Start your tomato seeds now – It’s almost time to start planting!
And, so, it begins…
Typically in the San Fernando Valley we will plant tomatoes outside around the end of March or beginning of April. Counting back 6 – 8 weeks from that target date is, well, now! That means it’s time to start tomato seeds and nurture them indoors until nighttime temperatures are consistently in the mid-fifties and the seedlings are strong enough to be planted in the ground.
Last weekend I started 18 varieties of tomatoes from seed. That’s just the beginning. I’ll start more seed but I also will allow plenty of room in the garden for tomatoes that I buy at seedling sales. Going to the sales and searching for new varieties that I haven’t yet tried is one of my greatest pleasures and I’ll never stop doing that!
We had a lovely afternoon on Sunday and I took full advantage by doing my seed work out in the garden. Frankly, the mess is easier to clean there so, if you can be outside or in a greenhouse to get your seed started, all the better.
I began with a huge plastic tub full of the ingredients that go in my seed starting medium. I like the plastic tub because it’s easy to move, easy to add water to and the high sides contain my potential spills. If you’re really doing a lot, you might find mixing the medium in a wheelbarrow very convenient.
Into the tub went equal parts organic peat moss, organic vermiculite and organic perlite. When mixed together the combination will provide a light medium that will retain enough moisture to encourage germination without drowning or rotting the tiny seeds.
Using my hands, I lightly lifted and tossed the ingredients to combine.
Then, I gently added water and mixed again. You want the medium to be moist when you add the seed.
Next, I took my containers (I like little pulp pots) and scooped some of the growing medium into them.. I gently pat it down without compacting and then added more to fill each cell to the top.
Using the end of a pencil, I made three holes in each cell. The holes were about 1/4 inch deep. I dropped one seed into each hole and then carefully covered them up with the potting mixture that was displaced when I made the holes.
I immediately added markers to each tray of seeds so I would know what I was growing. Seems like a no-brainer, but even though I do this right away I somehow always end up with one mystery plant! I included the name of the tomato and my start date on the marker.
Using a spray bottle filled with room temperature water, I moistened the growing mixture, taking care to spray each cell. The growing medium should be moist but not wet. To help retain moisture, I then put the trays into ziploc bags. The bags are left open so air can circulate.
My grow lights are set up (but not turned on until the little plants begin to appear) and heat mats are turned on. I’ve put the bags with the seedling trays on top of the mats as seeds need heat to germinate. Now, I’ll give a light spray of water each day and watch and wait.
See how easy it is? Now, go get set up to start your seeds. And, check back often. I’ll keep you updated on the progress of my seeds and the next steps of this seedling adventure.