Sowing tomatoes for a tasty summer treatPosted By: rocket veg Category: Growing Veg, Seasonal Tips
I’ve been sowing tomato seed this week. I always use a method which works for me – a 9cm pot for each variety filled with moist seed compost (peat-free of course!) all ready and waiting; the seeds emptied out from the foil packet onto a dry saucer and then picked up using the blunt end of a matchstick, dipped into water so that a seed clings to it for easy transfer to the compost. I usually sow a ring of six or so seeds with a couple in the middle space – then cover with a gently scattering of fine compost or vermiculite.
This year I have sown Sweet Baby (sweet cherry fruits with great flavour), Cuor di Bue (‘heart of ox’ – big, pointed fruits); Tigerella (‘Mr Stripy’ which fruit early); and Rosella, a new variety for me. I try to keep a record of how well each variety performs so that I know which work best for me.
Although I have a heated propagator, tomato seed can be germinated very successfully if the pots are placed in a polythene bag which is then put in a warm place, such as an airing cupboard. Whichever method you use, keep a close eye on things as tomato seed germinates surprisingly fast – a couple of days for most varieties – and once the tiny pale green shoots appear, remove the pots and stand them in a saucer in a cool but bright spot so that they can put on steady growth. Too much warmth and the seedlings will become leggy and weak.
Once your seedlings have developed a pair of proper (‘true’) leaves, gently ease each from the pot – a small table fork makes the job simple – and pop it into a pot of its own so that it has space to develop. Water well, allowing surplus water to drain away.
As with all plants which are grown ‘to do their stuff’ in a single season, timing is important. Tomato plants are frost tender, so the trick is to have them ready for transferring into their final growing place – growbag or large pot on a sunny patio or in a greenhouse – when the risk of cold nights has completely passed.
If you have never grown your own tomatoes from seed, do give it a go this year. It is surprisingly easy and provided certain conditions - a good amount of sunshine, copious watering and regular feeding - are in place, you will be rewarded with a crop of delicious fruits.