Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show: Tomato and pepper seed start time
Nothing’s better than a homegrown tomato. You can make that experience even better by starting your own from seed. The best barometer for planting tomatoes and peppers outside is when the soil temperature is 60 to 70 degrees. Usually that’s Memorial weekend in zone 4 and a week or so later in zone 3. Planting early usually means stunted growth. I’m going to start some seeds within the next week or so. But I have to do mine outside on my porch… this way….
I just got my greenhouse out on 4-5-2020 but nothing in it yet!
You can pick up a thermometer for about $5 to $7 at your local nursery.
For seed starting, peat pots are my choice due to their ease of use. When I had the space, I put them in a shallow tray and used a heating mat to keep a nice steady temp of around 70 degrees.
Keep the seeds moist while germinating, a spray bottle to water the soil surface without blowing out the soil is useful. There’s no need to fertilize until the plants have several true leaves. Then use a weak solution of all purpose fertilizer once a weak. Less is better.
Keep the light about 6 inches from the top. I’ve used a pulley system. Also let a fan gently blow across the seedlings for an hour a day to strengthen their stems.
Keep your seeds and seedlings MOIST, not wet. You’re looking for your plants to be robust, stocky. If they get leggy, they’re not as healthy, HOWEVER, tomatoes can be planted deep and in fact, should be. Roots will form all along any stem that’s in soil.
Check this out on Starting Seeds indoors by the University of MN Ext.