Applications: orchard. patio. outdoor. balcony
1) Prepare for planting. Sprout seeds in small containers, preferably 4" or smaller. In-ground germination is not recommended. Use a standard potting mix that is well drained. Start seeds in containers approximately 8 weeks prior to the planned set-out date. Plants should ultimately be transplanted to the garden 1-2 weeks after the expected date of last frost.
2) Plant seeds. Plant seeds 1/4" deep in the soil. Cover with soil and water carefully. Overwatering can cause fungal growth which leads to seed rot. Excess water can also bury seeds deep in the soil where they will not be able break the surface. Water when the soil surface just begins to dry. Multiple seeds can be planted in a single starter container, but should be thinned once seedlings appear so only a single plant remains. Seeds do not require light for germination but some light source should be provided for seedlings once they emerge from the soil.
3) Germination. Soil should be kept consistently warm, from 70-85F. Cool soils, below about 60-65F, even just at night, will significantly delay or inhibit germination. Hot soils above 95F will also inhibit germination.
4) Care of seedlings. Once a few true leaves have developed, seedlings should be slowly moved outside (if sprouted indoors) to ambient light. Care should be taken not to expose seedlings to direct, scorching sun so plants may need to be hardened off via slow sun exposure. Hardening off can be done using a shaded or filtered light location, as well as protection from strong winds, rain or low humidity. Hardening off time varies, but can take 5-10 days.
5) Planting out. Plant in the ground once danger of frost has past and daytime temperatures consistently reach 65F. Plants can be spaced as close as 24" apart.
Germination time: 1-3 weeks under ideal conditions.
Vegetable Seed Saving: Allow tomatoes to over-ripen on plants; then collect seeds. Let seeds ferment in the tomato. Clean and dry the seeds before storage in cool dry conditions