Growing tomatoes from seed is one of the pleasures of summer gardening. The winter past wasn’t particularly harsh but it did drag on and it deterred many from planting out. Now that the weather is more forgiving of young plants, you can put your plans into action and get your seedlings out.
Here we take a quick whizz at what you need to do to produce a nice little crop of super succulent, juicy tomatoes.
Tomatoes are a delicate crop, so choose a warm spot in front of a south-facing wall or fence to plant your tomatoes for the best results. During the winter, dig up your plot thoroughly (being careful not to bring clay or granite to the surface) and incorporate a good compost into your soil. Shortly before planting add a good source of fertiliser to the plot. If you lack ground space, you can easily grow excellent tomatoes in 2 gallon sized pots or grow bags, but remember to water them regularly. In addition, regular feeding with a good fertiliser will be necessary.
Sowing & planting
Sow the seeds into a standard-sized propagator filled with a good seed starting mix or compost. Before you sow your seeds dampen the soil in your propagator and allow it to sit overnight.
Sow one seed in each cell of the propagator by placing the seed on top of the soil in the centre of the cell. Sprinkle a light cover of compost or seed starting mix over the seed. Cover the propagator with a cloak. Alternatively, if only a few plants are required you may use a pot of any size and a home-made cloak.
To make a home-made cloak take a small, clear-plastic bottle and cut off the top part of the bottle. Small soda bottles cut at the top of the label are ideal for this purpose. Place the cloak over the sown area. Keep the soil moist, but not wet, for the best results.
Keep the newly sown seeds at around 65 degrees for the most rapid growth. When the seeds have sprouted and matured into seedlings that are 6 inches high, transplant the seedlings into your plot, 2-gallon-sized pots or grow bags.
Looking after the Plants
Tie the main stem of each plant to a cane or provide a cage for each plant. Water and feed the plants regularly, especially in hot weather, to keep the soil moist. Alternating dryness and flooding will lead to many problems, primarily split-fruit and blossom-end rot.
Pick the fruits when ripe and fully coloured. Always harvest the fruit with a sharp knife or pruners to avoid damaging the plant.
Tomatoes can be kept in a polythene bag at the bottom of your fridge in the same way you would shop-bought produce. For longer storage they may be frozen or simmered down as a preserve. There are many ways you can keep your tomatoes for future use, such as canning, oven-drying or reducing to an intense homemade tomato purée – just do a bit of research beforehand so you avoid some of the common pitfalls of preserving.
If you chose to freeze your tomatoes, for the best results peel and remove the cores of your tomatoes, simmer the tomatoes on your stove in a pot of water for 5 minutes and sieve them through a strainer to rid them of water. Allow them to cool and then pack into a container and place them in your freezer. Frozen vegetables keep for approximately one year. Be sure to date your containers!
If you found Growing tomatoes from seed helpful, you’ll find more expert tips for growing your own vegetables and fruit on our Gardening channel.Tags: Gardening, growing vegetables, tomatoes Last modified: May 15, 2023