Winter Sowing Tomatoes

deanriowa(4b)July 18, 2007

Does anyone here winter sow their tomatoes?

How are they doing compared to store/nursery bought transplants?

What soil do you use for winter sowing your tomatoes?

Any additional comments would be great.



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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Dean, did you know that there's a separate Forum here at GW just for Winter sowing, including tomatoes?

I think that's the place you'll find the best answers, perhaps.


    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 3:10PM
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I guess I am looking for opinions maybe different then I might find on that forum.

The question still stands.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 5:12PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I'd agree with Carolyn that the Wintersowing Forum is your best bet as that is the focus of your question but below is a link to a recent discussion of your question you'll find helpful.

While I'm not familiar with all the reasoning behind winter sowing of things, I can see its advantages when it comes to spring flowers. But I can't see any advantages to using it on tomatoes or other hot-season, sun-loving crops. As many posts here reflect, they can be difficult enough to transplant successfully when started much more than 8 weeks before transplanting time. ;)


Here is a link that might be useful: Winter Sowing Tomatoes and Peppers

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 5:37PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Here are 3 more discussions on your question that a search pulled up for me.

Winter Sowing Tomatoes

Tomatoes: Winter Sowing

You Can't Winter Sow Tomatoes

Hope they help answer your questions.


    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 5:42PM
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I'm interested in winter sowing and discussing the winter sowing of tomatoes specifically.

I've never done it, so have nothing to tell you about it at this time. But I think the practice has a great deal of merit for many of the reasons Trudi has expressed here and at other forums.

I remember when you never ever saw squash, cucumber, watermelon, cantaloupe, or herb seedlings sold at hardware stores and farm supply stores ... just cabbage, onions, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants ... that kind of stuff. Everyone stuck their other seeds right into the dirt whenever the soil temps were appropriate. Now you see all kinds of stuff sold as seedlings ... even CORN for cryin' out loud. It's really dumbing down gardening with regard to keeping hands-on knowledge of the relaitonship of soil temp/moisture conditions with successfully germinating certain seeds, etc

So, this winter sowing deal has me intrigued with regard to how tomato seeds react to sub-prime soil and air temperatures and how those that survive the elements thrive on into possibly superior plants. Like I said, I haven't taken the leap yet ... except for accidental volunteer tomatoes ... but I've been really wanting to give it a go.

Since I don't frequent other GW forums, a discussion of winter sowing tomatoes would be interesting here in the tomato forum, and I see nothing whatever inappropriate about having the discussion right here.


    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 6:34PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Bill - I don't think anyone suggested the OP was "inappropriate" for this forum. I surely didn't intend that.

The suggestion and subsequent links were offered because, as you know, many who post access GW as a result of a search and aren't aware that all the other forums even exist. Pointing the poster to a topic-specific forum for info on what is a topic-specific question is meant to be helpful. That IS why all the topic-specific forums do exist after all and why they should be explored. ;)


    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 8:16PM
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I am not trying to get everyone frustrated.

I am just looking to get as many opinions as possible and I figured that maybe tomato enthusiasts would have different or a more in depth opinions on winter sowing tomatoes(specifically).

I am just wondering, what kind of luck everyone has had winter sowing compared to other methods. Also if anyone has had any recommendations or first hand experience.



    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 11:03PM
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Jest my 2 cents.

I wasn't thinking it possible either, but this was my first year wintersowing tomatoes (rather spring sowing) and they are doing GREAT!
Have Oregon Spring, Tumbling Tom and Sweetie all doing perfectly fine. The only thing that has slowed them down is the excess high heat, but the cool down has brought me nice fruits. My neighbors nursery bought ones are no better (farther along) than these and gotta say mine look lots better :D


    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 11:11PM
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I go to a lot of effort for everthing and I succeed because I rarely make mistakes. I make hard calls and I make them well.

It's up to people to decide what works for them or not, and by presenting a larger venue for reading then they have more information to survey and assess for themselves. More links means more points of view.

After that they can Learn By Doing! Why don't you try it, you may like it...or you might not.

And if you don't want to try it with your own seeds, I'll give them to you. But what I share isn't only my own seeds...many of the posters here and on other forums and elsewhere have donated seeds to me to share through WinterSown. I'll even treat you the postage along with the seeds, email me a mailing address and the seeds are on their way. You'll be geting the same seeds that everyone is currently getting; right now that's Golden Jubilee. Ponderosa Pink, Giant Oxheart, Bonny Best, Stupice and Tibetan Apple. Of course this list changes as I go through a run of stock. And you get a brochure on how to grow tomatoes in containers. But wait--there's more! You also get a mixed pack of tomato seeds for growing yourself or sharing with friends, AND you get three bonus packs of seeds! Of course, if you'd rather remain anonymous and send me a two-stamp SASE then google "Tomato SASE" or "Free Seeds" for the addy and info, I'll be on the first page of google and way, way above the fold. You'll find it. You'll have the opportunity to WS your tomatoes with genuine seeds from WinterSown. How delightful is that!

