Starting indoors, in a container of well moistened, sterile
seed-starting mix, make shallow furrows with a pencil or
chopstick about 1/4 in. deep. Sow seeds by dropping them
along the bottom of the furrows 1/2 in. apart.
Gently pinch together soil to cover each furrow,
covering seeds 1/4 in. deep. Water gently and label each
variety. Put container in a warm place, 75-80˚
F. As soon as seed begin germinating and stems
start to show above the soil, it's critical to provide a
strong light source such as florescent bulbs or a very
7 - Seedlings have germinated. First to appear are "baby" or
"cotyledon" leaves. Careful labeling of each variety is important
as they all look alike.
Day 15 - Seedlings are still tiny with just baby
cotyledon leaves, but growing well. Note the nice green
color of the baby leaves. This indicates that plants are
getting enough bright light to thrive.
Day 30 - The first set of "true" tomato leaves begin to
appear above the baby cotyledon leaves. The best
example of this is in front of the pencil eraser in this
Now that true leaves have emerged on all the seedlings,
it's time to transplant seedlings to larger individual
containers so they have enough room to properly grow and
develop. This process is called "pricking out" the
To "prick out": lift seedlings from below, holding each
one gently by their baby cotyledon leaves and scooping
up entire soil ball from below. We find an old fork
works well for this.
If roots have grown together into a clump, gently tease
seedlings apart, holding by baby cotyledon leaves.
Transplant each seedling into its own container (at
least 3-4 in. in diameter) filled with good quality,
well moistened potting mix. Make a hole to receive each
Insert each seedling into the hole to the base of its
Tomato seedlings will readily grow new roots along their
buried stems and the resulting plants will be sturdy and
vigorous. Gently water in the seedlings to settle the
Here are examples of what healthy and cold stressed
seedling look like. Remember that seedlings need
to be kept at about 65 - 70 degrees after they have true
leaves and until they are ready to go into the garden.
spring weather has warmed up and night temperatures are regularly
in the 55 degree range, it's time to plant well rooted,
established seedlings outdoors. First plan to acclimate your
plants: move them outside into the sun, first for a few hours ,
then gradually increasing over a weeks' time until they are in
full sun all day. this process is called "hardening off"
and it avoids transplant shock.
At transplanting time, if hardened off young plants are
more than 6 in. tall, remove the bottom branches before
planting. New roots will form along the buried
Prepare the hole to receive the seedling.
out plant by overturning pot to squeeze or tap out the entire
root ball. Note the snipped off lower branches on this example
ready to go into the ground.
Settle the seedling into the hole, so the entire stem
will be covered up to where leafy branches begin.
Pull soil around the plant and firm.
Water gently but thoroughly and erect your tomato
supports. Be sure they are well secured, because your
plants will grow large and heavy with fruit, so you will
need strong support for the branches.
Enjoy the harvest! For heirloom varieties like our
Rainbow's End, it's best to wait for full ripeness
before picking the luscious, color fruit.
Chianti Rose can be
harvested at any stage you like them.
Don't forget your sauce tomatoes. Here's a bowl of our variety
Pompeii all ready to put up. We like to freeze them whole, then
make sauce later when the weather is cold and miserable, and
making big pots of tomato sauce is fragrant fun.
Joy cherry tomatoes are very prolific and delicious.
Garden Candy Cherries
are beautiful in the garden and kitchen.
beefsteak giant slicers are heavy with sweet flesh and
lots of juice - perfect for open "BLT" sandwiches.
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