Tomatosphere Starter Kit
Item #: WB155
TIPS FOR GROWING TOMATO SEED.
Containers: Any container with drainage holes that is at least 3 inches deep will work; cut down milk cartons, yogurt containers, clear lidded deli containers, etc. Just make sure they are clean. Easiest are the Jiffy 7s, which are small peat pellets that are very easy to use as they can be later planted directly into your garden without disturbing tender roots. As well, peat pots are easier to handle, especially if you are planning to send the seedlings home with the students.
Soil: The soil you use is extremely important for success. A sterile, light soiless mixture (i.e. Peat moss & vermiculite) is recommended. The soil you choose should not have added fertilizer. (you do not need soil if you are using the Jiffy 7s).Thoroughly moisten (not soggy) the soil with warm water before putting into your chosen container.
Seeding: Lightly press the seed into the soil and cover with approx ? inch of soil. Do not plant too deep as the seedling will have to struggle to emerge. Cover the container with plastic or a clear dome and move to a warm, bright spot.
Light: Seedlings need a lot of light! Even if your south facing window has lots of light, consider adding a fluorescent light so your seedlings grow strong and healthy. Expensive grow lights are not necessary; just purchase an inexpensive fluorescent fixture. Hang the fixture from chains so that you can adjust the height as the seedlings grow. Keep the lights approx. 3 to 4 inches from the seedlings.
Germination: This is where your patience comes in! Tomato seed normally germinates between 5 and 20 days. Soil temperature is very important for proper germination. The cooler the area, the longer it will take to germinate. Keep the soil moist with a gentle mist of water. As soon as seedlings emerge, remove the plastic wrap or lid.
Growing On: Check on your seedlings daily, keep the soil moist and adjust your lights as the seedlings grow. Thin or transplant your seedlings once you have 2 true leaves. Seedlings need room to grow strong and healthy. At this point you can start fertilizing with a diluted solution of plant food.
Avoid the dreaded disease ? Damping Off: By following the above guidelines you should be able to avoid the fungal disease called Damping-off. There is nothing more heartbreaking than watching your healthy seedling suddenly collapse and lie dead on the soil. Use a sterile soiless seed starting mix in a well-ventilated area. If the area is not well ventilated, run an oscillating fan, make sure your soil is mounded to the top of your container so air will flow over the soil, avoid over-watering, and make sure you remove the cover as soon as seedlings emerge to avoid disease.