Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Save Money By Starting Your Tomatoes From Seed - It's Easy!

I am so excited!  That precious moment that I look forward to each year has arrived.  I have tomato seedlings sprouting! 

Starting Seeds Couldn't Be Easier!

Several weeks ago I planted my saved seeds from our last garden. 

1) I used organic potting soil to fill up my peat pots.  For my tomatoes I like to use the medium sized pots.  I think this allows the root system to grow and the plants to get larger at a faster rate.  In the past, I've used the smaller pots  and the plants seemed stunted even though I'd planted them 8 weeks  prior to transplanting to the garden.

2) I planted 4 tomato seeds in each pot.  This amount is probably over-kill but I'm always anxious that the seeds  might not germinate.  The germination rate of my saved seeds seems to be 90% to 95%.
3) Then I put the pots in a warm location  (my kitchen) to germinate.   I made sure to give them a gentle watering each day, just enough to keep the soil damp.
4) Once the seedlings pop through the soil, I move them to a sunnier location in my house.
5) I will continue to keep the soil damp and make sure my babies get plenty of sun over the next 6 to 8 weeks.  I've planted 40 pots with 4 seeds each.  When the seedlings have finished emerging, I will watch them for a few days and thin them down
to the strongest in each pot.  

To see the thinning process read Thinning Tomato Seedlings

A Time To Plant

It's important to keep in mind that while tomatoes need a long growing season, they will not set fruit when night time temperatures are below 60 degrees F or above 75 degrees F.  This a very compelling reason to time the planting and transplanting just right for your zone. 

If you wait too long to get your plants out into the garden, you may not have your tomatoes fruiting until nearly fall. 

How Much Should You Plant?

Since we consume a lot of tomatoes, I plant at least 5 plants per adult (or larger child) and 3 plants per smaller child.   If you plan on canning tomatoes, as we do, I would recommend nothing less than these amounts.  Adjust these amounts based on your family's personal preference.

What Type of Seeds Should You Plant?

You can purchase hybrid seeds but I strongly suggest you purchase heirloom seeds.  Heirloom seeds are usually no more expensive than the hybrid varieties but they will save you money in the long run.  You can save your heirloom seeds from some of your harvest and use them to plant your garden for FREE next year!

You can find heirloom seeds and starting supplies
at the following sources ~

15 Pack 3-Inch Round Peat Pots (Bonus Pack) # FR312B

Jiffy 5444 4-Inch Seed Start Pots, 6-Count

Ferry Morse Heirloom Tomato Collection

Black Krim Tomato 30 Seeds - Russian Heirloom

Beefsteak Tomato Heirloom Certified Organic Seeds


  1. LOVE this post! I always want to grow tomatoes and then get intimidated, ridiculous as it sounds. I can't wait to try it now ~ thanks!

    1. You really should give it a try, I promise you it's very easy! Good luck to you!

  2. Wow, you are highly motivated and are a couple months ahead of me but then I am often late. I am going to plant some early and also plant some seed directly in the ground for a late crop. Last year I planted late and had both beans and tomatoes long after most gardens had finished and was able to sell them to markets fairly easy.

    1. It's funny because we often have volunteer tomatoes come up that give us a late crop. It's usually my big source of green tomatoes for relish, etc. I'm sure you were able to sell to markets at a premium! I haven't ventured down that road but someday hope to sell to local markets and restaurants. Exciting stuff, Sunnybrook! Thanks!

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  4. Tomatoes and eggplant take so long to germinate. I have them under some shop lights and with aluminum foil to reflect back the light. They were in 2 liter terrariums for a while. I'd say the temps were 70F during the time the lights were on. They might have come up sooner though if I didn't bury them so deep! ;) Exploratory digging found that a number did sprout and we working at it. A few of them are now up. 2 of 5 corn have come up. Im still working on that Okra!!

    1. I've all but given up on eggplant. Honestly, it never seems that I start them in time! Okra does very well here just planting the seeds directly into the garden. So are you just using shop lights as grow lights? I'm using my window but feel the plants could use more light. Thanks for stopping by! You seem to have very similar interests so I was glad to find you.

    2. I've 'reallocated' the shop light from over the washer for growing purposes. Lol. Was the cheapest option I thought. The eggplants havent had a high germination rate. At least yet. They take weeks to do so apparently. Ive gotten between the two cups 4-5 plants out of the 10 in there.

      I have one seed flat in the basement bathroom that gets south light, although it has a lamp on it as well. Not as strong as the shop light. The high lumen CFL bought the other day burned out. Have to replace it.

      They enjoyed it the last few days when I got the chance to take all the seed cups and flat into the Sun room.

      Side note : I'm having so far good luck with the few 'experimental' plants transplanted to the garden. Two garlics and one onion. I placed a 3-4 inch kale plant out there yesterday and it appears to be fine as well. They are bundled up in their little terrariums.

    3. I must sound dense (I am sometimes) but are you using a special "grow bulb"? I was always under the impression that you had to use special "grow bulbs" in a "grow lamp".

      Hmmmmm.....perhaps I should pay better attention! Thanks for clarifying for me.


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