'til then....

Here is a link that might be useful: Do you like to eat healthy food that tastes good?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 11:26PM
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I am tickled pink! I did not see any one pointing fingers at anyone just suggestions well any who......I was the biggest skeptic on winter sowing tomatoes because I thought that they were warm weather veggies/fruit (I don't know which) all I know is that they are GOOD! Four years ago I I received a lot of seeds from Trudi, black Krim and others and winter sowed them. They came up like gang busters and I had to pull them up to get them to stop and that was in mid November! They would not stop! They were the biggest,hardiest tomatoes that I have ever grown and trust me you I have been growing them for over 20 years starting in Hatchachubee Alabama all the way to the middle of Detroit Mi and if we did not grow them we did not eat them! Well anyway thats my tap on wintersowing tomatoes!

Try it you will become an addict! (Oh yeah and your neighbors will run from you when they see you coming with your basket of extras oh and your pockets will thank you too!!)

The Garden Pooter!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 11:45PM
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Note: The great passion everyone shows for gardening is why I love this forum.

I will be trying to winter sowing next year. I will report back.



    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 11:45PM
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Thank you Vera and Pooter, et al, you know I love you!

Dean, as I've said so often before, you will learn more with your own eyes from your own experiences than you will learn from all the experts in the world telling you what to do or what to think. Your self-guided learning experience will provide you with profound understanding of what you can or can't do, and what you can achieve by your own means.

Learn by Doing!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 1:23AM
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I'd like to see if anyone can answer one of Dean's questions?

"How are they doing compared to store/nursery bought transplants?"

I'd like to know if anyone has ever done a comparison between maturity dates also. I plan on doing it next year. I will take a couple varieties and WS them and compare to the same varieties germinated and raised indoors for 7/8 weeks. Watch each group perform. Logic tells me the WS group will ripen at a later date. I'd like to know HOW much later?! I'd also like to see production levels of both groups and see if the WS indeed are hardier. In other words a careful evaluation regarding both methods with accurate findings versus ancedotal evidence.

Like Carolyn I have scattered poppy and larkspur seed into the late snows of winter with fine results. That is what I consider Winter Sowing. I have never tried the little slits in the plastic wrap flat method. But I am open to try it and again, if anyone has ever done accurate comparisons regarding tomatoes I'd like to see the numbers...

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 6:35AM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

(I'd like to know if anyone has ever done a comparison between maturity dates also. I plan on doing it next year. I will take a couple varieties and WS them and compare to the same varieties germinated and raised indoors for 7/8 weeks. Watch each group perform. Logic tells me the WS group will ripen at a later date. I'd like to know HOW much later?! I'd also like to see production levels of both groups and see if the WS indeed are hardier. In other words a careful evaluation regarding both methods with accurate findings versus ancedotal evidence.


I'd like to see this done as well. But be sure to sow the same number of seeds outside as inside so there's also a direct germination comparison.

And as I was abed last night I realized I had forgoetten another reason why WS would not work out for me and for others in the same boat.

Sometimes I'm sent 2-3 seeds of a rare tomato variety. I cannot take the risk of not getting good germination or lose that variety. Even if I had 10 seeds I wouldn't take the risk.

And while this doesn't pertain to me, I can't see those who spend time making deliberate crosses and getting limited amounts of F1 hybrid seed to work with also WS them.

And here I'm thinking of those who have posted here at GW about their crosses such as Bill ( hoosier) and Keith ( Hortist) and Jay/S ( brazos valley), for example.

Again, if seed rarity, either in terms of a specific variety re few seeds or from directed crosses is not a concern to someone, then again, WS may be an option for those whose needs it meets.

And the only reason that I'm using myself as an example re not using WS methods is b'c I know from posting here for many years that there are those reading here who never do read links, such as those posted above, that anyone posts.

And I felt that at least one person, myself, sharing my concerns directly in this thread, might be useful to others.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 7:14AM
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You're absolutely right. When I crossed Indian Stripe with Sungold, I only got one take and it produced about 100 seeds for me. So, I surely wasn't going to chance winter sowing those first F1 seeds. Instead, I planted about 16 of them in starter cells and lovingly nurtured the sprouts under lights, etc. into healthy seedlings and distributed many of them to friends to help me take that first year look.

