Get your tomato season off to a solid start this year with some smart planning. Tomato season will be here before we know it! If this is your year to shift from buying tomato plants to growing your own tomato seedlings, we have a few important tips for this rewarding effort. Not only is growing tomatoes from seed cost-effective, but you also have more control over the tomato varieties available to you and your growing season as well. From choosing seeds to starting seeds indoors to transplanting them to your garden, there are many decisions to make to create the tomato garden of your dreams.
Choosing Tomato Seeds in 3 Easy Steps
1) Determinate or Indeterminate: Consider Your Growing Space
Before you choose your tomato seeds, consider your growing space. Are you working with ample space and plenty of trellising, a small garden plot, or a sunny patio? The amount of space you have is a foundational consideration when you are selecting your tomato seeds. Tomato varieties can be divided into two main categories, indeterminate and determinate, and they have drastically different space requirements:
Determinate Varieties (also known as bush varieties) have a set size that they will grow to, after which they will fruit and then die off. Best for smaller garden spaces and container gardens, determinate varieties are a more manageable option and require much less pruning and trellising.
Indeterminate Varieties don’t have a set height/ length that they will reach. Instead, they continue as a vine. Indeterminate varieties require pruning, plenty of space to grow, and more attention to their support system with trellis netting or other trellising. Indeterminate varieties are known for better flavor, though, so if space is not an issue for you, opt for indeterminate.
2) Choose the Right Seeds for Your Region
Choosing the variety of tomatoes that you want to grow is the fun part! The size and color of the tomatoes you want to grow are among your first choices to make. Next, take into consideration your specific region’s climate. If you are growing tomatoes in the south, you’ll very likely choose a variety that gardeners further north will not choose. Dig into your local gardening information for your best options.
3) Try Heirloom Seeds for Superior Flavor
Heirloom tomatoes tend to be sweeter and also have a higher concentration of flavorful compounds. For your best year of tomatoes yet, opt for heirloom seeds. For a selection of good tomato varieties to plant according to type and growing region, check outthis article from Mother Earth News.
Start Seeds Indoors with a Growing Light
Starting seeds indoors is an important step, especially if you live in a northern zone. Not only does it extend your growing season significantly, but it also ensures that your seed germinate properly. Plus, your seeds will be protected from a surprise late-spring frost. No matter how much sun your south-facing windows may get, don’t skip using a growing light. With a proper growing light, your tomato seedlings will get the necessary start to become vibrant tomato plants that transition to the outdoors with ease.
Support Your Seedlings
When your seedlings are nice and strong, you can start their transition to the great outdoors! Your local region’s climate will dictate your timing to a certain degree, but there are products that give you a jumpstart on your growing season. If you want to plant your seedlings outdoors before your growing season suggests, theSeason Starter Insulated Plant Protector can be used to gain two weeks (some say up to six weeks!) of outdoor growing time. Seedlings need plenty of light and warmth and if the temperatures aren’t in your favor they will struggle to thrive. The Season Starter is made of flexible plastic tubes that form a circular “wall of water” around each tomato plant. Each tube is filled with water that, in the event of a frost, will freeze, insulating the tomato plant. The frozen tubes of water serve as a makeshift igloo to offer your plants a better growing temperature.Harvest Guard fabric is also a great option for protecting against a cold night.
Whether you are a seasoned tomato grower or just getting started with a patio tomato bush, be assured that your first tomato sandwich of the season will be worth all the planning you’re doing now! Browse all of our tomato-specific Dalen productshere, and most importantly, enjoy the process of growing tomatoes!