Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How to Grow Tomato Plants from Seed

My garden project this year, well, at least one of them, is to grow my own tomatoes from seed. After all, it is cheaper. Being as I live in Minnesota, the cold spring tends to hang around, so a week ago, I bought my tomato seeds to get the process started indoors.

Picking out the seeds wasn't too hard. I know I like sweet, juicy tomatoes, and when I saw the "Brandywine Red", it looked like this variety would work.

Having never done this before, I looked online for ideas, but I couldn't find something simple. I knew I didn't want to put the money into buying the trays so I was at a loss of what to do. Randomly, I picked up an old Garden Gate mag from last year and came across a reader's suggestion on how she grew her tomato plants from seed.

Exhibit A : The Rotisserie Chicken Container
If you keep the base and lid of last weeks chicken, you can use it as a nifty growing tray. All you have to do is the following:
  1. Clean both parts with hot water and soap.
  2. Punch a few holes in the bottom of the tray for drainage. I filled the tray with a teaspoon of water and watched where the water pooled, then cut small holes in these locations. Then place a chard of pottery over the holes so the dirt doesn't flood out.
  3. Next, fill the bottom tray with seed starting mix about 3/4 full. Since I used "Brandywine Red", the package says to plant at a depth of 1/8", so what I did was just place the seeds on the top of the soil, then cover over with about 1/8" of dirt.
  4. With a spray bottle, mist the top of the soil with water until it is a damp. Cover with lid.

(the tiny white specks are the tomato seeds)

At this point, I was really wondering if this was going to work. I placed the tray on my kitchen counter where the sun would hit it as different times of the day. The moisture in the soil will condensate on the lid,and trickle down, watering the soil for you. It has been seven days since I planted the seeds and I have not had to water anymore so far.

The tomato seed package says you will start to see sprouts within 7-15 days. I planted mine on March 11th, and five days later, I saw the first tiny shoots appearing. Now, two days later, each seed I planted is about one inch tall.

WOW! I can't believe it actually worked!

I took the lid off for the above photo, and then placed it back on, sitting it in it's afternoon sunny location. When the seedlings show a second set of leaves, it will be time to move them to larger pots. Stay tuned for additional updates on my tomato project 2009, growing tomato plants from seeds.