By: Heather Rhoades
Growing tomatoes from seed can open a whole new world of specialty, heirloom, or unusual tomatoes. While your local nursery may only sell a dozen or two tomato varieties as plants, there are literally hundreds of tomato varieties available as seeds. Let’s take a look at how to start tomato plants from seed.
The best time to start tomato plants from seeds is about six to eight weeks before you plan on planting them out into your garden. For areas that get frost, plan on planting out your tomato seedlings two to three weeks after your last frost, so you will start growing tomatoes from seed at four to six weeks before your last frost date.
Tomato seeds can be started in small pots of damp seed starting soil, damp potting soil, or in moistened peat pellets. In each container you will be planting two tomato seeds. This will help ensure that each container will have a tomato seedling, in case some of the tomato seeds do not germinate.
The tomato seeds should be planted about three times deeper than the size of the seed. This will be about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch (3-6 mm.), depending on the tomato variety that you have chosen to grow.
After the tomato seeds have been planted, place the seedling containers in a warm place. For fastest germination, temperatures of 70 to 80 degrees F. (21-27 C.) are best. Bottom heat will also help. Many gardeners find that placing the planted tomato seed containers on top of the refrigerator or other appliance that generates heat from running works very well for germination. A heating pad on low covered with a towel will also work.
After planting the tomato seeds, it is just a matter of waiting for the seeds to germinate. The tomato seeds should germinate in one to two weeks. Cooler temperatures will result in a longer germination time and warmer temperatures will make the tomato seeds germinate faster.
Once the tomato seeds have germinated, you can take the tomato seedlings off the heat source, but they should still be kept somewhere warm. The tomato seedlings will need bright light and the soil should be kept moist. Watering from below is best, but if this is not possible, water the tomato seedlings so that water does not fall on the new sprouts. A bright south-facing window will work for light, or a fluorescent or grow bulb placed a few inches (8 cm.) above the tomato seedlings will work.
Once the tomato seedlings have a set of true leaves you can give them quarter strength water soluble fertilizer.
If your tomato seedlings get leggy, this means that they are not getting enough light. Either move your light source closer or increase the amount of light the tomato seedlings are getting. If your tomato seedlings turn purple, they need some fertilizer and you should apply the quarter strength fertilizer again. If your tomato seedlings suddenly fall over, they have damping off.
Growing tomatoes from seed is a fun way to add some unusual variety to your garden. Now that you know how to plant tomato seeds, a whole new world of tomatoes is open to you.
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By Jennifer Poindexter
Is a greenhouse the newest addition to your property?
If so, you might be scrambling to learn all the different ways you can use it. One way your greenhouse can be useful is to grow tomatoes.
There isn’t a ton of difference between growing tomatoes outdoors or in a greenhouse. If you’re interested in learning how to put your greenhouse to work in this area, you’re in the right place.
I’ll walk you through each step of the process. Here’s what you must know to produce gorgeous greenhouse tomatoes.
Let’s begin with the obvious questions? Why should you grow tomatoes in a greenhouse instead of in a typical garden?
A greenhouse can be helpful to extend the grow season, and in my experience, tomatoes produce better inside a greenhouse. The heat, if vented properly, seems to help them thrive.
The greenhouse setting also is great for deterring impacts from the elements surrounding your tomato plants.
In periods of heavy rain, it can create ideal conditions for fungal diseases to harm your crops. A greenhouse can help stop these effects.
Now that you know why you might want to consider growing tomatoes in a greenhouse, let’s discuss how you create the ideal growing conditions.
Tomatoes can be grown in containers, planted in the ground, or planted in raised beds when growing in a greenhouse.
If growing tomatoes in a container, ensure it drains properly. You should also plant the tomatoes in amended, quality, well-draining soil.
Tomatoes need a minimum of eight hours of sunlight. If you’re growing tomatoes year-round, you might need to supplement with a grow light.
Keep in mind, grow lights require two hours to every one hour of natural sunlight. It’s a good idea to put your grow lights on a timer to make sure your plants are getting every hour of light they need to thrive.
