Tomato seeds are in abundance, and growing tomatoes from seeds gives you so much more choice than buying tomato plants from a commercial garden centre.They do not often have an extensive range and with over 7000 to choose from you should be able to find one that you like.
You can purchase seeds from many different outlets – online, garden centres, some DIY shops and mail order. Often the mail order ones are little plug plants which are usually very good quality but I have to say for me there is just something about watching that first seedling poke its way out of the compost which I find sadly very satisfying.
Growing Tomatoes from Seed
- If this is your first time at growing tomatoes from seeds it doesn’t have to be an expensive venture seedlings can be grown in any little pot or container which has good drainage holes, yoghurt pots are really good and usually readily available.
- If you want to take this up as a hobby it is worth purchasing seed trays and a propagator, however, if you are just growing a couple of plants to have in a grow bag on your patio, balcony or in your hanging basket plastic bags with an elastic band round the top of the pot can be just as good as a propagator. It is always a good idea to grow a few more seeds than you are expecting to plant. Just in case one of those mishaps, which befall us all, like knocking plants over, or having some little blighter eat them.
- If you do have spare plants you can always give them to friends or neighbours and spread the word.Children love to grow plants and watch them develop you can get a competition going between siblings to see whose conditions get the best results and whose pops their heads up first. My children never really enjoyed tomatoes until they began growing them, there is something very satisfying about how great they taste when you have grown them yourselves especially for a child.
- Sow the seeds indoors if possible for quicker germination and keep them in a really light area, like your conservatory or windowsill so they don’t get too leggy searching for the light. The ideal temperature needs to be 18-21ºC (65-70ºF) and if you can use a propagator that will be a bonus. This acts as a mini-greenhouse for your plants, the bottom of a fizzy drinks bottle of the right size can be cut and placed over the pot with the same effect. Once the seedling appears and has cast off its seed pod the plants need to have air circulating or the seedling may rot therefore the top needs to be taken off the propagator.
- The seeds will germinate between, 8-12 days depending on the temperature.It is advisable to water young seedlings in the tray at the bottom so they can soak it up. Then they aren’t knocked over with watering the compost just needs to be moist.
If you fancy trying something from the heritage range of tomatoes you can link up with “The Heritage Seed Library” here in the UK or “The Seed Savers Exchange” in the US both of which have seed swap registers.
Saving Tomato Seeds
If you wish to save seeds from the Heritage tomatoes for the following year or to share you can:
- Carefully scoop out the seeds from your chosen tomato
- Place onto a plate taking care to separate them
- Allow them to dry out naturally
- Pop in a paper envelope and with details of the tomato and any special growing instructions
- Keep in a cool place either the fridge or the freezer – I put them in the freezer in freezer bags the zip-up ones are good.
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