When to start off Tomato seeds

Discussion in 'Edible Gardening' started by Sargan, Nov 15, 2020.

  1. Sargan

    Sargan Gardener

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    Usually buy my Tomato & Cucumber plants from Garden Centre, last year grew some from seed but low success rate.
    Want to start from seed again .. what is best time to start them indoors in heated propagators (& lights)
    Final plants will go into Quadgrows in unheated greenhouse around March.
     
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    • Spruce

      Spruce Glad to be back .....

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      I plant end of March early April
       
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      • Sargan

        Sargan Gardener

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        Would have thought to have plants ready to put in greenhouse then ... or am I aiming too early
         
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        • JWK

          JWK Gardener

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          March is too early to plant in an unheated greenhouse. Wait till the last frost, Depending on where you are it's usually mid-May.
           
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          • JWK

            JWK Gardener

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            I sow mine mid March under grow lamps. This year I planted in an unheated greenhouse on 17th May - first pickings were 11 June. I am in Surrey.
             
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            • Sargan

              Sargan Gardener

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              I am in South on the coast, the last frost for us is in Feb, but point taken.
              I'll not start too early.
               
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              • john558

                john558 Super Gardener

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                I start mine in a indoor grow house around the Third week in February, the light are on during the day, turned off at night. Works for me.
                 
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                • Scrungee

                  Scrungee Well known for it

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                  I'm posting these links to previous year's threads here so I can look back and check when I've previously sown mine (bit busy ATM).

                  My dates will be for sowing in heated propagators under lights for growing on, initially in a heated greenhouse (that has supplementary growlights) for a month or so, then unheated polytunnels when warm enough to grow on in there and/or in open ground.

                  I get frosts right up to and sometimes into June (I've had -3 Deg C). This year there was one in the middle of May that killed various plants and even destroyed the new leaves on 100's of trees.

                  Tomato Growing Thread 2012

                  2013 Tomato Growing

                  2014 Tomato Growing

                  2015 Tomato Growing

                  2016 Tomato Growing

                  2017 Tomato Growing

                  THE TOMATO GROWING THREAD 2018

                  The Tomato Growing Thread 2019

                  TOMATO GROWING THREAD 2020


                  EDIT: I've been back though all those threads, and decided upon middle of March for how I grow them. It could be earlier for planting into a heated greenhouse, or a bit later for planting out in exposed open ground.

                  But as the middle of March is when lots of campsites re-open, that may influence me to sow a little earlier or later.

                  Sowing under lights indoors means that when the growbox gets too crowded, I can then change to lights on 24/7 and swop stuff in and out in shifts under lights.

                  Then around mid April, when natural light levels are improving, I put the greenhouse heating on and start moving plants in there, and also start using mytmy other growlights in there.

                  I hope to have my greenhouse heating off by mid May, when I also start moving plants into unheated polytunnels, but carefully watching forecasts for cold nights.

                  Some plants go into polytunnel borders around that time, but I always have enough spares to replace them. Outdoor plants in open ground go out from 1st June, but I might have some in pots that can be brought back inside if required.
                   
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                    Last edited: Nov 16, 2020
                  • Sargan

                    Sargan Gardener

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                  • ricky101

                    ricky101 Total Gardener

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                    As you sound very eager to get them going, probably best to split your seeds into three batches and start them off a month apart.

                    Then depending on you local weather and temperatures you should have a good chance of getting some really early ones but if there is a really late cold snap your later sowings should still be of use.

                    Its also down to the amount of light they can get, otherwise you end up with leggy growth and few trussses, so early sowing indoors might benefit from some cheap led lighting.
                     
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                    • Upsydaisy

                      Upsydaisy Total Gardener

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                      I'm in the South ( near the coast)
                      too, but work to the LFD of first couple of weeks in April..... but can still get caught out.
                      I sow mine in March, in a cool unused bedroom , once germinated and growing well they have to toughen up in the unheated greenhouse ( bubble wrapped and with fleece on standby).:dbgrtmb:
                       
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                      • pete

                        pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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                        I dont really think working on the last frost date works to be honest.

                        Its more to do with actual night temperatures and light levels, and you can add to that daytime temperatures as well.

                        Long spells of grey cold weather can happen in spring, when temperatures of day and night vary very little.
                        I only grow toms outside and never sow until April.
                        If I was greenhouse growing I think first week in March would be my sowing time in order to get good strong plants, and thats with some heating.
                         
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                        • Sargan

                          Sargan Gardener

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                          Thanks for comments as per OP ... when I sow indoors I will use lights, but don't use them outdoors.
                          I'll aim for end of Feb/start of Mar sowing to give me plants hopefully for end for April. Myu Propagators in full production at moment having just sown Chill seeds.
                           
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                          • sandymac

                            sandymac Gardener

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                            i used to start my plants 14th Jan with heat and light in the conservatory, gradually potting up and eventually putting in greenhouse early may with a heater. I usually picked my first tom 19th/21st/ 23rd of May looking at my records.
                            This year i was away on holiday in February and did not start my toms until third week in February using the same method of heat and lights , this year i picked my first tom
                            17th May, i will be starting toms third week of Feb again this year
                            sandy
                             
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                            • Scrungee

                              Scrungee Well known for it

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                              I believe it's all about light, heat (they're a South American perennial) and space.

                              It's too dark and too cold without supplementary lighting and heating early on.

                              And there needs to be enough space to cope with ever increasing container sizes and space allowances around them to prevent them growing spindly. Seeds sown early March might require 200 times as much space by early June.

                              I have 4.5 x 0.7m of external staging outside my greenhouse, and I can get everything out there back inside by keeping them in plastic vegetable crates that can be quickly stacked inside my greenhouse overnight.

                              Having some crates with the bottoms cut out to use a raising pieces helps with taller plants. My crates are now full of kindling, but most will be empty by the time I need them for plants again.
                               
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                                Last edited: Nov 17, 2020
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