tomatoes from seeds for someone always on the go

coengMarch 22, 2013

I want to grow tomatoes from seeds this year but I don't know how to go about it even though I've read several guides. I only have room for about 8-10 plants in my garden so this will be a small scale project.

The problems I face are:

1) literally ZERO free time during the day Mon-Fri because of work and after school activities with kids

2) No sunny porch to bring the plants in during cold nights.

I need to be able to (while getting the kids in the car on the way to school) take the seedlings from my garage every morning and move them to my deck where they will get plenty of sun.

Can anyone recommend the simplest thing I could do that would take up the least amount of room in the garage and be easy to take outside every morning?

I might considering doing cukes and other veggies as well if I can keep this at small scale.

Are the kits I see that they sell at Home Depot worth it? Or are they considered junk?

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

JMO but your #1 point pretty much puts an end to the idea with any hopes for success. Seedlings are like babies and kids. They need regular attention, care, and monitoring. You'd just be adding to your busy schedule and stress level and have minimal results.

Per the majority of the discussions over on the Growing from Seed forum here most all the so-called "kits" are considered costly junk.

And this doesn't even begin to address the need for transplanting into larger containers, providing supplemental lights, etc.

I assume you have read through the FAQ here?


Here is a link that might be useful: Detailed FAQ on growing tomatoes from seed

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 10:25AM
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to clarify...I do have plenty of time in the evenings to do any prep work and I am typically in my garage doing small projects.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 10:34AM
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I read the FAQ...

I was thinking about setting up a table in my garage but don't have any inkling about setting up portable flourescent lights, not to mention cost involved.

Would my garage be too cold? Its attached to my home.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 10:39AM
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Found a kit that looks like something I could manage. Anyone have experience with something like this?

Here is a link that might be useful: grow light kit

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 10:52AM
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actually this looks like a better idea

Here is a link that might be useful: DIY growing light stand

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 10:59AM
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What is the next stage of care after the seedlings need to be transplanted from the seed tray? Do they still need to be kept under lights? Just trying to see how much room I will need.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 11:11AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Actually these questions are discussed in detail over on the Growing from Seed forum. That is the best forum for this discussion.

There is an extensive collection of FAQs there - just click on the FAQ button there - on how to get started, what is required, containers to use, light set-ups, transplanting, temps required, time involved, etc.


Here is a link that might be useful: Growing from Seed forum

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 12:26PM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

I'd suggest checking out the wintersowing forum. It's a no-fuss method -- plant the seeds, stick the containers outside and let mother nature take its course. You usually don't need to water till it gets pretty warm (after the initial watering when you plant, of course), no moving containers inside and out, no hardening off.

I've been doing my tomatoes this way for about five years and always get good germination. The FAQ will tell you how to do it, and forum posters will answer any questions you might still have.


    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 8:25AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

I'd just like to add, for anyone who doesn't go to the Growing From Seed forum or sow outdoors, that the linked "DIY growing light stand" has a serious drawback in that the light fixture is at a fixed height. With that much distance between the soil surface and the lights, the baby seedlings would stretch in search of light and end up seriously leggy (resulting in weaker plants).

Wire-type shelving is useful for seed-starting and seedling growing because you can hang lights under the shelves when you need to start seedlings, then remove the lights once it's warm outside and use the shelving for another purpose. The type of shelving that lets you change the height of the shelves is preferable.

This is the shelving I have; I've seen them in catalogs, at Lowe's, and years ago at Target (Target may still have them, but I haven't looked at their furniture lately); I think Walmart may have them as well:
Style Selections 74-in H x 48-in W x 18-in D 5-Tier Wire Freestanding Shelving Unit
These shelves come in different sizes; the individual shelves are adjustable (though you probably have to take the whole thing apart if you change your mind); it helps to have a second person to begin the set-up part, though I've done 7 of varying sizes over the years without any help.

4' wide shelving allows you to use 4' fluorescents and put two 20" seed-starting trays on a single shelf.

To avoid having to raise the lights as your seedlings grow, I place styrofoam blocks under the seedling trays, then remove layers of styrofoam as needed so that the tops of the seedlings are 1-2" below the light tubes (leaves won't burn if the plants come in contact with the cool tubes). If you don't have styrofoam you can use something else (wood; cardboard boxes; anything you have a lot of that will support seedling trays). If you like the idea of styrofoam but don't have any, you may be able to purchase it at a crafts store.

I'd also suggest more lights than are shown in that video: a minimum of 4 tubes in width if you're using 20" x 10" seed-starting trays.

There may be plants for which the high plastic dome would be good, but with tomatoes the lack of air circulation could result in disease. And ideally you'll run a fan on your seedlings, both to increase air circulation and to strengthen the stems.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 2:06PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

the linked "DIY growing light stand" has a serious drawback in that the light fixture is at a fixed height.

Excellent point. Plus it is only a 2 foot fixture which is normally not enough. Plus the 2' fixtures and the bulbs for them usually cost more than the 4' fixtures and bulbs do.

There are many pics of much better light set ups over on the Growing from Seed forum.


    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 3:01PM
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