This is a great way to get the tomatoes which you would like rather than the ones which are available at the garden centres. They don’t regularly have a wide range and with over 7000 to choose from you should be able to find one which you like.
You can buy seeds from many different outlets – on-line, garden centres, some Do it yourself stores and mail order. Often the mail order ones are small plug plants which are more often than not very good quality, although I have to say for me, there is just something about watching that first sprout push its way out of the compost which I find sadly, incredibly fulfilling.
Growing Tomatoes from Seed
If this is your first time at growing tomatoes from seeds it does not have to be a costly venture. Seedlings can be developed in any little pot or vessel which has decent drainage holes. Yoghurt pots are really good and usually readily obtainable. If you want to take this up as a sideline it is worth buying seed trays and a propagator, however, if you are just developing a couple of plants to have in a grow bag on your terrace, balcony or in your hanging basket. Plastic bags with an elastic band round the top of the tub can be just as good as a propagator.
It is always a decent thought to grow a few additional seeds than you are expecting to plant just in case one of those mishaps which befall us all, like knocking plants over, or having some small blighter consume them. If you do have spare plants, you can at all times hand them to friends or neighbours and spread the word.
Plant the seeds inside if achievable for quicker germination and store them in a well lit area, like your conservatory or windowsill so they do not get too leggy searching for the light.
The ideal temperature needs to be 18-21 C (65-70F) and if you are able to use a propagator that will be a plus. This acts as a mini greenhouse for your plants. The bottom of a fizzy drinks bottle of the correct size can be cut and positioned over the pot can give the same effect. Once the seedling appears and has cast off its seed pod, the plants need to have air circulating or the seedling may rot. Therefore, the top wants to be taken off the propagator.
So to summarise:
* The seeds will grow between, eight to twelve days depending on the temperature. It is advisable to water young seedlings in the tray so that they are not knocked over with watering
* If you like trying something from the heritage range of tomatoes, you can link up with “The Heritage Seed Library” here in the UK or “The Seed Savers Exchange” in the US both of which have seed swap registers. If you wish to save seeds from the Heritage tomatoes for the subsequent year or to share you can:
* Carefully scoop out the seeds from your chosen tomato
* Put onto a plate taking care to divide them
* Let them to dry out naturally
* Put in a paper envelope with details of the tomato and any special growing instructions
* Keep in a cool place either in the fridge or the freezer – I put them in the freezer in freezer bags. The zip up ones are good.
Lesley Pirrie is an expert in growing tomatoes. Check out more information on how to plant tomatoes at http://www.howtoplanttomatoes.com