I'm in STL MO and last frost dates in like two weeks. I started germinating my seeds about two-three days ago and they started sending roots yesterday.
What are my chances if I put them in the garden tonight?
Their chances? Slim to none.
But then I guess you can always start more.
Why would you want to do that ? Get a head start ? = No way, Jose !
Prolly(&&@#) you last frost date is LONGER than 2 weeks away (St Luis, MO ?). Even then you will need to harden them off for AT LEAST a week. SO, better baby those little things for 3 weeks if not longer. Prolly longer:)
Sounds to me as like you germinated them in paper towels or some other similar method? If that's the case and you have is the root (radicle) poking out of the seed coat then hardening off wouldn't be required.
That being said, with last frost still weeks away (just because the calendar says its in two weeks doesn't mean Ma Nature agrees) and with how shallow you plant tomato seeds, chances are they wont make it. You are much better off putting them in some seed starter in your house for a few weeks.
That's what I was thinking. The thing is, I have 12 different types of heirloom tomatoes and I started 5 seeds of each. The effort required to go to the next step (putting in starting mix under a very close fluorescent) then having to raise the light, water individually, harden off then plant seemed silly if I could just put them in the garden then thin out date I saw what sprouted/who the strongest plants were.
You could definitely try it. If you do, I would mulch over them with a hefty layer of straw or something and/or use some kind of cloche to keep them warm, but It is worth a shot. In the event they don't make it, as Dave said, you can always start another batch when the weather warms up.
Cold Frame maybe, but chances are pretty good you will lose them. Not far from you and our last frost date is May 10. You might be a little earlier but I'd say you are looking at least 4 weeks.
Sounds a bit like an April Fools day joke. LOL.
I don't think that your soil will be any where near warm enough yet for strong seedlings to survive never mind weak little seeds. IMO, you will just end up with rotted seeds if you plant them directly out way too early.
Good Gardening, Mary
I'm just going to have to put them in containers and rest a shop light over them then.
You see to me the small amount of effort I have put in being wasted on what sounds like a fruitless endeavor is much worse than bucking up and starting them indoors properly.
What temp would be good for the soil though and at what depth? I have a little therm I can get readings from just to see.
April Fools day, I like that.
It is not just the frost or air temperature. Tomato seeds require a certain min. soil temperature. Probably 65F is about minimum. for it to germinate. Even then it will take 15 days instead 5 days at 75F. I have direct sown and grown tomatoes but then it was in zone 7B, in GA, in late May. I have even done it with eggplants which are the most heat demanding when it comes to germinating.
So in short, given the time it can e done. No question about it.
My tomato seeds have been outside in milk jugs for a couple weeks now. It's called wintersowing and there's a forum that explains the concept. It was developed so you don't need the space and lights inside. Mine won't sprout till it warms up, and they'll be small when it's time to plant, but I get tomatoes almost to the day that my brother does and he starts under lights then moves them to a hot house.
I'll search winter sowing for next year. Thank you.
Why bother to sow when you know that it won't sprout until it warms up ?
Winter sowing is for things that need stratification. Or it is done with some cool crops. Tomatoes are tropical plants in origin and their seeds do not require stratification NOR benefit from it.
"Why bother to sow when you know that it won't sprout until it warms up ?"
Why bother? Because it's easy. Winter sowing means you won't have to deal with starting them inside, growing them under lights, nor having to harden them off. And they will start to sprout before you'd normally be able to plant them because the containers are little greenhouses. However, I haven't tried it with tomatoes.
You are correct that tomato seeds don't need to be stratified. Winter sowing them only really benefits the gardener.
Good suggestion Caryl. The Wintersown techniques having nothing to do with the need for stratification can be used for just about anything, including tomatoes and peppers. And as has been discussed here in the past by many who have actually tried it, works quite well with tomatoes.
I have not done any winter sowing but I have read some about it. If my understanding of the process is correct, I don't think that it would be a good idea to try it with pre-rooted or pre-soaked seeds. Can someone with more experience let me know what you think?
WINTER sowing and DIRECT sowing are different.
DIRECT sowing in spring is not WINTER sowing. I have done this with : CHIVES, PARSLEY, SCALIONS, CILANTRO, GARDEN CRESS, SNAP PEAS, RUNNER BEANS, ...already.
If you direct sow tomatoes and peppers early spring when the ground temperatures are under 50F, you are not getting a head start on that with tomatoes, peppers , eggplants.
