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Growing tomatoes from seed is so simple and deliciously rewarding! Even having just one or two plants will guarantee you some fruits throughout the summer and there are so many varieties to choose from, ranging from tiny mini cherries up to giant beefsteak.
Sow Tomatoes from Seed
You can sow your tomato seeds as early as February if you plan on growing them in a greenhouse, or March-April if you plan on growing them on outdoors. They can be started off on a sunny and warm windowsill. Make sure that it does get a lot of light otherwise the plants will grow tall and leggy searching for the light. I tend to use a windowsill propagator and sow two seeds per module. I then prick them out later once they’ve developed at least 2 true leaves, and out them in their own 9cm pot. Make sure to follow the sowing instructions on your seed packet as some varieties have different preferences for germination.
Grow Tomatoes from Seed
Once your seedlings are growing in their own 9cm pot, keep them growing on until you see some roots growing through the holes at the bottom of the pot. If you plant on growing your tomatoes in a greenhouse, the plants are ready to plant up. If you want to grow them outdoors, they must be hardened off first. This ensures that the plant becomes acclimatised to the weather conditions gradually, after spending the first weeks of its life in a nice, warm house. I place my tomato plants outside during the day for a couple of weeks, making sure to bring them in at night. After this, they are tough enough to survive outside providing the risk of frost has passed. If you didn’t want to grow tomatoes from seed, you could also buy plants of this size from a garden centre.
When you plant on the baby plants, you can plant tomatoes right up to the bottom leaves. The tiny hairs on the stem will grow roots meaning that the plant can absorb more water and feed, as well as being well anchored in the ground. It’s important to keep tomatoes in containers well watered as they can dry out easily. Just poke the soil and if it’s dry an inch or so it, it needs a water. Feed your tomatoes once a week with a tomato feed such as tomorite, following the dilution instructions on the packet.
Cordon varieties will need staking as well, and this is best done when the plant is young so you can train it into shape. It’s recommended to nip out the side shoots so that the plant focuses its energy into existing fruit development.
- Blossom end rot – this is where the fruit goes brown where the flower was, try to water regularly to avoid this.
- Tomato blight – some varieties are resistant, it will say on the seed packet.
- Split fruits – this is often caused by irregular watering; if a plant dries out then gets a lot of water, the fruit swells so much that it bursts.
You can start to harvest fruits when they’re fully coloured all over. You can wait for a whole vine to ripen at once, or if you’re impatient like me, pick the fruits as they ripen. If at the end of the season you still have green fruits, they can be forced to ripen by picking and keeping in a drawer with a banana. Or, you could make a delicious green tomato chutney. You could even try drying the seeds out so you can grow more tomatoes from seed the following year!
For me, the best way to enjoy a home grown tomato is to eat it as quickly as you can straight from the plant, still warm from the sun. You could try mixing tomatoes with a glug of olive oil, a pinch of salt, slices of garlic and some chopped basil leaves. Allow it to sit for a few hours to let the juices come out. This is delicious with a crusty bread.
I hope this has inspired you to grow some tomatoes from seed. Here are some more simple veg to try growing!