We usually plant our tomatoes on Memorial Day weekend, so counting six weeks back, it's time to start the seeds. I haven't wanted to bother the last few years with starting seeds indoors, but when I decided to save seeds from last year's tomatoes, I was committed to giving it a try. Margaret Roach on AWayToGarden.com has a good seed starting basics that I found to be incredibly helpful.
I wanted to do this as simply as possible, so I purchased a self-watering tray with insulated individual cells. It was $20, but it can be used for several years. I saw some similar kits with heat mats on Amazon and I wondered, Do I need a heat mat?, but then I read somewhere that tomato plants will be leggy if they grow too fast, so best not to use one. We want short, stout tomato plants that are about four inches tall when it's time to plant.
I also purchased some seeding mix ($5). According to Margaret, you don't want to use regular soil, but a fresh, sterile medium that contains things like moss, peat, vermiculite and/or perlite. She also recommended putting 2 seeds in each cell, and then cutting one once the first set of true leaves emerges, if both do in fact germinate.
Sharon's Grandfather's (not an official name- actually my friend Sharon's grandfather's tomatoes)
And, here they are. For the moment, they're on the windowsill. This weekend I will fashion some sort of a grow light contraption, because once the seedlings emerge, they're going to need more light than they can get here. I'll let you know how that goes.
If this whole seed-starting project is a flop, I do have an insurance policy. Thanks to a very thoughtful and generous gift, I have ordered six tomato plants to be mailed to me from seedsaversexchange.org:
Brandywine (Sudduth's Strain)
I also ordered some peppers while I was there- Tolli's Sweet Italian, Jimmy Nardello's, and Ancho Giganta.
If my seed starting is really successful, I will give away some of the plants I grow. Either way, I think we're going to need to start digging that second garden. I may have gotten carried away...