Here our goal is to be able to plant tomatoes which have been started from seeds. Starting tomatoes from seed can be both time consuming and fun. So, if you would like to watch nature take its course, you will go to your nursery or anyplace where you can buy seed packets. Take them home and read the instructions on the back of the packet and start the process of planting tomatoes from seeds. To do this you will need a container approximately four inches deep. Yes, you can buy your plants, but here we are discussing sowing the tomato seeds.
You will then place a good well known planting soil in the container. Your nursery people will help you with getting the correct soil for planting seed tomatoes. Follow the instructions on the back of the packet which generally tells you to make a small shallow furrow on the top of the soil in the container. Make it about 1/4" deep (using a pencil eraser works well) and then drop the small seeds in the shallow furrow approx. 1/2" apart. This is the first step in starting the process of planting seed tomatoes.
Next step, you will pull or pinch the soil over the seeds you have just put in the furrow. Make sure the soil covers the seeds --Won't take much as your furrow is only 1/4" deep. If you are planting more than one kind of seed tomato, be sure and put a marker at the end of the row with the name of the tomato. If you don't do this you will never know what kind of tomato(s) you have. As seeds and small plants they mostly all look alike.
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After you have planted your seeds take a mister and spray the soil until it is good and damp. I find that a spray bottle works great. Don't soak the soil. Now isn't this fun!! You must check the container daily to make sure the soil doesn't dry out. Be sure and keep this process in your mind and you may want to jot it down on paper.Don't forget you are planting seed tomatoes, your seeds need to germinate and grow. Now take and place the container in a very sunny window or use a florescent bulb. If you don't have a good south window using florescent bulb is the next best way to go. You can find grow lights at your hardware or nursery stores. This is critical as your temperature should be around 78 to 80 degrees. You will check the soil daily and repeat the misting to keep the soil damp until the seeds germinate and sprout. Do not let your soil dry out! Remember you are in the process of planting tomatoes from seed. It will be very exciting to see the seeds sprout and begin to grow.
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About day 7 - the seedlings should have germinated. First to appear are tiny baby leaves. Here again your careful labeling of each variety is important as they all look alike.In approx one week the seedlings are still tiny but growing well. Please note that if the color of the baby leaves is a nice green, this indicates that plants are getting enough bright light to thrive.
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Before many days the first set of "true" tomato leaves begin to appear above the baby leaves. Since the true leaves have emerged on all the seedlings, and they are growing nicely, it's time to transplant seedlings to larger individual containers. This is necessary so that they have enough room to properly grow and develop. This is where using a 3x4" pot you will transplant each seedling into its own container (at least 3-4 in. in diameter) filled with good quality, well moistened potting mix. You can buy these small pots as well as the potting soil from the hardware store or your local nursery. (They will be glad to help you in anyway they can in your quest to plant seeding tomatoes.) Now make a hole to receive each seedling, and on to the next step in planting tomatoes.
To lift out" seedlings from the soil, holding each one gently by their baby leaves and scooping up the entire soil ball from below. You want all the roots! I find an old fork works well for this. Then place the plant in the hole made by your fork, and pull the soil around the plant good and tight. The 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 plants, and allow the water to run out the holes in the bottom of the container. Here a watering can with spout works good --
Your plants should be in a sunny window or maybe a small green house until the temperatures have warmed up outside to 55 degrees at night.
This will depend on where you live, your climate, etc, This is imperative in order to transplant your seeding tomato plants to the outdoors. So when the night time temperatures are warm enough, it's time to plant well rooted, established seedlings outdoors.
Next step in planting tomatoes, -- 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. Remember your plant needs warmth, but don't let them "burn" in the "hot" sun. You may need to build a plastic shelter over the plant(s). This depends on your location and climate.
At transplanting time, your young plants are more than 6 in. tall, remove the bottom branches before planting. New roots will form along the buried stem. Prepare the hole to receive the seedling.
Next turn the pot over in order to tap out the entire root ball.
Settle the seedling into the hole, so the entire stem will be covered up to where leafy branches begin. Now pull the soil around the plant and firm the soil around the plant. Cover up to where the leafy branches begin.
It will be great fun to watch your plants grow and set on tomatoes -- watch them gradually turn color! Now you know you have accomplished a great feat -- you have planted seeding tomatoes!! I know many of you have done this process for years so please feel free to add your comments or advise on planting seed tomatoes!
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Tomatoes are such a great health food and an ingredient in many, many foods. They are canned, dried, processed and used in so many different ways. So, they are very good for us.