For early summer tomatoes, start your tomatoes NOW!
If you wait until the weather is warmer, your plants will not mature until mid-summer. Our summer temperatures bring too many challenges to the plant and all your hard work could be wasted. It’s best to get an early start. Here is a step by step tutorial on how to start tomatoes from seed.
My favorite garden tomato is simply, “tomatoes on the vine”, found in your local grocery store. Plants grown from these tomatoes have flourished and are the most productive variety I have ever grown. They are very versatile, great for fresh salads, or for cooking. Admittedly, they are not organic in the strictest sense of the definition. I doubt they are hybrid (because they grow true to the original fruit), but I feel sure that the variety has been developed. If you are wanting to grow only heritage varieties, they won’t be what you are looking for.
Harvesting tomato seeds is so easy, it’s downright lazy!
- Buy the tomato from your local grocery store. Be sure they are truly “tomatoes on the vine”. I have not personally tried any other variety from the grocery store. But feel free to experiment-that’s part of the fun of gardening.
- 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, spread them out on a paper towel. No need to wash the seeds. 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.
- You will want to use seed starter soil for a high rate of germination. This soil is labeled specifically, “Seed Starter”. (It’s not really dirt.) I purchase mine from the local Lowe’s. Planting directly into the garden can be done, but in this season of cold weather, they will suffer from the cold and may not become a healthy plant as a result. If you have seen the cute ways of covering the seedlings with a cup, well, that makes a great experiment to try but that’s really only meant for an unexpected frost. You will want to plant more in cups, in a protected area, easily accessed from your house doors, just in case.
- You can purchase a seed tray, but you can also use old yogurt or fruit cups. Be sure to poke holes in the bottom of the cups to drain excess water. Seeds do not like to be drowned! Note: I reuse seed trays for years, until they fall apart. Your seeds won’t care.
- Fill the tray or cups to within ½ inch from the top with the seed starter.
- Carefully place 2 seeds per cup. Try to separate them by ½ inch or so. You will be cutting off the weaker of the two if both germinate and successfully begin growing.
- Now, carefully sprinkle ¼ inch of the seed starter soil over the entire top of the tray.
- Place in a location where they can enjoy full sun at least most of the day.
- Carefully water with a fine mist or a dribble from your watering can. Be careful to not splash. If you do, the seeds may disappear!
WARNING: Water daily in the same way, EVERY DAY. The seeds will sprout within 10 days, maybe before then. You may choose to cover the cups with plastic wrap but don’t be fooled, they will still need watering, likely every day. I found that covering is an unnecessary step. Once they have sprouted, continue watering carefully, every day.
Your newly planted seeds and seedlings are very tender. Don’t forget them. If the temperature falls below 40 degrees, bring them inside. Be sure to take them back outside as soon as the temperature rises. They love the sunshine.
I have a little “mini-greenhouse” that my husband built for me. Mine stay in that unless it’s a really hard freeze, as in, below freezing point. That post will be shared soon.
Now, go to the store asap and get those tomatoes started. Summer will be here before you know it and you will want your tomatoes harvested by early Summer. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you, step by step, what to do next.
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