But now that I have a monster large cherry producing beast in the garden, I'm saving hundreds and hundreds of F2 seeds as we speak, and if Trudi and her wintersowing legionaires want to work their magic with them, I'll look forward to hearing their results. In fact, I hope they are able to produce some superior grow-out results down the road if that's what happpens. But if indeed wintersowing causes hardier plants, I'm warning everyone now ... this particular hybrid cherry might become one of those hungry monsters from the Little Shop of Horrors!

BTW, I think it's wonderful and inspiring that Trudi has the same passion as an avocate for her methods as Carolyn's passion as an avocate for hers. Life is good.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 8:06AM
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Hi all :)
If you can believe it, I actually wrote out my SASE's for free seeds from just last night!! I also had the same question as the OP and, lo and behold, I wake up this morning and someone beat me to it! I am so excited to try out winter sowing. After 9 years of tomato gardening using nursery plants I plan on winter sowing tomato seeds AND sowing them indoors for next season. I figure if I fail at either method...or both...then I can just go get my little ol' transplants from the nursery. I'm just too exctied to try out the experiment on my own though! Can't wait to post my results next season!!! Carolyn, good idea on sowing the same # of seeds indoors and out...I may have forgotten to do that :)

I only discovered garden web this spring and I have to thank ALL of you for your opinions, experience and insight. How boring gardening would be if we all drove to the big box stores, purchased basic red tomato plants and stuck them in the ground.

Have a great day :)

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 8:26AM
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Bill, you posted while I was typing.

I will be more than happy to distribute your seeds and I will pack and label them following your suggestions.

If anyone would like me to share their seeds with wide distribution, I will be delighted to do that. I love growing tomatoes from seed and I like sharing seeds so others can also feel the joy and taste the flavors too. This is something we all have in common regardless of germination methods, we all love to grow and eat different types of tomatoes. I have been fortunate to be able develop a distribtuion venue which provides organizations and individuals with a variety of seeds. If you look way up above at the seeds I am currently distributing, you see they are mostly different from one another is size, shape and color. It's an eye opener for anyone who is new to growing and is used to round and red tomatoes. I am hoping that the experience will stimulate curiosity about heirlooms and hybrids and they'll want to grow more of them in the future.

Once upon a time, I had posted that I had grown tomatoes from seed for the first time and really enjoyed the experience. Someone here said to try their seeds of BoxCar Willie, and she sent me the seeds. I grew them the next year and I was curious for more. The year after that I grew different colors and shapes of tomatoes and I was really hooked. I share tomato seeds because I love growing them and eating them, I'm not alone in this. Many people here share because they love to grow and eat tomatoes, and each year new people get hooked on it, just like we all did.

Hugs, as always, you are a dear man Bill!


    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 9:10AM
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My SASE is on the way as well. I will track a few different types of vegetables next year for a side to side comparison. Earliness, heartiness, production, ....

Thanks again.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 9:31AM
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I've wintersown tomatoes. I've bought plants. I've sown seeds directly in the garden. I've put seeds in pots and flats in my kitchen window. And I've done all of that the same year!

My main reasons for wintersowing are because I don't have much window space that gets enough sun to make stocky, healthy plants, they are so much cheaper, and the variety available is waaaay greater.

Anyway, back to the OP's question about how they do compared to bought plants... My wintersown plants have been just as prolific and just as early as the bought plants when I planted the exact same varieties. That's compared to small plants in 6 or 9 packs from the store. I'm sure you could get earlier fruit from those expensive 2' tall monsters you sometimes find.

The potting soil I usually use is my homemade compost mixed with a very little amount of good garden soil. I don't fertilize until I plant in the garden and then use a dilute starter solution. I have also used seed starter mix from the store but don't see any real advantage over the homemade stuff. Wintersown plants are not prone to damping off like hot house or indoor plants.

There are drawbacks. Wintersowing is more work than plopping down hard earned dollars for greenhouse plants. My deck is a mess till I get them all planted but we don't use it much that time of year anyway. And as somebody said earlier, your friends and neighbors and relatives will run when they see you coming with all your extras. Some of them I'm glad to see running the other way!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 9:38AM
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My experience with WS toms is they start later and I get toms later by about 1 month. They do go strong all they way into fall and because those fall months can be more cold they toms like I end up with more green toms than ripe ones as fall progresses. I grow toms indoor for early start and I ws them for late pick up. It is nice to have steady supply over long time then to end up with huge pile in one week so I am trying to balance my act.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 10:13AM
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How are they doing compared to store/nursery bought transplants?"

