GUELPH-WELLINGTON
MASTER GARDENERS

 


VEGETABLES


Starting Tomato Seeds


How soon can I plant tomato seeds indoors under a grow light and how many  hours of light do they need?


Answer: There is nothing better than to pick a ripe tomato from your own garden. Tomatoes from seed need to be started at least 6 to 8 weeks before your last frost date. By that time the soil will be warmed up enough to transplant the seedlings outside. Sow seeds in moistened soil that is labelled for seedlings. If possible give the container bottom heat to begin the germination. Follow the instructions on the seed packet as to seed depth. Place a plastic covering over them.


With the first sign of the cotyledon pushing through the soil, remove the cover and move to your growing lights. Place your seedlings about 2 cm (1 in) below the light and lower them as the plants begin to grow taller. They will require 16 hours of light during the day for the best results. Keep the temperature cool so that they will not grow too quickly and become spindly. As the plants develop you can replant them in a larger container. A couple of weeks before planting make sure you take the seedlings outside in a sheltered place to begin to harden them off (exposing them to the outside). Keep them out of the wind and harsh hot sun.













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