When To Start?
Tomato plants can be very expensive these days given the rising cost of produce at the grocery store. One way to save a lot of money is to learn how to grow tomato plants on your own. If you’re like me, you might be asking yourself when is the right time to start thinking about getting your tomato plants ready for a healthy crop. The simple answer is, right now! The sooner you prepare the better off you’re going to be.
Get the Best Tomato Seeds
As you may know there are plenty of great tomato seeds on the market. Your first step is to select a high quality seed. While you might be inclined to purchase an inexpensive seed, I strongly suggest that you spend the extra money and opt for the highest quality tomato seed that you can afford.
Your crop and taste buds will thank you for it in a few months time! Make sure that you buy your seeds from a company that is reputable and one that has a good track record selling vegetable seeds. There are too many ‘fly by night’ companies offering seeds that tend to be of a poor quality so pay attention.
I typically purchase about 20-25 seeds when needed but generally only use about 4-5 of them per season. The remaining seeds I store in a cool dark place so that I can use them the following year. This is a great tip if you would like to cut down on costs.
Planting Your Tomato Seeds
With your seeds in hand, you next step is to ensure that they get planted in a healthy environment. A lot of this will depend on where you live. In milder climates you may be able to begin your planting in late winter/early spring, while cooler climate areas will need to wait until mid to late spring (this is a general rule only). You just want to ensure that when you plant your tomatoes outdoors, that there won’t be a frost that will destroy your seedlings.
A great way that I have learned to start my seeds is to use a seed tray. Simply place a seed in each portion of the tray on top of some good sterile compost. Next, consider covering your seeds with a soil moisturizing product like vermiculite and spread about one centimeter (quarter of an inch) of this great stuff over them.
The benefit of this product is that it keeps the soil damp and also allows for the seeds to get some sunlight which is important at this stage. When you have completed this step, place your seed tray on a window-well. Water these seedlings often and regularly (and watch them carefully).
Watch for Tomato Plant Growth
You want to watch for the growth of your tomato plants. As the plant starts to develop and grow you will want to transfer them from the seed trays to a larger pot. To transfer them, just remove the entire plant (careful not to damage the roots) and place them into a larger pot. Make sure that you either use a new pot or a sterile pot – this will keep your tomato plants free from disease. You will also use fresh compost for optimum growing conditions.
Grow Your Tomatoes
After a few weeks your plants will probably need to be transferred again. At this step you can plant them outside (but ensure you can plant them outside – ensure that frost is out of the forecast), otherwise keep your tomato plants indoors for another few weeks. Once you plant your tomatoes outdoors, water them regularly and often.