My wsn tomatoes are finally catching up to the store boughts. I had wsn some "Abe Lincoln", which I really really really wanted, and got ZERO germination.
I had wsn 7 "Jersey" from a tomato I collected from Jersey tomatoes purchased at a stand on Rt 23. All 7 germinated!
I had wsn 7 "Koroleva" that Trudi had sent me. All 7 germinated! Needless to say, in addition to the store boughts, I had too many tomatoes. I have 5 in the garden along with 7 in spackle buckets on my deck. I gave LOTS away. Each and every plants has tomatoes; only the store bought grape tomatoes have ripened. I know each has different harvest days, but the larger tomatoes, both store bought and wintersown, haven't ripened yet. Wintersowing is better because you can try more varieties than you can find locally. It's just about the same tomatoes in every nursery, boring, boring, boring! Plus, the satisfaction of eating your own tomato that you started from seed is a major pick me up ;)

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 10:52AM
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littleonefb(zone 5, MA)

The answers to comparisons on maturity dates have been done by 2 neighbors and myself, both this year and last year.

One neighbor has been starting seeds indoors under lights for 20 years and has a huge vegetable garden, the other neighbor buys her tomato plants at a very fancy place several towns away from here and has a wonderful variety.

All 3 of us where able to get the same varieties of tomatoe in either plants and seeds. So results for

2006 garden year where this.

Seeds sown indoors under lights, sown on March 1st where

rutgers select
white wonder
purple cherokee
large cherry red
sweet 100
warren's yellow cherry
black cherry
yellow jubilee

I WS the same seeds, put them out on April 1st.

We sowed exactly 16 seeds of each variety and shared either commercial packets of seeds or seeds that I received in trades from the seed exchange forum

Indoor plants germinated within 10 days, mine all germinated on May 5th-May 10th.

Indoor under lights germination numbers

rutgers select 11 out of 16
large cherry red 9 out of 16
warren's yellow cherry 10 out of 16
sweet 100 10 out of 16
purple cherokee 8 out of 16
yellow jubilee 14 out of 16
black cherry 12 out of 16
white wonder 12 out of 16

My WS germination results where a perfect 16 out of 16 with each variety.
Home sown seeds where planted outside on June 3rd. Nursery bought plants where bought on May 31st and planted out on June 3rd.

Height of plants on June 3rd.

under lights 12 inches
WS 6 inches
nursery bought 24 inches

2 weeks later,
under lights plants 18 inches
WS 14 inches
nursery bought still 24 inches

3 weeks later
under lights 20 inches
WS 30 inches
nursery bought 27 inches

4 weeks after planting out
under lights 24 inches
WS 40 inches
nursery bought 32 inches

4 weeks after planting
under lights a few blossoms on all plants
WS full of blossoms on all plants
nursery bought full of blossoms on most plants

Maturity/ripe tomatoes
WS plants where about 2 weeks later than either nursery bought or grown under lights.

My WS tomato plants produced more tomatoes of each variety than either the seedlings started under lights and the nursery grown ones and mine where all grown in very large pots.

When Sept. rolled around and both neighbors where pulling out their dying and dead plants, I was still picking beautiful ripe tomatoes off of all my WS plants and continued to do so until Nov. 1st and that's in New England, when I decided to pick all the remaining green tomatoes and bring them in to ripen because a frost was predicted for that evening.

This year both neighbors joined me in WS the following seeds that we saved from last years tomatoes and all of our plants are at least 40 inches tall, all bearing fruit now and looking wonderful. Germination rate was perfect for all 3 of us, 16 seeds out of each variety and 16 seeds germinated

yellow jubilee
warren's yellow cherry
rutger's select
sweet 100
large cherry red
black cherry
purple cherokee
white wonder
and a new one this year Xmas grape

None of us will ever worry about seed germination numbers as we have a perfect score, second time around for me on those numbers.

My neighbor posted on freecycle and gave away all his seed starting stuff for indoors, he's a WS convert now on all seeds, both flowers and veggies, and my other neighbor didn't buy anything at a nursery this year for the first time in her life. she just WS everything.

Thanks Trudi, for all the info on WS. Don't fear the idea, even in starting tomatoes.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 11:03AM
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I started winter sowing last year so being my first attempt and skeptical I only ws a few plants, maybe 5 of 40ish. This year I ws about 25 out of 40 something. I dont keep comparison records but IÂll provide last years results and this years update.

My winter sown plants did start slower but caught up the weather heated up. Fruit was somewhat later but not by much. This year my store purchased seedlings better boy and super sonics are larger and fuller than all others so far, but NOT by a lot. My ws goliath, brandy wine, brandy wine bush, big beef porterhouse, cherry, and kellog breakfast (thanks again gardenscout) are all doing great, and all have plenty of green fruit. The slowest of all for whatever reason are my early girls purchased from the garden store. I canÂt yet tell when anything will ripen but none are really that close yet.

