Starting Tomatos Indoors

conace55(z5 CO)March 28, 2009

Although I'm already a week later than I wanted to be, I am wanting to plant tomato seed indoors. I know that I've seen a thread on this forum with some steps or at least some helpful hints on the subject. Although I've reread several threads, I can't seem to find what I was looking for.

I know the process is pretty straight forward, but I want to do everything I can to insure my success. I remember Skybird saying to wet the seed starting medium beforehand. And there was something about warmth.

Anyone have a better memory than I do? I'd appreciate a link to the thread if you can remember it.


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Connie, I'd do my best to give them optimum conditions to hurry their development along but your garden environment is no doubt different. An early maturing tomato variety shouldn't have much trouble producing a crop for you, anyway.

First, I would soak the starting mix for an hour or two in a basin. Then allow the container to drain overnight.

Sow the seed on the surface then cover with about 1/4 inch of dry soil.

Optimum germination temperature for tomatoes must be about 75° to 90°F. They will germinate at lower temperatures but you will probably wait a week longer.

Then, they should go in your sunniest window with temps about 60° at night and 65° plus during the day. Bottom water until they can stand up to a sprinkler. Allow the surface of the soil to dry between waterings but do not allow the soil to dry to the point of the plants wilting. After about 5 weeks, I give them a little fertilizer.

. . . my 2¢'s.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 8:15PM
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My target date to plant out in the garden is 1st week of June. I'll start my seeds about mid-April. I use a seedling heating mat, others use heating pads, the top of a fridge, some place warm. I get the planting medium wet, seed on top, and cover the whole tray with a dome, which keeps the humidity up. Steve's covering the seed with a 1/4 inch serves the same purpose. They will sprout in 4 days. Then I take the dome off, leave them no more than 24 more hours on the mat, and then put them in the brightest sun-light I have - otherwise they get leggy in a big hurry.

I leave them in the 'seedling' bed for a couple weeks, they start to grow a true leaf, and then I tease the little guys apart and transplant them into 2 x 2 x 4 inch deep pots - the transplanting some how 'shocks' the plant into growing a lot more roots - or so they say.

Then I fertilize, move them around, make sure some breeze stiffens them up, and take them out when they're about a foot high.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 8:44PM
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Now my 2 cents. Be sure to use seed starting mix not potting soil for better results. Use plastic or a bag until the first leaves pop through for humidity then take off or you will have problems. I use 6 packs to start using 2 seeds per little pot and push down the depth of a pencil lead. A heating mat while making them germinate faster but is not necessary. You want them to have good light or they will get leggy. When they grow one way then turn the tray to make them grow the other. Brush with a hand, blow on or put a fan on them to help the stems get stronger. When they get 2 true leaves then pot them up using potting soil then. I like to use yoghurt cups with holes punched in the bottom as I can then write the variety on them. Of course use a tray or a meat tray to keep the water off your window sill or furniture. A little liquid fertilizer greatly watered down will help and I fertilize when translplanting outside and again when the blossoms come on and any time they may look a little puny.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 12:16AM
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I don't want to be pickey but please, please, POTTING MIX, not potting soil.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 8:50AM
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terryincs(z5 IL)

I have about 20 'mater plants going right now and had really good luck germinating the seeds in the oven (gas) OFF, OF COURSE! Seems the pilot was enough to keep everything warm. Just make sure to get the seedlings out into the light when they pop up. Always use SEED MIX when possible-- much lighter and better for starting seeds. I will move them to larger pots (I use whatever I have on hand, paper cups, yogurt cups, old 4-packs, etc) when they get a few leaves and are strong. They are in 1x1 cells now. I also use cut in half milk cartons for starting seeds, staple the spout end. I put grow lights (got several adjustable light hoods at yard sales) or one cool and one warm flourecent light over them ASAP. I don't have a window sill big enough. I put them on timers to maximize light.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 12:26PM
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conace55(z5 CO)

Thanks so much for your responses. Got them started today. Doesn't seem too difficult, but we'll see how they progress.

Thanks for the experienced pointers. Connie

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 7:09PM
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