Sustainable Dreams

How to grow tomatoes from seed

Tomato seeds should be germinated inside, approximately 6-8 weeks before the last frost date for your area.
Select a fresh source for all of your seeds. If your seeds are old, the germination rate dwindles. Try to always get seeds at 1 or 2 years. Packaging and storage of seeds is as important as the age of the seeds, or more so.

Step 1:

***A commercially prepared seed starting mix, usually a combination of peat moss, vermiculite and per lite, is recommended.Using soiless growing medium such as American Educational Growing Medium, 20lbs or Nature's Footprint 650gm Coconut Coir Brick, Medium, fill some seedling containers 3/4 full. Use containers that have drainage holes so the soil can drain excess water. 720 Cells Seedling Starter Trays for Seed Germination +5 Plant Labels (120, 6-cell Trays)

Step 2:

Thoroughly wet the growth medium and leave it over night to be sure it has an equal distribution of moisture. The mix should be damp like a sponge after wringing it out. Not too wet and should not have dry spots.

Step 3:

Plant seeds 1/8 inch deep into prepared trays. You may put seeds very close, as the seedlings will be separated as soon as they grow their first true leaves.

Press growth medium a bit to firm up the medium over the seed.

Cover seeded trays with plastic to keep moisture in.

Step 4:

Light is not necessary for germination, but the trays must be kept in a warm place, and not outside at this stage.

Move trays into sunlight (sunny window) as soon as you observe them beginning to sprout. They will reach for the sun and grow quickly.

A heated greenhouse is ideal. Otherwise use indoor grow lights or direct sun windows. If you use grow lights, keep them on the seedlings 16 hours/day.
First true leaves

Step 5:

Watch your plants as they grow. First will develop 2 soft leaves or cotyledons. These are not the first true leaves as they will die when the true first leaves come in.

Once the first true leave are developed, it is now time to transplant each seedling into a bigger container. The plants do well with this extra step as they are able to grow a stronger root system.

Plant each seedling deeply, shortening the height of the seedling.
You may use diluted down, light fertilizer at this time if necessary.

Lots of sunlight...Don't forget!!!

Step 6:

Introduce the plants to outdoor conditions slowly. This is called "hardening off". If it is not done slowly your plants may be shocked.

The longer the plants remains indoors, the harder it will be to healthily incorporate them to the outdoors. Avoid full sun and wind when you first move them outside.

Once your plants stabilize after transplanting, even a bit before depending on growth, begin strengthening your plants by slowly introducing them to the outdoor environment. Put them outside in a make shift green house or just on a sunny patio during the warmest parts of the day. Bring them back inside when the temperature drops each time. Doing this will harden off your plants and make them stronger to gradually get used to the elements of being outside.

If really cold weather is in forecast <40F (4C), it is best to bring the plants back inside. Freezing temperatures will destroy your plants (and it happens fast).

Step 7:

When, and only when all danger of frost is over, transplant your young plants into larger containers or directly into the ground. Either method you choose, they should be place outside and planted in fertile, loose soil.