My very best is a store purchased super sonic that is growing in an earthbox, first year experiment using one, this guy is out of control with growth.

IÂve always started tomatoes indoors but could never resolve the stretching problem, even when using grow lights. Winter sowing eliminates this as all plants are provided even light, ws seedlings are bushy and healthy looking.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 11:26AM
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I think I kinda answered the comparison question in my post....
My neighbors (two neighbors btw) nursery bought ones were bigger at first, but my ws'n ones caught up in no time and look a ton healthier and have. Both have even made comments to that effect. I didn't do any this year indoors, but here is my sowing and germination dates:

Tumbling Tom (red and yellow)......sown 3/25...germ 4/8
Oregon Spring....sown 3/30....germ 4/16
Sweetie....sown 4/7....germ 4/20

All seed sown did germinate and I used two seed per pony pack cell (I used two 4 and one 6 celled pack).......I gave lots away:D
All have fruits...Oregon Spring started fruiting a month ago; stalled during the excess heat 90+ degrees. Sweetie and Tumbling tom started fruiting this week with the arrival of cooler temps.
Last year I was still a greenhouse student (I graduated in June 2006) and my final crops were tomatoes and peppers (bedding plants too), but anyhoo I started sowing these on March 16th and finished March 22nd:
Summer Sweet
Supersweet 100
Pink Cherry
Ultra Sweet
Ultra Girl

Out of those I brought home some Pink Cherry and an Ultra Sweet and planted May 12th and I honestly can't see much difference in onset of fruiting....maybe a few weeks earlier.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 11:42AM
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I'll just add my 2 cents about ws toms. I tried it for the first time this year, also my first time growing toms. I have 8 ws tom plants and 2 store bought ones (had 4 store bought, but 2 died when temps went a little wacky) When planted, the ws toms were only in 1st leaf stage, store boughts were at least 12in high, yes I burried most of the plant. The ws toms quickly out grew the store bought. Currently they are all now roughly the same size (with the exception of my mosterous yellow pear that everyone warned me about) The ws ones have thicker, stronger stems, overall apear fuller. All are producing fruit, fairly equally.

The one big downfall on my comparison, is that I ws'd 4 varieties of toms, and the store bought varieties are different from those. So, w/o buying and wsing the same variety, I can't truely compare.

On another note, germinatioin rates, lets just say I gave away over 100 tom plants, due to my skeptism. And I only need no more than a dozen!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 1:06PM
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I did warn you about that yellow pear. Remember to keep the electric hedge clippers or a machete ready when it starts to take over your garden, lol!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 1:17PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Trudi - I'm gonna take you up on your offer. Thanks! Emailed you my address a bit ago. Please let me know if you get it (my email address was included) as there apparently is a sometime problem with the emails from GW.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 1:26PM
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Thank you all who have provided your actual results regarding DTM, germination results and overall observations. Unless I read wrong it seems like WS tomatoes ripen about a week to a month later than indoor started seed. Now if it is easier to WS that is a plus for me. I am a lazy gardener. If the plants eventually produce more tomatoes and are healthier through the end of the growing season that is also a plus for me. Those plusses would outweigh the later ripe fruit situation for me next year because I plan on doing a controlled experiment using 3 of my favorite varieties both WSing versus indoor starting. So I may get some ripe fruit at my normal time AND ripe fruit a week to month later with the WS so I'm really not sacrificing time to enjoin my tomatoes! And yes I will compare results all the way through the end of the season Trudi and yes I will compare germination rates Carolyn. It will be a fair test.

If there is anyone else that wants to test along with me we can share results. I think it fine we talk about this on this board because we are talking of different ways to grow TOMATOES and not WSing per se. That's my 2 pennies anyway...:)

Trudi, since I think there is a good chance you will be following this thread, what day next year should I set out my WS flats? I'm barely zone 7. I can spit into zone 6. I usually plant my tomatoes outside around May 1 as it very seldom frosts after that date here. Can you give me a date? I promise I will write it down in my garden journal...:)

Also, how do you italicize anyway? LOL

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 1:30PM
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If the plants eventually produce more tomatoes and are healthier through the end of the growing season that is also a plus for me

I can't say they are or are not my bet would be that they are, BUT if you believe a better root system would help with those results then winter sowing would be your answer. WS produces an enourmous root system in it's little greenhouses, why iduno but someone may, it just does.

