Saturday, 20 March 2010

When To Sow Tomato Seed

My urge to start sowing tomato seed begins in January but knowing It's best to sow about eight to ten weeks before the last frost in my area (end of  May to be safe) means that I should wait until around the end of March.

Of course I can't wait that long and already the porch and kitchen are full of tomato seedlings and there are more germinating in the airing cupboard upstairs!

The difficulty with growing tomatoes from seed is that there is only a small window of opportunity - too early and the plants won't get enough light etc., too late and the season has come to an end because of cold temperatures before the fruit matures.

It takes around two months from seed to flower, and about the same from flower to fruit - a total of four months.

This growing time can be shortened with cherry varieties that mature early such as Red Alert and Tumbler. They not only mature early but they are more likely to ripen in a poor summer, in part, because smaller plants and tomatoes have less growing to do.

If you would like to sign up the the free Tomato Growing Newsletter for lots of tips and free advice.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Tomato Plug Plants

It's always a good feeling to sow a seed and watch it grow into a full size plant then eat its fruit ... very satisfying!

However, there are times when plug plants, or pot ready plants are extremely handy and fill an important role.

Here are just a few reasons why plug plants are helpful and avoid the following problems ...
  • Poor germination rates - Hybrid F1 seed is expensive!
  • Damping off - when seedlings are attacked shortly after germination by fungi and die.
  • Seedlings that have been grown in poor light conditions - without additional light - can become leggy.
Another advantage is that they are great for those who are new to growing tomatoes and will get you off to a great start without the above problems. Also, if you are planting in late Spring, you will still get ripe fruit before the season ends.

There are the disadvantages of not knowing the seed source, and also, not having as wide a choice as with seeds, but on balance, tomato plug plants are a great benefit for the tomato grower.

Plug plants are available by post directly from the nursery of Plants by Post of Nottingham UK, so why not get the season off to an early start - and an early crop of the tastiest tomatoes.