Time to Start the Seeds



Four months from now, I am hoping my Rutgers heirloom tomatoes look like this 2015 picture.  But first I need to plant those baby seeds in some nice, warm potting soil, set them in a sunny window, and hope they sprout.



1.  Last summer I saved a ripe tomato, smeared some of the pulp with seeds on newspaper, and let it dry.  After drying I rolled the newspaper sheet up,  labeled it and stored it in a dry, cool place.  Rutgers is an heirloom tomato which means the seeds will produce the same variety when planted.  Hybrid seeds will not reproduce the same tomato as they are a cross of more than one variety.



  2.  Look for a seed starter kit that includes the peat pots, tray, and lid.  It contains everything you need to germinate seeds.  



3.  The instructions say to pour 7 cups of warm water into the tray.  The water expands the peat from disks into pots.  After about 15 minutes, they are fully saturated and swollen.  I pulled the fiber around the top of the pots away slightly and used a pencil to ruffle the soil.  Scrape seeds from the paper and plant about 4 seeds per pot, lightly covering them with soil.

4.  Place the clear plastic lid on the tray and set in a sunny window.  The wet peat moss inside the container will create a moist, greenhouse-like environment for the seeds to germinate.   After the seeds begin to sprout, rotate the tray in the window once a week to expose all sides to the sun in order for the shoots to grow straight.  Add water as needed to keep pots moist.

5.  When the seedlings are about 2 inches high, snip all  sprouts but the strongest in each pot.  When seedlings outgrow the lid, remove it.  When the lid is removed, the pots will dry out faster; check them for moistness more often.

6.  The end of April, the plants should be about 8 inches tall.  I begin hardening off the seedlings by moving them outdoors in a sheltered area away from direct sun.  The potting bench on our back porch is ideal.  Bring them inside if evenings are too cool.  After about 2 weeks, I move them to direct sun.  By Mothers’ Day, after the soil warms up, they should be ready to plant directly in the garden.  The fiber covering the pots is biodegradable; the whole pot can be planted.

This will be the second season I have planted my Rutgers tomatoes from their own seed.  I love the fact that they re-produce themselves–endless tomatoes, forever!



About Sharon L. Clemens

Sharon and husband Merle and their children owned and operated a specialty shop and restaurant in a restored dairy barn for thirteen years in a village in Illinois. After closing their restaurant, they converted the barn into the family home and moved their shop to the garden level. They operated a collectable shop as a home-based business for another thirteen years before retiring to the country life. Sharon has been a special feature guest on the local NBC telelvision affiliate and has spoken professionally on topics relating to herb gardening and cottage lifestyle. In addition to conducting workshops and programs, Sharon writes a weekly cottage lifestyle e-newsletter called “Cottage Chat” and a Word Press blog: Seasons of Farm Grove. She has written five novels, The Younger Girl, Door County Cottage, Timeless-A Door County Love Story, Door County Cabin and Door County Escape, love stories with traditional values set in Door County, Wisconsin.
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