Shasta County, California Freelance Writer

Start Tomatoes Early from Seed

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Starting Tomatoes From Seed

You might wonder why bother starting your tomato plants from seed when you can go to your local home center store and pick up healthy little plants. For your first endeavor, that might be the best way, they have the most successful variety for your planting zone. You don’t want a failure your first year out.

 

Are you game for a new experience? Unusual varieties are found in seed form. Heirloom tomatoes, for the adventurous gardener. Go online and search for special catalogs or websites to acquire the seeds.

 

Taking care of the seedlings

From a seed to a large enough plant to go outside in the garden takes 6 to 8 weeks. Plan your seeds start around this info.

 

You plant your seeds in a pot or tray. Sprinkle a few seeds over the tray or pot that has potting compost. Make sure they don’t dry out while germinating; you could add cling film to the top of the tray to prevent this. When they appear, remove the film.

 

Be careful not to over water your seedlings. Tomatoes like moist soil, but don’t want to drown. They require sunlight and warmth. Place in a sunny window and turn every few days, this will help to keep them grow straight. If given enough sunlight, they should not be thin and leggy.

 

When your little seedlings are 2 inches tall, transplant into individual pots. Lift them carefully by the leaves to prevent damage to roots or stem. In the new pot, make a hole big enough for the roots, back fill, press down to ensure no gap around the roots, then water.

 

Hardening your tomato plants

Continue with sunlight and watering. When your seedlings are 7 inches tall, transplant them to a larger pot. To help them adjusted to the outdoors, take them outside for a few hours each day.

 

Transplant your tomato plants

The big day has come, the weather is ideal for them at night and they have at least 6 leaves. Time for the last transplanting! To grow a strong plant that will take the weight of the fruit, be sure to plant deep enough so that only the top 4 leaves are above the ground. The stem below the ground will develop roots, making the plant much more stable and ready to hold your much awaited harvest!

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