Learn how to germinate tomatoes easily at home! You will get a complete idea about picking the tomatoes, harvesting the seeds, knowing the sowing time, place, container type, potting-mix, step by step sowing method, and watering. For the price of one seed packet, you can grow 10 times the amount of tomato plants versus buying an already grown seedling plant.
After sowing, the tomatoes need to be re-potted twice. Within 3 months, you will be able to relish in organic home-grown juicy ripe tomatoes!
1. Choosing the Tomato Seed Type
Firstly, you can choose as per seed category which covers- long season, short season, determinate & indeterminate types.
Secondly, you can opt for the popular open-pollinated heirloom tomatoes such as Cherry, Grape, Plum, Amish Paste, Cherokee Green/Purple, San Marzano, Rose, Yellow Pear, & Black Krim.
Typically, dry tomato seeds are the best! The dry seeds have a “furry” seed coating attaches to the soil. Additionally, the coating discharges chemicals that support germination.
2. Place & Timing
Tomato seeds should be started indoors! You may place them near a warmly lit window ledge or a greenhouse. This leaves ample time for the seeds to grow to a healthy size that is suitable for a successful transfer to a larger pot or garden area outdoors.
When to start? Typically, about 1½ to 2 months before the last frost date is great time to begin sowing your seeds indoor!
For example, in Ojai, California, the 2021 last frost date is approximately March 22nd, meaning you can transplant the small tomato plants to your outdoor garden around late March 2021. You can check the last frost in your area through a quick google search or by checking the farmer’s almanac for your area.
The tiny mud/peat pots, plastic planting trays, small-sized paper cups, or re-usable items like yogurt containers serve the purpose well. When re-using, ensure they are clean and don’t contain any salts or old soil. Washing the containers with warm soapy water does the job!
Also, punch holes underneath the selected container for good drainage. Make sure never to use large containers as the excessive minerals in large-quantity potting mix can result in seedling failure.
4. Potting Mix
You can use premium quality seed-starting mix which is a no-soil combination of perlite & peat. Other than this, any sterile potting mix or multi-purpose compost can be used too. If you want to kick it up a notch, you can also make your own soil!
For the seeds to sprout into a healthy plant, the starting mix should be within 6.0-6.8 pH.
The starting temperature ought to be between 70-80° F or 21-27° C. To maintain the temperature at night, you may use heat mats, bulbs, or heating lamps.
Whatever soil you use, make sure that it drains well. Avoid using sand or garden soil because they tend to hold water, can cause the seed to rot, and often contain organisms that affect the germination process.
5. Sowing Procedure
· Begin by filling each pot with a well-draining premium quality soil mix, approximately 3-4 inches deep. Fill the gaps and push out any air pockets.
· Make a hole, approximately ¼ inch deep with a pen, or your finger, in the center.
· Place 1 seed in the hole.
· Cover the seed with a light layer of the seed-starting mix and pat gently to ensure contact between the seed and the soil mix.
· Wet the top layer by watering it with a spray bottle.
· Finally, label/write the tomato variety name and the sowing date. This helps calculate the re-potting time, and will help you keep track of your multiple seeds!
Keep the tray in a warm airy spot away from direct light. After 5-7 days when the seeds break-out and are visible at the surface, place the pot/tray in a fully lit sunny spot (most preferably by the window).
Maintaining the potting-mixes moisture is vital for tomato seed sprouting. Try to use filtered water and water the seedlings from beneath. Try to avoid watering the tomatoes from the top, as it can encourage stem rot. Also, you may sprinkle some water two times every day or whenever you notice the top layer is dry.
The target is to dampen the soil without making it soggy. Thus, a mist-spray bottle works great!
That's it! With the proper care, you can grow your own tomato seeds and enjoy (nearly) endless tomato harvests.
Be sure to check out what seeds I'm growing this year, they'll be available in my store.