Week 10 For Tomatoes

 Week 14 in 2010 was April 5 - 11

Starting Tomatoes From Seed

This year we have decided to limit the number of plants that we start from seed and for the most part buy seedlings from our local garden center. However I need to start two varieties of tomato from seed this year because I’m going to really work on having ripe tomatoes before the 4th of July.

So I’m starting from seed the variety “Fourth of July” and the variety “Legend”. The beginning process I use is a bit unorthodox, but it works. I use either paper towels or high-quality paper napkins and soak them in warm tea overnight. I then place six or eight seeds on a tea soaked paper towel, fold it up and place the packet in a plastic bag and set it on top of the refrigerator where it is warm. While normally tomato seeds will take from 7 to 12 days to germinate, my system produces germinated seeds in 2 to 3 days.

I then very carefully plant the sprouted seed in what’s called an APC {see photo}. This is a self watering seed starting device put out by Gardeners Supply Company {www.gardeners.com} or Lee Valley Tools {   }. By sprouting the seed ahead of time I don’t have to worry about wasting seeds. I use a soil less mixture to plant the seeds, usually a combination of Canadian spaghnum peat moss and vermiculite. For examples of seed starting devices go to seed systems.


I place the planted APC under florescent lights that have been connected to a eider that  keeps them lighted for 16 hours each day. The bulbs are placed about 1 inch above the seedlings. As the seedlings mature I keep raising the lights to stay about 1 inch above the plants.


When my seedlings get to be about 2 to 3 inches tall with nice thick stalks I will transplant them from the APC to individual large foam coffee cups that I have saved over the year. I slice holes in the bottom of each container so I know it will drain very well. Just as with the APC I keep my transplanted seedlings under fluorescent lights for the next three or four weeks.

I will leave the details for placing my tomatoes outside for a later post.

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