The provided link will teach you the basics for html code

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 3:39PM
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I appreciate every method to growing tomatoes,what works for one may not work for the other. Ask opinions,try it,and see what happens. As for the bickering, it is a shame that happens,after all we all share one common interest.(and I am eating one as I type)No need for mudslinging here :) HAVE FUN!!!!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 4:24PM
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Dean, thanks for starting this thread on this forum. I am not a winter sower and rarely look in at that forum, but do occasionally check this one. This spring I thought it would be my last year starting tomatoes indoors because of lack of good space. After reading the comments about experiences winter sowing tomatoes, this seems like an excellent alternative.

A question to those who have winter sown tomatoes - do you find the tomatoes are more resistant to pests and disease pressures than those from the nursery or indoor sown? It seems like they would be if they are stronger from the beginning.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 4:38PM
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what's wrong with giving new things a try? nobody's saying anyone should switch to winter sowing exclusively. if i could, i'd try it along with next season's other plantings. why the hell not?

hell, all you guys bickering over whether or not its a good use for your gardens just makes guys like me (without even a backyard, stuck growing tomatoes in buckets on a tar roof) laugh. 'i'm locked out of my solid gold house and my diamond car won't start'.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 4:51PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

I grow tomatoes both by "Spring Sowing" and conventional greenhouse growing (without lights however).

The greenhouse tomatoes, because they are sown earlier are just able of plantable size when I even bother to plant my spring sown tomatoes from seed.

Aside from two frosts which killed the tomatoes of people who started them too early, the greenhouse tomatoes were planted first. They are HUGE. Now fruiting and ripening.

I planted a few "spring sown" tomatoes too. They are much smaller, have not fruited, but are very strong and healthy.

The think I like about planting both is that my season is extended. ANY tomatoes that fruit here early are weekend I find, maybe due to putting all that energy into fruiting and then having to battle heat, humidity, drought, now bugs -- however, my late planted (which so happen to be spring sown) tomatoes are completely healthy and green. But they don't fruit yet...they WILL fruit when it is time to take the other tomatoes out. This is one of the great advantages of spring (or winter, for you Northerners) sowing for me in a long growing season. A huge extension. I can get tomatoes into November!


    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 6:12PM
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Just posting cause I wanted to see if I could do italics....
I love tomatoes

YEAH I did it!! Thanks for the link :D

Carry on,


    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 7:08PM
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Can you summarize that?

it's too long winded to read.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 7:13PM
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Vera, you are fabulous!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 7:46PM
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lblack61(z5 NY)

I'm in Zone 5, and I WS my tomatoes.

This year, I happen to have a plant that was sown indoors because my FIL surprised me by bringing over seeds he wanted me to start for some special tom that he ordered that was supposed to grow up to 8 feet. Because he wanted to come over and look at them as they grew, I couldn't WS them (much to my dismay...I didn't have room to grow them indoors really, because I was concentrating on starting other things inside).

Anyway, out of two little peat pellets of seeds, he (I) wound up with 16 seedlings. He gave them away to his friends, kept a couple, and gave one to me.
The benefit of this is I can compare the WS with the indoor-started. Although they are different varieties from what I sowed inside for him, it's still a nice comparison for me.

Most of the Tom plants I have (the one from my FIL and the ones I WSed) have blooms now, most are about the same height. The indoor sown Tom has green fruit on them. --Last year this time, I had fruit on most of my WSed toms, particularly "Cherokee", but the weather hasn't been as consistently warm as it was the previous two years.

But it seems to me it is true, what other WSers have said...that for a bit, the WSed plants are 2 weeks or so behind the indoor sown, and then, it gets warm, there is no telling the difference.

MY SIL always buys her seedlings, and she usually is picking about a week before me. When she's done picking, I usually still am...for quite a while after (more than a week longer).

Here's a picture of them from early last week (the indoor sown plant is on the left, in the front):

I also have two Sungold cherry tom plants in containers-- they are not as tall as the others. They sprouted later than the other WSed toms, but once now that they are in bigger containers, they are taking off. This is one of them last's about three inches or more taller today:

As far as soil, The ones in the container are just in some Schultz potting mix that is similar to Miracle Grow (it has time-release, three month duration fertilizer). The plants in the raised bed have a layer of cardboard, leaves, manure, then a Pro-Mix type grow mix ("soiless mix") that I can get in bales locally. They all seem happy.

I apologize for the lengthy reply, but I hope this helps you :-).

And one soft "rule" I use for WSing is that if I get volunteer plants of a particular thing, it should WS with no problem. But then, some things that don't reseed for me WS very well too. Like Calendula. Doesn't reseed for me, but it Winter Sows like gangbusters.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 8:54PM
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digdirt wrote:
I remember well back when we only had 8-10 very general forums and didn't even have a Tomato Forum and had to argue with Spike for its need because the Vegetable Gardening Forum was inundated with tomato questions. ...
As many posts here reflect, they [tomatoes] can be difficult enough to transplant successfully when started much more than 8 weeks before transplanting time.

