Growing tomatoes from seed is easy!
It's that time again! We’re now in the first week of July and that means it’s time to start your tomatoes from seed if you plan on growing your own this Tomatoes Spring/Summer.
We've compiled a general guide to growing tomatoes from seed, to help you get started.
Growing Tomatoes from seed can be done with the assistance of a small hothouse, warm room in your home or similar. Bottom heat is also recommended. We use seedling tray heat mats, which can be purchased online cheaply or from most garden supply stores. The ideal temperature for getting Tomato seeds to germinate is around 18-20C. I use either punets, or seed trays with seed raising mix, or fine compost, either works well. Fill your pots with your, pat down the mix to remove any air pockets, space your seeds out, cover the seeds with a fine layer of the mix about twice the thickness of the seeds (a light covering), and use a spray bottle or mister to gently water them in and to continue watering them each day as required. It’s important that your seeds and their seed raising mix remains moist but not wet. The moisture (and heat) will help your seeds to swell and germinate.
The seed will germinate, and you’ll notice leaves start appearing in around 7-10 days. The first set of adult leaves (also called second leaves) in another 7 days. Do not feed your seedlings any nutrients until you start to notice some discoloration on the leaves. Gardeners often make the mistake of feeding them at this early stage and doing so will produce long leggy seedlings. When the first set of adult leaves appear, your work really begins! You will need to take your seedlings outdoors each day and let them sit in a covered position. If you’re using a small hothouse, you could simply open the zip or crack the lid of your humidity dome. The air circulation and natural environment will assist your seedlings to grow strong and roots will develop further. Once your seedlings are about 10cm tall (this may take 6-8 weeks) with several adult leaves it is time to pot them up into smaller pots, this step helps them to continue growing and developing, prior to planting out. During this time, you can start to feed them with a mild liquid feed of some sort once a week. I recommend a half strength fertiliser until planted out in the ground.
Companions: Tomatoes like to have companions, basil, marigolds, other herbs, and garlic, so you can start your seeds now for these also. Directly sow your companion seeds in a circle wherever you intend to plant a tomato, so that “X” marks the spot in the center for a tomato plant. Or raise your seeds in a hothouse and plant out at the same time as your tomato plants. The companion plants assist to keep your tomatoes free from pests.
- D&H Seed Harvest Co