Wintersowing is a distinct process, not just throwing seeds out in the winter and hoping for the best. It is not direct sowing, which I do with beans. The seeds are in containers so they're not going to get eaten by birds, squirrels, etc. And no, you're not getting a head start, but you're not really behind either because even when you start your tomatoes inside you can't plant them out until you're past the LFD (unless you use hoop houses or walls o' water or some such). It's great for things that need cold stratification, but also fine for all but the fussiest of plants. Anything you sometimes get volunteers from can be wintersowed
It saves space and time, because you don't need a light setup, or windowsills. And you don't have to harden off, carrying plants inside and out, because they're already adapted to the elements. Their roots also tend to be quite healthy.
As I said above, my tomato seedlings are usually only a few inches tall when I plant out compared to the foot-high you'll have from a nursery or starting inside. They quickly catch up, and I usually have tomatoes by early July, at least from the ones with shorter DTMs.
To Mary, I don't think it would be a good idea with pre-rooted seeds. Not sure about the soaking. Usually a seed that needs soaking if started inside doesn't need it if it's going to be semi-exposed to winter conditions for a couple of months.
seysonn - go to the Winter Sowing forum here and read the FAQs so you will have some idea about what is being discussed.
It has nothing to do with direct seeding. It is a well recognized and totally different method for growing transplants from seed and then transplanting them to the garden at the proper time.
Here is a link that might be useful: Winter Sowing forum
seysonn - go to the Winter Sowing forum here and read the FAQs so you will have some idea about what is being discussed. (Dave)
When it come to our discussions, here about trying to germinate and grow TOMATO outside in spring I know what its and what principles are involved. What are you doing in this case is planting the seed and letting the seeds and the mother nature do whatever whenever will be, will be...
I am not saying that it CANNOT be done. All I am saying is that there is no advantageous point in doing that, WHEN IT COMES TO PEPPERS and TOMATOES. As I said previously I have done it with PARSLEY, CILANTRO, CHIVES, SAVORY (my parsley has not germinated after 6 weeks..)...but I wont do that, eg, with BASIL, b/s I know it for a fact that it is not going to do any good. I rather do it either inside or wait until the soil and air temperature reach a certain treshhold.
To me because "They Do It" does not make it a valid ADVANTAGEOUS planting method. THAT IS WHY i have spent hundreds of Dollars in equipments and running costs and HOURS and HOURS of my time trying to grow under lights. I am trying to BEAT the nature not yield to it.
Let me clarify that what we do here is expressing our views. In the end of the day one does what wants and chooses to do. No body is imposing anything on anybody.
Happy Germinating !
On the contrary many report there are many advantages to Wintersown tomatoes - minimal care needed, like growing in a cold frame or mini-greenhouse but without the concerns of maintaining the temps like with a cold frame, no interim transplanting, no lights,no fans or no heat mats required (all the things the OP wanted to avoid), minimal potting mix used, quick and easy transplanting with no transplant shock, and no hardening off required either.
Works great and gains you lots of healthy transplants ready to go as the weather permits.
I used to scoff at it too until I tried it for myself.
I have done it, believe or not.
Minimal care, minimal outcome, too little too late. (my experience)
My question to you (Dave) is : ARE YOU PRACTICING WHAT YOU ARE PREACHING ?
Dave, Seysonn is from WA, and according to some other posters the season is too short to do tomatoes and peppers and maybe a few other things by wintersowing because it doesn't get consistently warm until June.
I only threw out the idea because it works great in my area and, as you pointed out, saves a lot of time, space and expense. The first time I used it with tomatoes I was terrified that I'd wind up buying my plants from the nursery. Instead, I wound up with more seedlings than I could use or give away -- the germination rate was so high I couldn't believe it.
And despite my testimony, my brother is still sprouting his under lights, transplanting to bigger pots and moving them to a hothouse a friend of his has. He spent last weekend transplanting about 600 seedlings (he grows for a few friends as well). I don't have the patience or time for that. Mine are outside in their milk jugs. They'll come up in a couple of weeks and go in the ground in mid- to late May. To each his/her own.
If it works for you, that is all it counts.
I can guesstimate that your brother will harvest ripe tomatoes way before you can. I can share his sentiment. But that ok if you are not in hurry for that first bite at that juicy tomato. I want to celebrate the Fourth with ripe tomatoes in this COOL PNW. My seedlings are out in the garden, in my small hoops, toughening up. I will plant them in a few days.
