tomato seeds

Need to know the best time to plant?

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Compo
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tomato seeds

Postby Compo » Sun Mar 19, 2006 9:32 pm

Is it too late to sew tomato seeds, I have an unheated greenhouse and an elec propagator in my potting shed. Any advice please?
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Postby Tigger » Sun Mar 19, 2006 9:38 pm

No - it's not too late, particularly this year as it's been so cold. I lost all of my first attempt, which is unheard of, and have resown today into propogators.

If you look at some of the other threads/postings, the trick is to move seedlings out of the propogators as soon as they emerge, so they don't become week and leggy.
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Postby Compo » Sun Mar 19, 2006 9:48 pm

Thanks so you recommend the heated propagator as opposed to the greenhouse? Our of interest I have just put carrots and parsnip seeds in the ground at my allotment (somerset) and am currently picking spring cabbage, sprouts and early purple sprouting. Not bad for someone who only got a plot in May last year. This forum is a boon and I look forward to whiling away many hours in here!
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Postby Tigger » Sun Mar 19, 2006 9:57 pm

Ah - now you've unearthed another can of worms. I always put toms, peppers, cucumbers, aubergines into the propogator and usually have great success - except this year when I've had nothing emerge. As all the seed can't be faulty, it must be the ambient temperature around the propogators, so I've moved them (today) and resown. That's a first in many years.

You'll find on the forum an ongoing discussion about propogators and the need to use them or otherwise, so just to be sure, I've also gone back to my old way of sowing - putting them under glass in the house.

Very scientific - I'll let you know the results.
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Postby Jude » Sun Mar 19, 2006 10:33 pm

I was going to sow my tomatoes today, thinking that I was probably a bit late, I've only done 'gardeners delight' before and usually had them going about now, ready for growbags in the garden later.
Having been a bit disappointed with them the past two years I thought I'd try bush toms on the allotment instead and bought 'red alert' from Marshalls. When I read the packet it said April onwards but I thought I might try a few anyway, but on opening the packet found there were only a dozen or so seeds in it.......not impressed!
Will save them for later and go and buy something else from Aldi on Thursday!
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Tigger
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Postby Tigger » Sun Mar 19, 2006 10:38 pm

I've had that sort of a day too - lots of Tigerella and Marmande in the packets, few Supersteak, Incas and Sweet Millions.
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Postby Chantal » Mon Mar 20, 2006 3:51 am

Buy from Seeds of Italy http://www.seedsofitaly.sagenet.co.uk/tomato.htm the minimum number of tomato seeds you get from them is 60 and some varieties you can get 600!
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Postby Carole B. » Mon Mar 20, 2006 3:07 pm

I'll agree with that Chantal,I bought from Seeds of Italy for the first time this year and the amount of seed in each packet was suprisingly large,is this another case of u.k.companies hiking up prices?How come the Italians can get more seed for similar money?
Anyway back to the toms,I have not yet sown my toms for outdoors,I'll probably do it next week.They will go in the propagator till they're up and then grow on in the greenhouse till they are big enough to harden off and plant out around the first week in June down here in the softie south,so yes,there's still time.
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Postby Allan » Mon Mar 20, 2006 3:29 pm

I am going to sow my earliest batch of tomato seeds any day now. The main batch can still wait. Rather that than leggy things I had last year, I've never had to bury such long stems before.
The latin phrase is Festinas lente.
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Tomatoes!

Postby LakeView » Mon Mar 20, 2006 7:58 pm

I've just sown my tomato seeds for the season (for those who are new or can't remember, I grow them for sale to passersby and villagers along with lots of other veg and bedding). All are in 60-cell modules (the size of a regular seed tray; module trays from a nearby nursery at 10p each!) and either in a propagator or on heating cables (homemade propagation area).
30 Moneymaker
30 Alicante
30 Ailsa Craig
30 Tigerella
23 Orlov Yellow (low acid for a special customer)
36 Big Boy
30 Red Pear
13 Yellow Pear
17 Golden Peardrop
22 Outdoor Girl
21 The Amateur
17 F2 Shirley
60 Garden Pearl (for the children at a nearby village Fete)
42 Sun Gold
18 Lemon Boy
30 Roma (plum)
30 San Marzano (also a plum)
60 Gardener's Delight
36 F1 Sweet Million
24 Tumbling Tom Yellow
24 Brandywine
18 Golden Sunrise
18 Aunt Ginny's Purple
41 Tumbler
19 Marmande.

Yes, that's 12 trays of 60... =720. Yes, I am crazy, and I will be complaining in 5 weeks when there's not enough room in my 8x10 greenhouse for those and all the other bedding and veg (squashes Buttercup, butternut, Turk's Turban etc). I really am a glutton for punishment. And I am one week earlier than last year so I am confident that there's plenty of time for sowing tomato seeds in March. We had frost in S Oxon until 6th June last year (do you know how hard it is to cover hundreds of plants for that long!?)

