When Should I Start Tomato Seeds?


This is one of my favorites! Pink flesh with hardly any seeds in it, low acidity, and huge! To order on Amazon, click the pic.

When DOES one start tomato seeds?

That’s a good question!  I have had many people ask me about this, especially momma friends who would like to do this as a project with their kids.

Roma Tomatoes are a great for making sauces, and canning because they produce a ton of fruit and the fruit is very meaty, resulting in thick delicious sauces. Click the pic to order from Amazon.
When should I buy tomato seeds?

Usually, the best time to buy them is in January of the year that you plant to grow the tomatoes.  That’s when the seed catalogs start rolling out, and garden centers start putting out the seed racks.  I would recommend taking your kids to the garden center to help you select seeds they think would be fun to try!  But if you would rather just order on line, I have provided a few links for you.

This is the Hillbilly Potato Leaf Heirloom Tomato. It has beautiful flamey striations in the fruit and is a delicious blend of flavor between a zesty red and a milder yellow tomato. Click the pick to order seed from Amazon.

 

How long does it take to grow a tomato plant from seed?

To get a tomato plant that is big enough to grow outside, similar in size to a plant that might come in a 4pack at the garden center…..8-12 weeks

Growing Time Depends on what variety of Tomato You Grow,

so look at the back of the tomato seed packet, and the directions will tell you how many weeks to start indoors before you plan to plant the tomatoes outside.

When Should I plant my Tomato Seeds?

This answer depends on where you live.

  1. Look at the  back of the seed packet
  2. find out how many weeks your tomato seeds take to grow 
  3. Find out when the FROST FREE DATE is in your area
  4. pick a date that you plan to plant your tomatoes outside (WHEN THERE IS NO MORE DANGER OF FROST)
  5. Count backwards from your outdoor planting date, the number of weeks it says on the packet.
  6. VOILA! That’s when you should plant the tomato seeds!

If you live where I do, in Iowa, the date you start your seeds will be later than someone who wants to start seeds down in Kansas City.  The reasoning is because of FROST!

Tomatoes are weenies when it comes to frost!  Nothing is worse than to nurture a crop of baby plants for weeks and then to set them out too early only to be destroyed by a late frost!  It’s devastating!  Be wary of planting your baby plants out on the first nice day we get in the spring.  They need to be acclimated, or hardened off to their new outdoor environment.

In horticulture, we use a term called THE FROST FREE DATE:  the date after which your area should no longer have chances of frost that could kill all of your seedlings.

 

Frost Free Date for the Quad Cities:  May 10th ish:  It’s always iffy, I usually wait until around the 15th or 20th just to be safe, unless if I have a plan to cover my seedlings in the event that we do get a late frost.

Example:

I buy a packet of seed that says to start seeds indoors 8 weeks before the frost free date in my area.  My frost free date is May 10th.  So I count backwards 8 weeks from May 10th and I get March 10th.  I should start my seeds on or around March 10th.  If I would like to have a larger tomato plant when it comes time to plant outside, then I would want to start my seeds a few weeks earlier.

What kind of pot do I need to start tomato seeds in?

I have tried lots of things, and failed at lots of things in this department.  I have had the most success with peat pellets by Jiffy.  They are compressed discs of peat moss with a little hole in the center where you can just drop the seed in!  Then you put them in a saucer, or an old clear salad box that you get from the grocery store, you know, the ones with the lid on them, and the whole box is clear?  They make a perfect miniature greenhouse for your tomato plants.

1.You set the discs in the salad box,

2.pour about an inch or 2 of water in the bottom,

3.and they will expand to about 4 times their size.

4.Then you can drop your seeds in the hole in the center of the disc,

5.close the lid to the box, and you have your very own growing chamber!

These are what the Jiffy peat pellets look like before they get wet. Click the pick if you want to order online.

 

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