Wow, digdirt, you've been here a long time. What name did you used to post under?
Why are tomatoes hard "to transplant successfully when started much more than 8 weeks before transplanting time?"


    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 9:20PM
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Hello? Hello? Is this thing on? Dean, can you hear me over here?

Hey, Dean- I'm a winter-sower, and won't start seeds any other way. If they don't germinate, I find something that will.
That having been said, I buy my tomato starts. I've tried to WS them with many containers of them, and I simply get lousy results. So I buy my starts (where ever. No specific place).
I use Pro-Mix for everything now, and it works well...when it works. For tomatoes, sadly, I get lousy results. They don't seem to want to do well for me. Other things are great. There are plants that do well, and plants that do horribly. Tomatoes (for me) fall into the latter category.
I won't give up WSing...for the most part it works for me. I just don't count on tomatoes because I get lousy results.
I'll likely still try WSing them...maybe it'll work one season.

Was that the original question? This was about Dean, and Dean's question, right? This IS a tomato forum, and the question was about tomatoes, right?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 9:25PM
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I am definitely going to try to wintersow, but from the post here it seems that wintersowing may come with it trails.

Any zone 4 people try wintersowing tomatoes?



    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 10:34PM
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Thanks gain, to everyone with their comments.

I and the others that try out wintersowing will need to report back next year on how it went.

Note: This message cleaned up nicely, thanks moderator.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 12:39PM
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mnwsgal 4 MN(4)

I ws my tomatoes this year. 'Whippersnapper' is a trailing container cherry tomato and has just started ripening. All the others are planted in the garden and are growing well. Some have blossoms only while others have green tomatoes.

Other years I have started tomatoes indoors under lights and have had large plants to put in the garden the end of May. By now I would be eating fresh tomatoes.

I have no conclusions as to value of ws tomatoes in my zone 4 area at this time.


    Bookmark   July 22, 2007 at 2:39AM
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windclimber(z5 KS,close to KCMO)

WS for the first time this year as an experiment that was fun and (hopefully) fruitful.
Most sprouted at natures beckon and are healthy. I used the regular enriched seed starting soil from the bags. (I mix other components to the soil and some just plain vermiculite and peat or other combos. I think with WS tho you should have a rather heavy soil, such as potting soil to help the freeze thaw effect on the seed.
Planted the seeds with son at the table in Feb. and plopped them out in 4" snow on the patio. Found sprouted seeds in some and nothing in others, come spring. Also noticed green mold or something growing in the tubs . I may need to have more ventilation.
Can't say I this is the preferred method, but works well.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2007 at 11:13AM
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WindClimber, if you're seeing green algae (the mold) you certainly need more drainage and/or ventilation. Each year as you continue to WS your germination percentages increase with the knowledge learned by observation. I'll paste in a link for a quick fix. When I go out to check on my flats I usually have a small paring knife with's for adding more drainage or a slit in the top.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2007 at 4:26PM
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Hi Trudi! I'm growing tomatoes from seed I received from you this winter. I planted the variety pack along with the Caspian Pinks. Most of the various varieties have green tomatoes on them, but it is absolutely killing me not to know what they are!!! I can recognize a pear shaped cherry and I'm wondering if the ones with the dark green shoulders are going to be black. The suspense is too much, but I'm out there checking on them all the time and I can't wait to taste the variety!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2007 at 1:07AM
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Congrats on the germination and success with your plants.

I never keep a record of what goes into that blend, but when I make it up I do put in an assortment of colors and shapes. Dark green shoulders could mean a black tomato, but maybe not ;-) The blend is always exciting and it does change from year to year, so I do hope that you'll send for more SASEs because you then get more blend. Everyone gets the blend, it comes with the Six Pack SASE and the Tomato SASE.

I just made a batch of blend last month, it's got all sorts of goodies in there from really tiny to really big, lol. Some of the very best tomato growers on the net have shared their seeds with me which have been added into the blend. In my garden this year I had several PL volunteers come up, I made space for them so that the best of them can go into the blend this winter, next year the blend will have a higher PL percentage than before now. It should be very nice.

Thank you for posting and sharing your excitement about the blend tomatoes! Your joy is exactly what it's all learn so much about your plants, and you take special care of them because they contain such great expectation--you reward yourself with your effort, the more you look after and care for them the better they will be! You will love them!



    Bookmark   July 23, 2007 at 1:52AM
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littleonefb(zone 5, MA)

I thought I would update with some pics of the WS tomato seeds that I started.

