Sowing Tomato Seeds in Outdoor Pots

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This article will teach you how to start planting tomatoes in an outdoor container.
by Brett · All Zones · Vegetables · 0 Comments · June 28, 2010 · 10,170 views

Sowing Tomato Seeds Oudoors in Pots

Plant tomato seeds outdoors in pots at the recommended number of weeks (indicated on the seed packet) prior to transplanting to the garden bed. For tomatoes, this is usually about 8 weeks prior to the last frost date in your area.

Where tomato seedlings have been started in pots, they should be transplanted into their final positions in the garden when they are about 6" high. Of course, you can leave your tomato plants to grow in the container, but, if this is your plan, make sure to use a 5 gallon size or larger pot, and plant only 3 to 4 seeds in the container - selecting one or two seedlings after germination.

Sowing Seeds Use the following rules to sow tomato seed:

  • Sow seeds by spacing them a 2 or 3 inches apart on top of the soil media and press them in. If no depth is specified on the seed packet, use the general rule of planting the seed at a depth twice the diameter of the seed. If you are planting in individual small pots, or a larger container you intend to keep the plant growing in, plant 3 or 4 seeds per pot. Make sure that no seeds are peeking out from the soil.
  • TIP: When sowing in a an empty plastic tray or flat, sowing in rows is preferred over scattering seed. This method provides better air circulation than scattering of seed. When seedlings are crowded, they may become tall and spindly.
  • To avoid the need to transplant seedlings from a seed flat to pots, you may sow seeds directly into plastic cell packs or peat pots. Plant two or three seeds per cell or pot. When they germinate, remove the two less vigorous seedlings.

Watering Seeds After sowing seeds, keep the medium moist, not wet. Always water gently so as not to uncover the seeds. If a seed becomes exposed, recover it. To keep the medium moist, you may place the container in a plastic bag just large enough for the container. Seal the bag. The plastic bag keeps moisture in, but allows air exchange. The plastic bag method should not require any further watering until germination. Provide proper light and temperature conditions. Provide protection from heavy wind.

Care Of Seedlings Started Outdoors

Once seedlings germinate, remove the container from the plastic bag. Place the container in a location that receives a good amount of sunshine, but is protected from high wind or heavy rainfall. Six hours of sunshine or more a day is recommended. Morning sun is good because it helps to dry dew off the leaves.

Watering Outdoor Seedlings: Watering can be a cause of seedling failure, so check seedlings daily. Keep soil moist but not wet. Small, tender seedlings dry out rapidly and can die. Remember that roots always must have oxygen, as well as water; therefore, do not keep the soil soaked. Water when the surface of the soil begins to dry out, or when seedlings begin to wilt.

Temperature For Seedlings Oudoors: If temperatures will fall below 55 degrees, cover your tomato seedlings with plastic for the night.

Fertilizing Outdoor Seedlings: A regular fertilization program is important for proper plant growth when growing tomato seedlings outdoors. Organic gardeners will fertilize with fish emulsion, cottonseed meal, bone meal and other plant foods, or with a well-balanced all purpose organic fertilizer. if you will not be organically feeding your plants, apply a liquid fertilizer high in phosphorous weekly. Fertilizer with a 1-2-1, N-P-K ratio, such as 15-30-15, is recommended. Dilute fertilizer 1/4 to 1/2 the label's recommended strength and apply sparingly. Always use a liquid form of fertilizer.


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