Growing Tomatoes - "Our Method":
First, you need to soak your seeds, which helps the germination process speed up (old school)...here's what to do.... Pour about a 1/2 an inch of room temperature water that is either "distilled" or, you can use "boiled water" that has been cooled... we use boiled water, why complicate things? I...
Ideal length of germinated seed for placing in soil, however sometimes not all the seed is sprouting as fast as some. You may have to wait a few more days for slower germinated seeds to catch up to the longer ones. Means you have to plant the longer ones deeper to cover them.
Easy no mess... Costco box put into a garbage bag and then pour soil in it... then add water if soil is too dry.
As you can see, I cut the milk gallons horizontally just below the level of the handle all the way around leaving about an inch an a half attached so that I can fold over the top part to later fold back over loosely. Note: You will not use the handle but carry the whole thing by supporting the gal...
Everything ready to plant... I now use a "Garden Marker" instead of a Sharpie and actually label the outside of the jug with the tomato variety name instead of using stick labels... makes life so much easier.
You need a "Garden Marker" for outdoor UV protection to be able to keep reading your label. UV will eat the ink off from a "Sharpie" and after a few months, you won't be able to read your labels. Get at specialized garden centers.
I then spray the soil lightly after I cover the seeds to ensure the top has enough moisture as this top layer will dry faster then the rest.
As you can see, I want the top to be slightly askew so that the air will flow through the middle as well as through the top.
Keep cover cap off for circulation of air... It will take another 2 or 3 days to come out of the soil. They sprout fast, and once they are about an inch and a half, put them on the window sill, south facing.
Here is Day 3, time to put them out in the light on the window sill. Keep top part on always and just slightly askew to let airflow as well as open at the very top. Your tomatoes will love you for this little greenhouse and you will see them happily grow daily. You will see the little seed cover s...
Oh, look at these beauties.... this is now Day 4 from sowing the sprouts. It is the second day on the window sill. These are the first set of leaves that will later be removed which I will show you later. When they get a little stringy like this (called stretching), you will have to soon delicate...
Seedlings about 8 days of sprouting, ready to re-transplant for 2nd time. Select your best 3 seedlings for transplanting.
Here you will notice, half way down the stems turning a slight pinky-purple hue and already thickening at this stage... this is a good time to re-transplant for the stems to be almost totally covered.
Mix and fill your gallon a lot higher almost to rip... so you can accommodate the depth of your seedlings (compare this picture to previous ones, you will see soil level much shallower before). You have to handle the new seedlings delicately as they can damage and snap so easily. You basically plu...
Adding more soil and remixing it with existing soil to make the soil level dipper for re-transplanting the stronger seedlings to become less in their container for more room to grow the plants on their second stage of growth.
I plant the best 3 seedlings of each variety in each milk gallon for lots of growing room from the 6 seeds I germinated.
Made hole full length of the seedling with my finger, leaving about a half inch stick out, then lightly dropped them in.
Here we have the 3 seedlings as you can see, with most of the stem buried. Need to bury the stem like this or you will have the chance of them dampening off (rotting and dying basically). Otherwise, the seedlings will keep stretching and you don't want that to happen.
I use a wide pump syringe to give them water at their base after transplanting, using previously boiled water that has been cooled.
Here they are re-planted, watered and ready to fold over the hinged top again. Remember to leave the top askew as to keep air flow and place back on the window sill turning the gallon a 180 degree turn ever 2 days.
This is 7 days after transplanting the seedlings deeper. You can now see the second leaves and the seedlings have now grown to about 4 times their size.
The "Heiloom" tomatoes growing in their milk jugs... you can see how effective this little greenhouse is and really promotes their growth. Will be hardening them off soon in a few days.
Showing pinched off first leaves (cotelydon leaves). The first leaves are pinched off when the second set of leaves are strong and a good size around 6 weeks after sprouting. If you pinch the tomato plant too early, you risk losing the plant. Next picture will show at what stage to pinch off...
Here we share, after many years of research and experimentation, the easiest and most sucessful way of growing "Heirloom Tomatoes" on our farm. The tomatoes grown by our method, proved time and time again to be the best, least problematic and stongest in seedling growth to maturity.
A good balance in soil and the right environmental conditions will yield great crops. We will gradually add to our album, step by step pictures in the stages of growth until we finally plant the tomato in our greenhouses.
We hope this will help with your next gardening adventure. Visit our "About Us/Info." in the categories above for more information on what other variables affect tomato crop outcome.