3. After your seeds have sprouted and are about two weeks old, you’re ready to move on to part two of growing tomatoes from seed: how to transplant your seedlings. Water gently Generally, the time to start your seeds is about 6- 8 weeks before the last expected spring frost date in your area, planting the seedlings outdoors about 2 weeks after that date. How to Protect Tomatoes From Frost. Keep them covered and on heat to facilitate sprouting and water when the top of the soil appears dry. Floating row covers are sheets of lightweight fabrics that are draped directly over tomato plants. Each design has its own advantages and disadvantages. I would bet your heat and humidity is why the seeds started to germinate in the tomato. Cover a mature tomato plant with a piece of burlap, bed sheet or another light, woven cover. FYI: Don’t try to use a heating pad, they get way too hot and it’s really easy to cook your seeds and seedlings. Thinning Tomato Seedlings. This was taken out of the book “Greenhouse Tomatoes, Lettuce & Cucumbers” by S.H. (If you started seedlings in individual containers at least three inches square, simply thin out the weaker plants by snipping them off at the soil line and leaving the strongest one.) You should water so that the soil is moist, but not overly saturated. Tomato seeds kept at warm room temperature and sprayed with water twice daily should sprout within a week. After 10 or more days have passed (or when all the seeds sprout), you can remove the lid and pull them off the heat mat. Transplanting into the garden. Always plant tomatoes in full sun and if possible, do not grow tomatoes (or any Solanaceous plants) in the same location season after season. Water gently and label each variety. Once seedlings sprout, stop watering from above, and water from below instead. Place pot in a saucer of water or seed tray /propagator in a large tray to water from below and cover with cling film or lid. Cold Hardy Tomatoes. This should happen over a 10-day period. Any part of the tomato stem that's covered with soil will develop roots, and a large root system is important for transplants. ». Cold is the #1 reason for blossom drop. what is the benifit of waiting for them to get their true leaves before transplanting? Be mindful of the dampness of the dirt while your seedlings are indoors. Waiting to hang the light can lead to problems…namely long leggy stems. I can do that most of the time, but I've had a few seedlings react badly on occasion because of the sudden drop in humidity. Two kinds are most common: floating row covers and tunnel row covers. Step 3 Backfill around the tomato seedling, pressing the soil down firmly to hold it in place. Set the seedlings about three inches apart in their new container(s). Use a Cover to Protect Tomatoes When frost or temperatures are in the forecast for overnight (mid-30s or even 40ºF), cover your tomato plants with clear plastic or a tarp. Can I plant transplant them now or will they be okay if I let them grow up taller while I wait to get their true leaves? For tomatoes, ALWAYS support the row cover with a frame such as our stainless steel hoops. Tomatoes don’t need light to germinate but hanging it on day one means it’s there as soon as that first seeding appears. Using plastic sheeting to protect tomato plants Make sure plastic does not touch tomato plants. Indeterminate plants will continue to grow and produce fruit all season long until the plants die from hard frost in the fall. ● The ideal conditions for germinating tomato seeds We usually don’t fertilizer until after we’ve transplanted them from the small cell seed starting trays. If you're only growing a few plants, sow two seeds into a 7.5cm (3") pot. If this leaves lots of space at the top of the pot, more soil can be added as the plant grows. 2. Placing a sheet of clear plastic over the bed will also help. However, there are a couple of things you could do to speed it up a little bit. I'm not quite sure how to stake it like this, however - what should I use to stake it? You want to give your tomatoes plenty of time to grow in some healthy roots before you pull them apart. The soil in containers and raised beds warms up faster than garden soil, so they're ideal for heat-lovers like tomatoes. As soon as the seedlings break the surface, move them to bright light. Pot them up individually in half-gallon milk cartons or four- to six-inch-diameter pots. Starting seeds indoors is optional with many vegetables, but tomato seeds need a constant soil temperature of at least 60 degrees, and preferably 80 degrees, to germinate. When should I re-pot my tomato seedlings? Review seedling needs in Starting Tomatoes from Seed and adjust growing conditions as needed. Then, place the seed on top of the medium and gently press down, making sure the seed is still exposed. The more space they’re given in the greenhouse, the stronger they’ll be, as tightly packed plants tend to be drawn upwards with weak stems. The reason for watering from below is so that we won’t disturb the seeds just below the surface, or compact the soil when watering from above. You can transplant them now and bury the stem a bit to help them get stronger. Tomatoes planted in garden rows can be protected from cold temperatures and frost with row covers. Some I leave growing on the edges of the compost piles…some I transplant to the pigs’ outdoor play area so they can enjoy fresh-from-the-vine tomatoes in a few months…and the process begins again. There’s not a real science to this, but you can do a few things to ensure the best results. When should you repot tomato seedlings? Avoid … Use a kitchen sieve to spread soilless seed-starting mix evenly over the top of the seeds to the depth of two times the seed diameter. 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