Yes, as soon as they germinate, I take them off the bottom heat, but they stay in a heated greenhouse (electric Hot Box heater; second one in four years... but that's another story).

I put my plants out for sale on Sunday in the sunshine, and sold my first £5.50 before I even had the time to put the prices on! Those were sweet peas and perennials. Peas and broad beans will go out for sale next weekend. I also take them to work to sell to collagues, too.

It's going to be a busy season, as I have at least three trips to the States in as many months... time away from transplanting and sowing... let alone planting the allotment. Ah, but the fun has just begun!
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Postby pigletwillie » Mon Mar 20, 2006 9:41 pm

I am impressed Lake View, especially with the amount of varieties. I know where you are coming from with keeping them frost free, I have at the last count nearly 450 toms, 250 peppers/chillies, plus cucs, gherkins, courgette, squash etc. Then there are the flowers. We use any spare space on the plots for cut flowers and companion planting so have calendula, rudbekia, nicotiana, echinacea, stocks, statice, cornflower, cosmos etc.

I have tossed the onions outside along with the cabbage to try to make room in my 10x6 greenhouse. I hope to have a cover on my polytunnel by the first week of April and then the flowers can go in there with a fleece cover as extra protection.

With regards to sowing tomatoes and indeed peppers/chillies, I sow them in 3 inch pots and put the pots in a tray on the draining board in the kitchen. The window is north facing. The homestead is heated to 21 ish degrees during the evening and morning, unless we fire up the fireplace when it can go up to 25. Once the seedlings stick their noses up and are about an inch tall they go into the greenhouse which is heated to around 12 degrees. They are pricked out into 2 inch pots whilst small to avoid root damage and are then potted on into 3 inch pots when the roots show through the bottom. I have never had leggy tomatoes, probably because I dont use a propogator.

With regards the size of seed packets, I concur that the seeds of Italy packets are generous, but if you go over to France, pop into a Garden centre and stock up as their packets are not only more generous but far cheaper as well.

Here is a San Marzano potted up last week, Nice and stocky.

Image
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Postby Tigger » Mon Mar 20, 2006 11:31 pm

I recognise that plant Piglet - it's one of my adoptees!

I'm going to resist listing which tomatoes I've sown until they're up and growing. The flowers are well underway and like most of you - I'll have more than I know what to do with so I'll give them away to colleagues and friends and take some to work for the horticultural group to grow on. I think I must have provided the summer planting for over a hundred gardens last year. Only a few of my colleagues grow fruit and veg, but they're all happy to have my surplus produce. I usually take stocks in on Fridays as some of them are too lazy to cook during the week.

Last year I grew plum and cherry tomatoes from seed that I bought in Italy. Very cheap and easy to grow in a tunnel here because they're bred especially for tunnel growing in Sicilly, so I found they needed a lot less water than the English varieties.
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Postby tony s » Tue Mar 21, 2006 9:26 pm

The best time to sow really does depend on the conditions you have for the little plants once they have germinated. I would be nervous about having tomatoes in a cold greenhouse before May, as there are usually frosts in April. Even if it does not freeze inside it is going to be close and do them no favours. I used to rely on windowsills but they get leggy very easily and there is only so much room. Now I start them off in a electric propator at home and they usually come through in four days. Then I grow them on under a 600w growlamp in my spare room. Last year I sowed on 2nd April and planted in my cold greenhouse on 10th May with the first truss flowering. I picked the first ripe tomatoes on 3rd July. This works for me, as they grow so quickly with the combination of warmth and light indoors. Without this kit, I would sow about now and keep them at home as long as possible, unless you can bring them in from the greenhouse on cold nights. That would not work for me as my greenhouses are down the allotment.
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AMAZING RESPONSE

Postby Compo » Tue Mar 21, 2006 9:41 pm

Well I am impressed with the response, I have decided to start my toms in an elec propagator in peat pots and as soon as they are showing keep them in my cold greenhouse bringing them in if there is a cold snap, seems like the common them from the varying advice is that they need heat to start but then less intense steady warmth to stop them from dying off or getting frostbitten. I'll let you know the results. Just out of interest I have brought most of my seeds from kings this year, but can also recommend lidl (yellow french beans and herbs) and wilko for general stuff, such as peas carrotts etc. In the SW we have mole valley farmers who currently have large range of small veg plants, bulk beans and peas (about 1.50 for a half kilo) and onion sets very cheap. Their wellies are 4.50 a pair essential for any allotment.

PS does anyone know a good chat room that replicates these topics??
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I wouldn't put them in a cold greenhouse

Postby Guest » Tue Mar 21, 2006 11:28 pm

I wouldn't put them in a cold greenhouse. I put mine out the other night and many of them curled up their toes and I had 2 paraffin heaters working, keeping it above 10 degrees. I've brought them back in again.I think we've got lured into sowing too early by mild winters and this one is going on a bit. However as my mother keeps saying -'It's a normal winter.' Did anyone hear the report that this time last year we were getting temperatures of 20 degrees? Jane E
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