The last thing you must consider when creating ideal growing conditions in your greenhouse is heat. If you’re growing tomatoes during colder portions of the year, the greenhouse can’t get lower than 60-degrees Fahrenheit at night and should hang around 70-degrees Fahrenheit during the day.
Be prepared to supplement heat as needed to give your tomatoes exactly what they need to thrive inside your greenhouse.
Now that you understand what your tomato plants need, let’s discuss how you can begin growing them.
When growing tomatoes within a greenhouse, it’s best to choose determinate or smaller varieties of the plant.
The reason being, if you plant indeterminate tomatoes, they could take over your entire growing area. Once you have the right variety picked out, it’s time to decide if you’ll transplant seedlings or grow your tomatoes from seed.
Don’t fret if you haven’t quite decided. I’m going to walk you through each method of planting. The easiest way to begin growing tomatoes is to transplant seedlings that you’ve purchased from a local nursery.
If you’re growing tomatoes in a bed, raised or in the ground, be sure there’s three feet of space between the rows and two feet of space between each plant.
Dig a hole deep enough to support the roots of the plant. Place the plant in the hole and fill in the hole. Press the soil around the base of the tomato plant to avoid any air reaching the roots of the plant.
You follow the same process if growing in a container. The biggest difference is you’ll want only one plant per container.
Also, ensure the container is large enough to support the plant in its mature state.
The next method for growing tomatoes is from seed. There are two different ways to go about this. The first is to start your seeds in grow trays.
Be sure to fill the grow trays with quality soil. Put two seeds in each cell of the grow tray. This is an insurance policy in case one of the seeds fails to germinate.
Once the seeds germinate, ensure they receive plenty of sunlight. Keep the soil moist by misting it with a spray bottle.
When the plants are approximately a half foot tall, it’s time to transplant them to their permanent location.
Use the same spacing mentioned above depending upon if your tomatoes will be grown in a bed or a container.
You can also direct sow tomato seeds. Plant the seeds approximately three inches below the surface of the soil and try to keep a foot of space between each seed.
Keep the soil moist while you’re waiting on germination to occur. Once the plants have sprouted, thin them to where there’s two feet of space between the plants in a bed.
If you planted multiple seeds in a container, for germination insurance, pick the strongest plant and remove the others.
It’s wise to use scissors to remove the unwanted seedlings. Snip the seedlings at the soil level to remove them. This avoids damaging the roots of the tomato plants you’re keeping.
These are a few ways you can begin growing tomato plants in your greenhouse. Pick the option which works best for you and begin your greenhouse gardening journey.
Caring for greenhouse tomatoes isn’t an overly complicated process. Tomatoes need water no matter where they’re growing.
Use the deep watering method when raising tomatoes in a greenhouse. You can apply more water fewer days of the week.
When you insert your finger into the soil, and it feels dry to the first knuckle, you know it’s time to add more water.
This method of watering helps to avoid overwatering while also encouraging deeper roots. You may need to water plants more frequently in a greenhouse than outdoors because they’re growing in less soil.
However, practicing this style of watering is still a great way to supply what your plants need while maintaining optimal health.
The next thing you should do is fertilize your tomatoes. The fertilizer should be high in phosphorus, calcium, nitrogen, and magnesium. Follow the instructions of your chosen fertilizer to be sure it’s applied correctly.
Once your tomato plants reach a foot in height, it’s time to begin staking them. You can use tomato cages or other methods of staking. The main thing is to provide support to ensure the stems don’t break.
Tomato plants do need to be pollinated. You can help them by shaking your plants, gently. You should also remove the bottom foliage of the plants. This helps lessen the amount of soil and water which will cling to them and can avoid disease.
When your plants begin fruiting, thin them to where there’s only five tomatoes per plant. This will reduce the load on them.
You should also spray your plants weekly with an insecticide and fungicide to prevent pests and diseases.
There are special things you’ll need to do if you’re growing tomatoes in your greenhouse during the summer.
The first is to monitor the humidity. It should be around 80% humidity inside your greenhouse. If you go above this, you’re creating an ideal space for fungal disease.
You should also vent your greenhouse during the summer. When it’s 80- and 90-degrees Fahrenheit outside, it’s going to be sweltering in your greenhouse.
