Want to Grow Tomatoes This Summer? Now’s the Time to Start Planning.
Yes. You read that correctly. It’s February. And there are two ways to look at that: “It’s ONLY February” or “It’s ALREADY February.”
I am firmly in the “already” camp.
Over the past few years, we have stopped buying tomato plants, and instead, we grow tomatoes from seed. Some are interesting new seeds we buy. Some are heirloom seeds that were given to us. And some are seeds from particularly successful and tasty varieties we saved from last year’s garden.
Is there more work involved in growing seedlings than in buying established plants? Of course. But gardening is not for those who base all choices on “the easy way out.” And, truth be told, the fun of watching the seeds sprout far outweighs any extra work. Not to mention that a packet of seeds should yield you enough plants to fill your yard AND the yards of grateful friends and neighbors for half the cost of even one well established plant.
So, let’s get moving. Scope out your home for the sunniest spot you have that you’ll be willing to utilize. (Or, if you’re really lucky and have one of those grow light towers you can use the basement!) Get some seed trays or even egg cartons. Buy some good potting soil. Go to the garden shop and select some fun looking heirloom seeds—or, even better, look at some online catalogues. But I warn you... seed catalogues can be a dangerously enjoyable rabbit hole! Once you start looking at one, you will become lost in them.
It’s also worth it to check out local seed saver-type organizations. Those folks are doing great work, making sure that diversity remains in a world where big commercial growers have narrowed varieties down to a few. I understand that shippers need tough varieties that travel well, but those are never the most flavorful. And thankfully, your tomatoes don’t need to travel any further than from your garden to your plate.
You’ll want to start planting your seeds about two months before temperatures allow them to head outside (50 and above at night). Keep them in warm sunny conditions, but don’t let them dry out. There is a lot of specific information about keeping seedlings healthy that you will find while you’re wandering around the seed catalogue rabbit hole.
But believe me, while you watch them grow, and when you bite into your first tomato, you’ll be astounded that you did this...from an odd looking little flat thing about the size of a drop of water.
And with that, I’ve got to go. I have seed catalogues in which I’m planning to get lost! Because hey... it’s ALREADY FEBRUARY!