I have done what you call "Winter Sowing" in the past ; directly in the bed and in cold frame. Then I was in GA and already had few grown indoor under light as early treat.
Good Luck with your Winter Sowing.
Yep, even though I don't have to because we are in the greenhouse business and have all the equipment. So we do most all the plants for our personal gardens right along with all the plants we grow for sale.
But since Trudi challenged me and several others here into trying it several years ago I always set up 12-15 gallon milk jugs of various tomato and pepper seeds (20-25 in each jug) varieties to use as backups and replacements. They also come in handy for taking cuttings from for mid-season planting and even though we plant 150-200 tomato plants anyway you can always find a nook or cranny for extra plants..
What you are describing having done is not winter sowing. Wintersowing is not putting the seeds directly into the garden or cold frame, but rather using a prepared container like a milk jug filled with potting soil or seed starting medium then closed up and set outside. It creates an environment a little like a mini-hothouse. In fact, if you stick your finger in the opening at the top you can actually feel that the temp is a bit higher than the air temp.
And please stop telling me when I'll get tomatoes. I've done this for a half-dozen years at least and I always have tomatoes by mid-July, right around when my brother gets his first. It often gets hot here fast -- we can go from cool and dreary to a heat wave in a snap, and our first heat wave usually comes sometime in June. Believe me, I love tomatoes and wouldn't do this if I had to wait until August for home-grown, ripe tomatoes.
Just because you put some chives, etc. out in winter does not mean you wintersowed, which is a distinct method. Go to the forum and read the FAQ. Once I plant I know I won't have to check for water or light or anything unless it gets unseasonably warm for a stretch of time.
Dave, if I had a hot house I'd use it too. But I don't so I make do with what I've got which is lots of outdoor space to plant as much or as little as I germinate with as little effort as possible. :)
This has gotten OT - I wonder how OP's tomatoes are doing?
I looked at Wintersowing forum, have to dig deeper for actual procedure but sounds promising, may try that next year. We go through a couple of gallons of milk a week - I just have to convince DH to save a couple of months' worth of jugs instead of recycling them!
That is intriguing. I might try this winter sowing next year. What I am doing now is kind of in between I guess. I start them indoors but move them out as soon as they sprout into a small pop-up greenhouse. So far I can start them later and end up with the same size plant and better looking as well.
I don't have the patience or time for that. Mine are outside in their milk jugs.
We go through a couple of gallons of milk a week
I find this very interesting:
ONE OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR winter sowing IS TO SOW IN milk jugs. This meant if you sow them in the garden bed it is not qualified. Hmmmm !!
And please stop telling me when I'll get tomatoes. ..
It does not happening by telling or NOT telling. You get ripe tomatoes this way by MID JULY ? Good for you.
Let us consider 2 types of winter-sowing:
2. "Human" winter-sowing where seeds are placed in a semi-closed environment (milk jug, soda bottle, salad container, etc) offering protection from critters and something of a green house effect.
This is my first year winter sowing, and although I don't have tomatoes and peppers sprouted yet, I do have cold crops and flowers sprouting. I expect to see tomatoes and peppers soon.
As I understand, Seysonn's "winter-sowing" is a hybrid of Nature's and Human's. It is direct sowing in the ground under the a cold frame. (Seysonn, please correct me if my understanding is not right.)
Doing a little Q&A tonight and came across this thread ;-)
Seysonn, WS is a genuine distinct germination method and has its own description in the USDA Thesaurus. (Disclaimer: I was asked and did help write that.)
When I first started talking about WS I had the impression that the Norman Deno crowd wanted to drag me off to the boundaries of the internet and leave me there, lol. Honestly, a kindergartner with a milkjug can have better germination than a lifelong master gardener growing under lights. I am so sincere about the method that I will give you the seeds to try it--you have to provide your own postage but I will give you the seeds for free.
BTW, tomatoes are perennial in a tropical climate, elsewhere they behave as annuals. They are from Peru, a temperate climate--the plants are not frost hardy but they are not tropical. The seeds, which are not the plants, can tolerate a broad range of winter temps and germinate the following spring when the weather has warmed sufficiently. WS is based on any plant's ability to reseed in a temperate climate. People in short or cool seasons should select appropriate varieties to WS.
The seedlings are small above the soil line, but the roots will blow you away. I transplant at about an inch into the garden.
Give it a try, it's fun.
Here is a link that might be useful: Free Seeds from WinterSown (You'll prolly want the tomato offer.)
This post was edited by trudi_d on Mon, Apr 7, 14 at 8:42