Wednesday 3 April 2013

Sowing Tomato seeds

I have finally sowed some tomato seeds. My blog reveals that last year I did this task on 10th March, and in 2011 I did it on 6th March, but here in 2013 I am doing it in April. To be honest, I have only sowed these seeds because I felt I ought to. The weather - and particularly the light  - conditions are still far from ideal, but I felt that if I left it any longer the plants would not have long enough to grow to maturity before the end of Summer. That's if we get any Summer this year...

As an indicator of how serious things are, let me tell you that I had to bring my bag of compost into the garage for filling the pots, because I think I would have died of hypothermia if I had done the task outside. And then I kept the pots in the house for 24 hours before sowing, to let the compost thaw out fully! Well the task is finally complete and I now have 30 recycled Elmlea pots each with two tomato seeds in it.

I always sow two seeds in each pot. If both germinate (they usually do) I pinch out the weakest after a few days.

This year I have sowed the following types:-
Maskotka (6 pots)
Ferline (5 pots)
Orkado (5 pots)
Cherokee Purple (2 pots)
Red Pear (2 pots)
San Marzano (2 pots)
Sungold (2 pots)
Tigerella (2 pots)
Zapotec Ribbed (2 pots)
Black Russian (1 pot)
Sungella (1 pot)

I'm particularly keen to see how the Red Pear ones do. These Franchi seeds were kindly provided for me by Roy Walters of Pushing Up Dandelions, in conjunction with Paolo from Seeds of Italy.

Another variety new to me is the Zapotec Ribbed, which I bought from Victoriana Nursery with the voucher I won in the UK Veg Gardeners' photo competition (kindly sponsored by Stephen Shirley). It is, as the name suggests, a variety that produces deeply-ribbed red fruits - the complete antithesis of the uniformly spherical "supermarket" tomato. Should be good!

Rather than keep the tomato seed-pots on the windowsill, where it would still be quite cold, I have put them in a couple of seed-trays inside large plastic bags, and placed them close to my Grow Light House, where I hope they will benefit from at least a little extra warmth. The plastic bags will promote greater humidity, and prevent draughts. When the tomato seeds germinate I'll shuffle everything round so that most of them get a place directly under the lights.

I know I won't be able to find space to grow 30 tomato plants, but with this many to choose from I should be able to get some decent specimens. I expect I will end up growing about 15 or 16 plants. We'll see...


  1. I'm glad it's not just me that hasn't planted anything much Mark! I held off becuase of the snow on the ground for weeks and also didn't sow indoors because of the poor light quality - I got caught out with that one a couple of years ago :-(
    I have got as far as chitting potatoes and washing out last years seed trays and pots, but that's it so far...but I do plan to plant this week, honest!

  2. We will have to start sowing too but yesterday the tube went in our grow light - we bought another but it still isn't working so Martyn has ordered another kit - we may end up with two set ups if we can get the first working again!

  3. Interesting types of tomatoes! Some I have never heard of! Looking forward to see how things go!

  4. I sowed a few of my Winner Kohlrabis today. I hadn't before because the seeds were back ordered. I so hate back ordered seeds. You never know if they will show up in time.

    1. I agree. "On back order" means "we pretended to have this item, but it is not actually available. If lots of people order this product we might condescend to get some in from our suppliers..."

  5. Some interesting varieties there, some of which I haven't heard of before. Thank you for the Maskotka recommendation, they sound like what I'm after. We just need some warmer weather now so that our plants grow well without becoming leggy, though you'll have that problem solved with your grow lights.

  6. 30! That's amazing! I'm doing my favourite variety - sugar plum - this weekend. I normally just grow those but this year I also sowed some Shirley and Black Russians. They're still sat on my top floor windowsill, far too cold out there!!!

  7. Quite upset here mark today! I had some cherry tomatoe seedlings in a propagator forthe last few weeks. I popped them outside in the sunshine today and the propagator lid blew off, the wind got up and snapped a few and the others also look you think they'll survive or is it best just to start again? Any advice welcome :)


    1. If it were me, I'd start again. After all, I only sowed my tomato seeds last weekend, so all is not lost. Having said that, tomato plants are quite resilient, so those that are not snapped off may recover. Keep them and see what happens, but sow some more to be on the safe side.

  8. Good plan mark, its what I was thinking too as I have plenty of spare pots. Thanks again

  9. In your long list, i only have tigerella which i will sow it soon this weekend. Never seen ppl sow so much tomato varities like this. So impressive. One day i hope to have more varities of tomato seeds like you do. Good luck!

  10. I hope the weather does a quick turn around for you just in time to get the tomatoes outside! I too just sowed all my tomatoes and eggplant today and got a start on the peppers. 10 varieties of tomatoes, 4 varieties of eggplants, and... 10 of the 24 (maybe more) planned varieties of peppers. I'm pretty much right on schedule though.

  11. That's a lot of tomato varieties I'm not familiar with (with a couple of exceptions) I hope they do well.

  12. Great minds think alike Mark - I sowed a batch of tomatoes yesterday too - the first lot perished in the greenhouse sadly. Mother Nature has a lot to answer for this year.

  13. Great to find someone else who grows a lot of tomatoes. Mine are all tucked up in the spare room, hoping for a decent summer! Looking forward to seeing the progress of your more unusual varieties.

  14. Like you I left my tomato sowing until April.Last year I started in early March and due to the poor weather ended up with masses of leggy plants.
    Once bitten twice shy.


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