a stronger, sturdier root system that can better withstand the weight of healthy tomato fruit.
You want to avoid a weak plant that will allow the tomato fruit to drop to the ground as this will rot the fruit. Stronger plants mean stronger harvests and delicious fruit.
Nothing compares with the satisfaction of tasting homegrown tomatoes that were grown from seeds.