About two weeks ago I pulled out the packets of mixed heirloom tomato seeds I had purchased from Diggers and made my first attempt to grow tomatoes from seed.
Two weeks later, and I’m seeing no signs of germination, so chances are I managed to botch the whole process. Which is why it’s really handy that one of the things I attended at the Heronswood open day over the weekend was a 30 minute session on how to grow vegetables from seed.
The basic gist seems to be that you need good soil temperatures (above 10c) and constant water – but not so much that the seeds rot!
With this in mind I made a second attempt at starting tomatoes from seed again today. (And even though I am informed that it’s too late to be growing tomatoes from seed. The advice I was given was to choose a late setting variety and one that produces smaller fruit as they take less effort to make. Hence the choice of Black Cherry Tomatoes.)
I started with a large punnet tray I salvaged from my mother’s house.
I also managed to acquire a large glass pane from my hard rubbish scouring. I grabbed it with the intention of making my own mini greenhouse, but as the weather warms I suspect that is a project that will be on hold until next winter. In the meantime, I’ll just be popping it on top of the punnet tray in an attempt to keep temperatures a bit warmer as the weather this week is still quite chilly. (Of course, now it’ll probably turn out that I’ve managed to bake the seeds). Since it turns out to be almost impossible to photograph glass (it is see-through after all) I haven’t included a shot of it here. But rest assured, I possess it!
The seminar I went to suggested using a seed raising mix, but since I don’t have any I’ve improvised with potting mix, and hopefully it does the job. I filled the tray with the potting mix and wet it slightly, to make it easier to work with.
Then I marked out three parallel lines to place the tomato seeds along. There’s no real logic for this except that it looks neater and will make it easier to transplant the seedlings later if they’re slightly further apart. I was assured on Saturday that you just have to tap the seeds in a rough row – not even worrying about spacing – and they’ll still grow.
Finally I watered them into place. The general rule is that you plant a seed twice as deep as it is round, but again I was told that for smaller seeds you often don’t have to worry about this step. Here’s hoping that advice was correct!
Once all that was done I placed the glass panel into place. This should (hopefully) have the added benefit of reducing water loss so my seeds are less likely to dry out. I suspect that’s what happened to the first lot.
I have hopes of being able to gift at least one or two of these tomato plants come Christmas-time, so keep your fingers crossed for me that it works out!
Have you ever had any problems growing from seed? Or had garden plans backfire on you? I’d love to know I’m not alone in this!