All where WS on April 1st and germinated betweed May 2-10th.
They where all sown in 16oz styrofoam cups in miracle grow potting mix, 1 seed in each cup. 16 seeds of each of the following varieties.

yellow jubilee
purple cherokee
white wonder
rutgers select
sweet 100
black cherry
warren's yellow cherry
large cherry red
xmas grape

8 of the nine seedlings where planted in pots that hold about 1 1/4 cubic feet of soil on June 3rd. I used pure miracle grow potting mix. They where about 8-15 inches tall. I missed potting up one of the tomato plants when I took this pic. It was potted up the next day and was 9 inches tall.

This pic was taken on July 4th with all 9 plants in the pic.
They ranged in height from 25- 40 inches and the sweet 100 and the black cherry already had fruit on them.

This was taken August 2. they range in height from 4-6 feet. I lost count on the number of tomatoes on the sweet 100, black cherry, xmas grape, warren's yellow cherry and large cherry red, but have been picking at least 10 on each every other day. The others have at least 25 toms on each, but none ripe yet.

WS tomato seeds can be one of many ways to start tomato seeds. Oh yes, all the seeds these plants came from where saved from last years crops.


    Bookmark   August 9, 2007 at 9:59PM
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Wow! Mazel Tov!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2007 at 10:14PM
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littleonefb(zone 5, MA)

I owe it all to you Trudi. Funny, I sent the pics to my son in Kentucky and he said "oy vay" they are taking over the fenced in yard. How come you never grew them like that when I was a kid, only after I grow up, go off to college, law school, move away from home and" get this, "become and old man? I'd say Mazel Tov, but it's not fair. I'm coming home for a visit next month, will they still be there for me?"

Old man, my ars, he's 29. Imagine what he'll be calling himself when he gets to be our age.

By the way, Trudi, got any good ideas on getting those ripe tomatoes before the chipmunks do? They just love those sweet 100's. fit perfectly in their greedy little mouths. I really, really hate them.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 1:34AM
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The ever-vigilant guard dog.

This pict is from a few years back. She's snoozing on the back driveway by the tomato pots a few weeks after they were set out. She's a great squirrel chaser.

Right now my squirrels are about to finish eating all the peaches from the seighbor's peach trees. After all the peaches are done they'll start chomping on my toms. They do get some cherries. The dog can be as big a tom thief as the squiirels, sigh.

I'll paste in a link from UC IPM on tree squirrel management, they have some good ideas.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 7:10AM
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Have tried both ways and winter sowing tomatos has worked her for me. It is a way for me to sow lots of different tomato seed that could not raise via the nurery/garden center offers. Just not having to harden them off to me is worth it.

My first attempt to winter sow planted out day after a heavy freeze 4/19, those plants way out producted any thing I bought.

This year was way to werid spring and did not get any out for 3 weeks after mothers day, my normal planting out date. Enjoying Sun Golds this week. Every thing else looks quite green. But since it was so dry the deer ate any plants that were not in full wire cages.

If not for winter sowing could never of tried so many cool types of tomatos. I just dont have the nack to harden them off it seems. Winter sowing takes care of that for me.

Suggest what works for you use that method.

Some of you are fantastic growers of tomatos and seeds.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 7:32AM
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sunsi(z5 NY)

I read your website Trudi and as an experiment for next spring I will try some winter sowing of tomatoes as you explain it using plastic containers. I have my doubts for tomatoes this far north but I have had tomato volunteers come up before when I lived about 30 mins. south of where I live now so no harm trying to see if it works.

I agree with some who say that using this method with rare verieties or limited seeds would be comedy of errors. I have an old Rodale gardening book that I believed mentioned planting peas in the ground in fall and that they would come up in spring with no problems so your method seems to be the same we'll see. :)

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 10:32AM
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lblack61(z5 NY)

I'm in Zone 5 in NY, between CNY and the "North Country", and I WS my Toms. It does work. I put the containers out between Feb and March. I don't think I'll ever do it any other way. Not having to harden them off is one very good reason for me here, because our fluctuations in temps and the chance of cold snaps in Spring can ruin my attempts to harden off seedlings (and I don't have the room indoors for how big they can get until they're safe to keep outside).


    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 12:28PM
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If you're in a short season don't WS varieties that require long seasons for maturity and expect sucess. To quote Mr Spock, "It is not logical."

Also, don't expect to have the earliest tom on the block, which for some people is a compulsion. The method is not for getting early fruits, it's for getting hardier, stronger transplants. There's no damp off problems and you can transplant seedlings while very small.

Skeptics, or anyone, can request free seeds.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 12:53PM
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