It's been a couple weeks now and my baby 'maters are doing rather well. Start a few seeds indoors every year to help get me warmed up for the upcoming garden season.
One advantage to starting your own seeds is that it allows for a much larger selection to choose from. This year I'm growing two varieties that I ordered from Burpee - 'Sweet Seedless' and 'Big Mama Paste'. I'm especially interested in the 'Sweet Seedless' variety. Their a new Burpee exclusive this year and Burpee claims there're the "Worlds first 'Sweet Seedless' Tomato". There was a recent article in our local paper about his new tomato. If interested, you can read more about it from the link below:
My indoor setup is nothing to elaborate. I start out with a couple seedling trays, organic seed starting potting mix, and a seed heat mat. Once the seedlings begin to sprout I begin to ween them off the heat mat and turn on the lights. The light I provide them is the normal 40w florescent shop tubes (2). I keep the lights very close to the young plants. This is where a lot of people make the mistake of placing the plants to far from the light source. One to two inches is where I place mine and I leave the light on just about all the time. A few other tips I've learned:
- Fluorescent lights tend to give off more light in the center of the bulb. So try to keep them as close to the center of the tube as possible.
- Fluorescent lights dim over time and should be replaced every few years. A good indication of when to change out is when dark rings begin to appear on the ends of the tubes.
- Keep them clean and as dust free as possible.
I have found that my seedlings still get a little leggy in the beginning but seem to toughen up once I repot them and begin putting them outside to harden off.
A great book that I would recommend to anyone wanting to start their own tomato seeds is by author Mike McGrath, titled "You bet your tomatoes!".
Mike McGrath tells it like it is in this little book. He keeps it simple, fun and provides tons of information from start to finish. While this book explains the details of starting tomato seeds, it provides information that can be used when starting just about any type of seeds indoors.