Growing Tomatoes does not have to be complicated
Tomatoes are one of the most popular home-grown veggie there is. But some folks have made it seem so hard to grow them successfully. And, maybe you or someone you know tried and it just didn’t work.
This is the honest truth: you just need to know these basic steps and tips. You can grow your own tomatoes successfully. Let’s get started.
This is the First part of a whole series that teaches you how to grow tomatoes. Don’t miss out! Search for more tomato posts right here on Seasons of Devotions!
For early summer tomatoes, start your tomatoes 8 weeks early
If you wait to take these easy steps until the weather is warm and your garden is ready for other veggies to be planted, your tomato plants most likely will not mature at ideal times for a bountiful harvest. For example, my southern summer temperatures bring too many challenges to the plant. Tomatoes won’t set fruit in extremely hot weather. Ugh. All my hard work would be wasted. Northern gardeners will run out of warm temperatures that are ideal for tomatoes to ripen. Frost in the Fall will kill a tomato plant.
First, find out when the last frost date is for your area. Then, plant your seeds 8-10 weeks before that date. Here in the deep south, my last frost date is March 1st, so my personal deadline to get these 2 steps done is January 3!
It’s so easy! Simply scoop out the seeds from your favorite organic tomato. PLEASE make sure it’s not a hybrid variety. Go online to seed catalogs and read the information about your variety if at all possible. If your tomato is a hybrid, you may not get the kind of tomatoes you were hoping for. But I must admit, I took a chance with “Tomatoes on the Vine” and got exactly that! (They apparently aren’t hybrid but I had no way of knowing for sure.)
If your supermarket has organic, non-hybrid ripe tomatoes, all you have to do is cut the tomato open and scoop the seeds out. No need to soak them or dry them and that leads me to step two.
Why organic? It’s one more step of assurance that the genetics of the tomato has not been tampered with and your seeds will be true to the parent. So, organic and not hybrid is your best bet for a successful tomato harvest that you are hoping for.
Plant them! Really! It’s that easy! Remember-plant them 8 weeks before the last frost date for your area.
Three valuable tips in order to be a tomato planting pro.
Use a good soil that specifically marked “Seed Starter” soil. It will be a very light, sifted soil. Your tiny tomato seeds need to have the softest bed you can give them.
Plant them with only a light blanket of soil on top.
Water just as soon as you see that the soil is dry on top. My experience is that they need a gentle shower or drizzle every day.
Think of it this way. You will lay those dear little seeds on a soft bed, cover them with a light blanket, and keep the room comfy warm. I promise they will wake up soon and reward you with a beautiful new plant.
Read on for more details
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Now that you know the easy steps, here is a detailed, step-by-step tutorial on how to start tomatoes with the two easy steps.
One of my favorite varieties from the grocery store is “tomatoes on the vine”. These are a medium-sized tomato that is a good salad tomato and also makes great canned tomatoes. The plants that I have grown from these tomatoes have flourished and are the most productive variety I have ever grown. In fact, I learned this by mistake as they came up as volunteers in my compost pile. I was so surprised at how they out produced all the other varieties I had purchased from various seed suppliers.
What works in my zone and environment may not be the best for you. This is a very common mistake beginner gardeners make. To learn more about how to make a good choice of all your veggie seeds, read my post about how to plan your garden and get the FREE planner that goes with it. Here is the link to that post:
6 Important Questions That Will Make You a Successful Gardener ……”Success begins before you turn that first shovel full of dirt. The secret is in research and planning.”
Do your research! Plant only non-hybrid seeds. You’ll be glad you did.
An organic variety does not mean “not hybrid”. If possible, choose organic, non-hybrid tomatoes to save seeds from. If you are contemplating saving seeds from a tomato variety from a store or farmer’s market, google it to find out if it is a hybrid. I found out that my “tomatoes-on-the-vine” were not hybrid is because volunteers came up in my compost that were true to the parent they had come from.
Step one tutorial
- Buy the tomato from your local grocery store. Be sure they are truly non-hybrid tomatoes. Organic is best.
- Slice the top off of one tomato.
- Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. (I use a grapefruit spoon.) Place on a small plate, goop and all. Spread them out for easy access in a few minutes.
If you want to dry them for future use, smear/spread them out on a paper towel. No need to wash the seeds. When the seeds and the paper towel are completely dry, fold up the paper towel and put it into a labeled Ziploc bag. Later, when you want to plant the seed, just tear the bit of paper that the seed is on and plant the whole thing as described below. The paper will disintegrate.
Step Two Tutorial
- Fill seed cups level with the top with seed starter soil. Do not pack the soil down. The soil will settle when you water.
- Lay two seeds per cup on top of the soil.
- Sprinkle more seed starter soil on top-about 1/4 inch of “blanket” soil.
- GENTLY water-the soil will settle a little to just the right height. Use the “mist” setting on a hose nozzle. If you water by hand, do your best to “drizzle” the water onto the soil.
- GENTLY water as soon as the soil appears to have dried out on top.
- Keep them warm(ish). I don’t move mine indoors unless frost is a threat. But remember, I live in Florida! We have warm days throughout the winter and rarely need to bring inside or enclose them in my homemade mini-greenhouse.
- When the seedlings get about 3-4 inches tall, you can tell which of the seedlings per cup is the strongest. Cut off the weak one at the base and let the strong one grow a few more weeks.
On to How to Transplant Your Tomato Plant and Give It a Good Start
Now that you have your new baby tomato plant, it will soon be ready to transplant in a few weeks. CLICK HERE to read how to transplant your tomato plant at How to Make Sure Your Tomato Plants Have the Best Start Ever
Easy, right? You’ll enjoy home-grown tomatoes in just a few months. Besides, it’s really cool to grow your own food.
Now, go to the store asap and see how easy it is! Summer will be here before you know it and you will want your tomatoes to be ready to plant before then.
And may all you weeds be wildflowers!
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