This will cause your plants to become stressed. Be sure to provide air flow, so the heat has somewhere to go to avoid harming your plants.
By following these tips, when caring for your tomatoes, you should have an enjoyable growing experience.
Inside a greenhouse, the biggest threats to your tomatoes are fungal diseases. You can spray the plants with a fungicide, weekly, to head off any potential issues.
However, there are multiple pests you must remain aware of when growing greenhouse tomatoes. The main pests which could bother your tomatoes are aphids, flea beetles, whiteflies, and cutworms.
Yet, if you spray your tomatoes with an insecticidal soap and place diatomaceous earth around the base of your tomato plants, you should be able to treat and deter any potential threats.
Hopefully, your tomatoes will grow to become strong and healthy by staying aware of what could find your greenhouse and bring harm to your plants.
Harvesting greenhouse tomatoes isn’t different from when you grow them anywhere else. When the tomatoes begin turning their assigned color, pick them.
Don’t allow your tomatoes to become too brightly colored because you risk them becoming overripe. This will only attract pests to your plants.
Once the tomatoes are picked, place them on your counter (out of direct sunlight) or in a brown paper sack to finish ripening.
You can enjoy them as-is or preserve them via freezing, dehydrating, or canning. Tomatoes can also be stored in your refrigerator.
However, be sure to set them out on the counter, for a few hours, before use to allow the juices to begin flowing again.
Growing tomatoes in a greenhouse could be a wonderful experience. It could allow you to have delicious, homegrown tomatoes year-round.
If you love their fresh taste and the experience of gardening, consider using your greenhouse for this purpose. It could become your new favorite method of growing tomatoes.
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Plus, when you grow your own, you have a continuous supply вЂ“ enough for canning, freezing, drying, with some extras to share.
Anyone can do it. Even if you live in a house with only a small yard or in an apartment patio, you can grow tomatoes in pots or containers . You can even grow them indoors.
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|Growing Tomatoes From Seeds||Growing Tomato Plants||YOUR questions about tomatoes|
|How do I grow tomatoes from seeds?||Growing tomatoes in pots||Tomato: fruit or vegetable?|
|Tomato Varieties : determinate tomatoes, indeterminate tomatoes||Staking tomatoes : the difference between tomato cages and tomato stakes||Tomato nutrition facts: what are the health benefits of tomatoes?|
|Hybrid and heirloom tomato varieties : whatвЂ™s the difference?||Watering tomato plants : top tips||Harvesting tomatoes : what you need to know before you pick|
|How to plant tomatoes||Hanging tomatoes : what varieties to plant||Ask your questions or give a tip about growing tomatoes|
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It may seem counterintuitive, but bury about two-thirds of your tomato’s stem in a deep hole. If you have heavy soil and it’s hard to dig deep, dig a trench and lay the plant down sideways so that the top sticks out. It seems odd but it works: The plant will develop roots all along the buried stem—more roots means a stronger plant!
Situate your plants about three feet apart on all sides. “Tomatoes need air to circulate around them to reduce the risk of disease,” says LeHoullier. Indeterminate and some determinate types will need a stake placed a few inches from the stem for support. Tie up the plant loosely with twine every 6 to 12 inches as it grows.
Most veteran gardeners have started their journeys into the plant world by growing tomatoes. Although this fruit may come with a few challenges, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of picking (and eating) your first ripe tomato.
That said, you can always go the ultra-easy route and use a kit. That’s right, you can grow juicy tomatoes right on your windowsill even if you have no outdoor space. The Back to the Roots Organic Cherry Tomato Windowsill Planter is a complete Mason jar grow kit that includes a custom soil blend and fertilizer to give your plant all the nutrients it needs. As with all Back to the Roots products, it’s 100% organic and non-GMO, and you don’t even have to transplant it. You’ll have delicious cherry tomatoes year-round. (No green thumb required.)
After reading this article about how to grow tomatoes in a pot, you may feel inspired to learn more about other veggies that are equally easy to cultivate and don’t take up a lot of space. Be sure to check out our guide to the easiest vegetables to grow in your home garden and have fun.