Yes, I understand that it’s December. I choose to ignore that.
Last year the greenhouse where I’ve always bought garden seedlings truly disappointed me for the first time. Their little tomato plants were scrawny and sad. I normally start some of my own seedlings indoors, the brands that I like that the greenhouse doesn’t carry.
Next season, I’ll be starting all of my own tomato seedlings, instead of just a few. There’s no reason not to. My home-started tomato plants were thick-stemmed and healthy, and they were the exact varieties I wanted.
You probably already know all this, but just in case, here are a few solid guidelines for raising your own seedlings:
1. Keep the lights close. I try to keep them around 2-3″ from my plants.
2. Run the lights for 16-18 hours a day.
3. Bury the tomato seedling stem up to the first leaves when you transplant them to a new container. My final container is usually a cut-off half gallon or gallon milk jug, and I usually up-pot twice to get to that size.
4. Use good, light potting mix, preferably made by you. I add some worm castings to mine. There are recipes all over the internet.
5. Run a small fan for a few hours every day. You’ll be amazed how sturdy and thick those seedling stems will become.
6. Ease your seedlings outside when you’re hardening them off. It’s easy for them to get sunburned when they’re young. Start off in the shade and gradually introduce the sun to them. As little as an hour a day at the beginning.
It’s not time yet, but the clock will keep ticking, ticking. Not long now.