Many people start to feel the desire to get things growing again when the snow has melted and the sun is shining. However, although it is still a bit too early to plant anything outside, it is a great time to get a head start on plants like tomatoes.
The first thing to do is to determine the last frost date for the area that you live in. You can check that out here: Canada Hardiness Zones.
Tomatoes shouldn’t be planted outside until two weeks following the last frost date. So in order to give them a good headstart, but not too much of one, you want to plant the seeds inside about 6-8 weeks before then.
There are two different types of tomato plants: determinate and indeterminate. It’s a good idea to choose a kind of tomato that is suited to where you want to grow it. Are you going to grow it in a pot on your patio (determinate), or somewhere that you can tie it up to a post or fence (indeterminate).
Determinates are bush type plants that you can easily grow in a pot with a tomato cage or stake. They stop growing when the top blossoms set into fruit and the fruit tends to all ripen together which is great if you want to do canning or make a lot of salsa. Examples of this kind of tomato are regular slicing and roma.
Indeterminates keep growing all season, and need to be supported as they will grow six feet or taller. They tend to be blooming, setting fruit, and ripening fruit all at the same time which is great if you want to be able to pick a few every day or so for dinner. Examples of this kind are cherry tomatoes or beefsteak.
Once you have decided what kind of tomato plant you want to grow, find:
- some small pots (yogurt containers with a hole poked in the bottom)
- potting soil (dampen it with a bit of water first)
- popsicle sticks (write the kind of tomato on it and put it down the side of your pot)
Plant three seeds in each pot and cover with about 1/4″ of soil and pat it down. Water them and if you want cover the pots with a bit of plastic wrap to keep them from drying out while the seed is germinating. Set them in a sunny window and wait – it takes about 5-10 days for the seeds to sprout. Cut out the smaller plants when they have grown for a while so that you only have one plant to a pot. Keep them watered and turn them every day so that they don’t grow lopsided. When they get a couple inches high, transplant them into a bigger, deeper pot, letting the soil cover some of the stem (they grow roots out of their stems which help to anchor them).
Write the date at the top of a page and draw the tomato seeds you are planting. Keep checking the pots every day and draw them as they sprout and grow.