|Notice that the one at Left Rear has only one seedling, but others have two|
They don't usually all germinate, so this reduces the number straight away. If both seeds do germinate, the stronger seedling is selected, and the other is discarded. So let's say I now have 36 seedlings. At around this time they get transferred to bigger pots (this is called "potting on"). I did this task a couple of days ago.
|Tomato plants now in 5" pots|
In this photo you can see the difference in size of the pots - 3" in the foreground, 5" behind.
So now I have 36 good seedlings, which hopefully will survive the shock of transplanting and go on to establish themselves strongly in the fresh compost. Immediately after transplanting, they do tend to droop a bit, so I put them in the shade for a few hours until they have perked up.
For the next few days, these plants will be kept overnight in my big coldframe and brought out into the fresh air each morning, so that they gradually become accustomed to living outdoors. This process is called "hardening-off".
If as forecast we get a spell of decent weather now, these plants will probably grow rapidly, and will be ready for potting-on again, into their final containers, in mid- to late-May. At that point, I will select the best plant of each type once again. The others will be retained for a while, until I'm sure that the "A-team" ones have settled in OK, then they will probably be given away.
This year I will be growing 12 tomato plants in 35-litre black plastic containers, like these:
They will mostly be big plants, grown as cordons, but this time there will also be some dwarf varieties whose seeds I was generously given by the renowned Craig LeHoullier, from the USA.
I also plan to grow 4 plants of the trailing bush variety "Maskotka" in plastic boxes inside my tall wooden planter, in the same way as I did last year. It is a method that worked very well.
The final 2 plants will also be bush-style plants - "Montello" - and they will go in containers like these, originally marketed as "balconnieres".
Just for the record, my 18 plants will be these:
Dwarf Beauty King
Dwarf Barossa Fest
Maskotka x 4
Montello x 2