Tomatoes are an integral part of international cuisine and have long since found a permanent place in domestic gardens. Since they promise a rich harvest with a moderate amount of work, they are very well suited for self-sufficiency. This plant is almost ideal for growing vegetables in a small area. If you want to sow your own tomatoes, these instructions will help you grow them yourself.
How do I harvest and store collected seeds myself?
You should only collect seeds from strong and healthy tomato plants and only from beautiful, well grown and ripened fruits. In order for the collected seeds to germinate at all, the germ-inhibiting outer layer has to come off. You can achieve this with the help of fermentation. Then rinse and dry the seeds, then they can be stored in a cool, dark and dry place until sowing. If you do without fermentation, the seeds can also germinate, but the germination time after sowing is significantly longer.
Instructions for collecting and drying the seeds:
- Halve ripe and healthy tomatoes
- Remove the pulp with the seeds and place in a container
- douse with water
- Cover container with foil
- ferment until the seeds sink to the bottom (takes about 3 days)
- Separate the seeds from the pulp (place in a colander and rinse with water)
- Let the seeds dry thoroughly (on absorbent paper such as kitchen roll)
- keep dry, dark and not too warm
- sow tomatoes
Do I need a greenhouse for sowing tomatoes?
A greenhouse is not necessary for tomato cultivation, but it is often very useful. Cultivation is a lot easier there. For early sowing, however, it should be heated, because tomato seeds germinate at around 18 °C to 21 °C. By sowing several times at different times, you can extend the harvest time of your plants and have your own fresh tomatoes until late autumn. If your greenhouse is not heated, you should wait until mid-March or early April before sowing.
Where can I get really good seeds from?
You can buy tomato seeds, for example, in the supermarket or in the nearby hardware store. However, only a few common varieties are usually offered there. If you want something special, look in nurseries, seeds or on the Internet. But always make sure that the seeds are fresh and not too old. Of course, this is only possible if there is a best-before date on the seed packet. On swap meets or with seeds bought in bulk, you need to trust the honesty of the seller.
How can I get seeds for special tomato varieties?
You can also get seeds from old or foreign tomato varieties in specialist shops. You are sure to find what you are looking for at a market in your holiday country. With foreign varieties, however, be sure to consider the climatic conditions for the desired tomato plants. Not every species from southern countries grows without problems in the relatively cool north of Germany.
On many websites you will find growers of special tomato varieties who often sell organic quality seeds. Visit local markets, you can also get fruits and seeds there. You can try to get the seeds from tomatoes bought there. For this, however, the fruits must be fully ripe, otherwise the seeds obtained may not be able to germinate. This also applies, by the way, if you want to get seeds from your own tomatoes.
Step-by-step instructions – sowing tomatoes
- Fill the cultivation vessel a few centimeters high with special cultivation soil
- Plant the seeds individually in approx. ½ cm deep holes
- Cover approx. ½ cm thick with potting soil
- Pour carefully or moisten with a spray bottle
- put in a warm and bright place
- Keep substrate evenly moist (pour or spray)
- Germination time: 3 to 10 days
- Germination temperature: 18 °C to 21 °C
After about 3 weeks, the little plants have already developed well. Now the cultivation vessel is slowly becoming too small for the many shoots. So that the seedlings do not die and do not prevent each other from growing, they must be repotted. This process is also called pricking. They are isolated, that is, each individual shoot is planted in a pot.
You should pay attention to this when pricking:
- first leaves of the plant must be fully developed
- otherwise there is a risk that the plant will die
- You will need clay or plastic pots about 10 cm in size
- Pricking soil and fertilizer support growth
- Loosen the soil or sieve it beforehand
- Carefully loosen and lift out the plants, taking care not to crush them
- Shorten roots to 2 to 3 cm
- make a small hole in the pricking soil and insert the plant
- Press the soil down lightly, cover the roots with soil
- Water the plant and return it to a warm, bright spot
When is the best time to sow tomatoes?
The ideal time for your tomato sowing depends on various factors, such as the space available for the seedlings and the later location of the plants. However, you should never sow seeds before mid-February. On the one hand, tomatoes need a lot of light and, on the other hand, the young plants are already quite large if they are sowed very early when they can finally be planted out. In addition, the seedlings wither easily in the absence of light. If you have a bright and warm conservatory or a heated greenhouse, you can sow your tomatoes here from mid-February.
If you want to sow your tomato plants on the windowsill, it is better to wait until the beginning of March or even April. A leaky window or unfavorable ventilation of the room can quickly lead to draughts. This damages the sensitive seedlings. However, a small indoor greenhouse can help here. Don’t grow your tomatoes straight on a north-facing window, though. It’s usually too dark here. On a south-facing window, on the other hand, the tender little plants can easily burn in the midday sun. A window facing east or west is ideal.
Can I also sow tomatoes outdoors?
Sowing outdoors is only promising if it is frost-free there. In this country, this is only the case at the end of May after the ice saints. But it will be a long time before your tomato plants bear fruit. Therefore, outdoor sowing is not recommended.
When can the young plants go outside?
Tomato plants are very sensitive to frost and should only be planted outdoors after the ice saints. However, avoid drastic temperature changes. If your young tomatoes have so far been at living room temperatures (approx. 25 °C), then slowly get used to the colder temperatures before they move outside completely. The young tomato plants can move into the greenhouse a little earlier, even if it is unheated. In the evening, close the door and any windows you may have so that the greenhouse stays frost-free at night.