A Black Thumb’s Guide to Growing Tomatoes Part 1 – Planting from Seeds
Success! My tomato plants have finally proven fruitful (Literally!). I have just successfully planted, germinated, and produced my first fruit babies – tomatoes. I am so looking forward to eating them, and I have been dying to share the ‘how to’ with you!
This week I’ve had a heck load going on – I was sick, it was my mum’s birthday (hi Mum!) and I’ve been prepping for a busy weekend, so it’s good to finally get it done!
This is the second time I have done a three part series of posts, how exciting!
I have broken the process of growing these babies into three steps –
- Planting the Seeds (this post)
- Repotting the Seedlings (next week’s post)
- The Final Transplant – Moving your babies outside (the grand finale in a fortnight’s time)
I have had this series of posts in the works for a while now…months and months actually! That’s how long it has taken me to nurture and grow successful tomato plants from seeds. You can tell because it was before I changed the settings on my camera to the ones I have used in my most recent posts!
It began back in March as a science experiment with my Grade 4 class. Unfortunately the kids investigations weren’t so successful (something to do with a torrential downpour of rain in the early days!), however I decided a re-trial would be interesting, and decided to do it on a personal level at my house.
If you have ever thought of becoming a little more self-sustainable, then I strongly recommend growing some of your own plants. The feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment you get when you can finally pull that fruit off the stalk is simply gratifying! It’s easier than you think, and even if you don’t have too much of a green thumb (I have personally killed several succulents, the ‘unkillable’ plants) I urge you to give it a go.
Growing Tomatoes From Seeds – Planting the seeds
To start you will need:
An Egg Carton
Tomato Seeds (any type will do – I used ones similar to these)
Decent soil (doesn’t have to be too expensive, something like this will do the trick)
Toothpicks and possibly skewers (wooden ones will do)
Fill each egg carton section with soil. Place two seeds in each section, burying within the first 1/4 inch of soil. It is best to make sure the soil is damp before you plant the seeds, so that it doesn’t get too compacted by you watering it.
Place your egg carton in your baking tray inside your house or shed in a sunny spot. The baking tray is to catch any water that may run through the egg carton. I found a windowsill in my house that was the perfect depth and position! Tomato seeds NEED warmth to germinate.
The seedlings will start to appear after about a week – though they sometimes can take up to two weeks to appear.
You’ll need to keep a close eye on them and rotate the carton every day or so, as they tend to lean towards the source of warmth.
Now comes the strange bit – as I said, tomato seedlings don’t need direct sunlight just yet, but they LOVE warmth. So with that cling wrap and those skewers and toothpicks that you got together you’re going to make a little mini-greenhouse just like this one:
Isn’t it cute? If you’re a bit less frugal than me, you can fork out the extra dosh for a real life one like this. You will need to readjust your ‘greenhouse’ roof over this time to give the seedlings room to grow.
Over the course of the next two weeks you’ll need to ensure the seedlings stay damp – you want the soil to be moist but NOT wet. If you over-water the soil you can blot it up with some paper towel.
When the seedlings start to appear quite strong, you will need to select the strongest in each cup section, and snip away the rest at the base. This will give the strongest ones room to grow. If you’re like me, most of the cups only eventuated in one seed growing so you won’t have to worry too much about it.
Around day 10 you will see another set of leaves appear – these are the ‘true’ leaves, and the seedling leaves may eventually wither and die. Don’t panic! This is perfectly normal, as the seedling leaves have finished their job of providing nutrients to the baby plant.
Once you are down to one plant per cup and they are nice and strong, their true leaves are nice and big, you can start to water them with a water bottle. A few dribbles per cup and they’ll be happy little chappies!
And that’s it! That’s the first part done. You can let them stay for another week or so before moving onto Step 2 – Repotting the Seedlings which I will feature next week.