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tomato seeds
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green thumb
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Starting Tomato Seeds Indoors - Simple Inexpensive Gardening Tips
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Starting Tomato Seeds Indoors - Simple Inexpensive Gardening Tips

Starting tomato seeds indoors is a great way to begin your tomato gardening adventure. Starting tomato seeds indoors several weeks before the last frost date gives you a head start on the growing season. This is very important for regions that have short growing seasons.

It is widely known that growing your own fresh tomatoes is far cheaper in the long run than purchasing tomatoes at your local supermarket. By starting tomato seeds indoors yourself, you can extend those savings even further compared to the costs of purchasing tomato transplants.

While starting your own tomato seeds is fairly simple and inexpensive there are a few simple gardening tips to be aware of. I have put together some of the best tips I use when starting tomato seeds indoors.

When using containers, or seed trays, from the previous season always properly clean and disinfect them before use. Use a solution of two parts vinegar to one part water or if need be a 10% solution of bleach. Rinse the containers off thoroughly and set them outside to dry. This will help prevent the spread of some diseases such as blight.

Use a high quality, organic seed starting mix when starting seeds. What ever you do, do not use garden soil to start your tomato seeds because regular garden soil is packed with bacteria and fungi that prey on tomato seeds and seedlings. A mix of sifted top soil, compost and perlite, can also be used, but it should be sterilized before starting tomato seeds indoors.

Tomato seeds can typically be started indoors about six to eight weeks before the last frost date. Make sure you carefully read the directions given on the seed packet of your particular variety of tomato. Sometimes a green thumb comes from simply reading the back of the seed packet and following the instructions. The instructions on the back of the seed packet let you know when to plant the seeds, how far apart to sow seed, and when to harvest and so on. It's best to use high quality organic tomato seeds and heirloom tomato seeds. The importance of using organic seeds is essential to make certain that no chemicals were used on the tomato seeds or their parent plant.

It is a very good idea to label your planted seeds with the name of the type of tomato, the variety and the date seeded. This is a must if you are starting a lot of different tomato seeds at one time to avoid confusion. Marking the label with a date of when the tomato seeds were planted will help you keep track of when that particular variety is supposed to be germinating, and this way you can keep track of when is does start to germinate.

Tomato seeds will germinate somewhere between 55 to 75°F. If it is difficult to keep these temperatures, you can use a seed starter heat mat or seed propagator to maintain proper temperatures. Sometimes I will soak my tomato seeds in warm water sprout them. This method takes a couple of days. By doing this, you are giving your seeds a jump start, and you will be assured that your seeds have germinated before planting them.

Once your seeds have germinated you can place them in a south facing window and then turn the containers which you have planted your seeds in a few times throughout the day. This will keep the tomato seedlings from leaning towards the sunlight, and by turning the pots, you will help strengthen the stems. It would be better if you could place your seedlings under a fluorescent grow light as tomato seedlings need from 14 to 16 hours of light.

Watering is important, and it is best to place a shallow tray of water under your tomato seedling trays and pots. This way the starter soil mix will absorb the water from the bottom and stimulate a much stronger root system.

When starting tomato seeds indoors, use a small fan (set at low speed) to improve air flow once the tomato seedlings reach about two inches tall. By increasing the air circulation, you will decrease the chances of disease in your seedlings and you will also encourage the development of stronger stems.

Once your tomato seedlings have established their true leaves you can lightly mist them with a compost tea made out of diluted liquid fish fertilizer.

After about 5-7 weeks, your seedlings are ready to be harden off. This is done by setting out your seedlings for a few hours each day, increasing the amount of sunlight over the week. This will prevent your tomato seedlings from being shocked once you permanently put them outside.

One final tip is to try is to pat the seedlings gently with the palm of your hand a couple times a day. This little trick will encourage stronger stems on your tomato seedlings and bushier growth.

With these tomato growing tips you will find that starting tomato seeds indoors will be more fun and easier then you may think.


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