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To take advantage of the tastiest varieties of tomatoes, it is interesting to get out of the common species and reconnect with older ones, with varied colors, shapes and flavors. They are then grown lovingly, from seed to seedling to the adult plant which will cover itself with fleshy fruits.
Is the urge there? It remains to be seen when to sow. Sowing starts from mid-February until the end of April. In regions lagging behind the national average (mountainous regions in particular), there is no urgency to start sowing very early. As always with crops, before the time is not the time, and it is important not to neglect the phenomenon of "catching up", that is to say the ability of plants to compensate for an apparent delay once the conditions necessary for their growth are met.
Necessary material : - Potting soil - Tubs - Seeds (around € 4 per sachet) - A spray bottle - Labels + a suitable pencil
Step 1: Prepare your substrate
Which substrate for sowing? The ideal - but also the most expensive - is the special seedling soil that is obtained in garden centers and which is guaranteed free of unwanted seeds. Otherwise, you can create a light and interesting substrate by mixing vermiculite with potting soil. Or more simply, make a mixture of garden soil and potting soil, sifting the soil beforehand to remove the largest particles and thus facilitate the emergence of young seedlings.
Step 2: Choose your container and fill it with substrate
The tomatoes are sown in trays designed for sowing (see photo) or - even better and less expensive - in polystyrene trays collected from a fishmonger. You just need to make a few holes for water drainage to have perfect "incubators" for your seedlings! Fill your container - whatever it is - with the substrate previously made to a depth of at least 5 cm.
Step 3: Sow
With tomatoes, sowing is an act of patience. The seeds should be sown far enough apart to encourage each to grow. Place them one by one, spaced about 1 cm apart.
Step 4: Cover the seedlings
Once the seeds have been carefully arranged, cover them with a thin layer of substrate.
Step 5: Compartmentalize your bins and label the varieties
If you are sowing several varieties, compartmentalize your containers (here by means of crate tips) to distinguish them. Add a label with the name of the variety. If you feel the need, also note the sowing date, this can be interesting to have a benchmark as to their emergence and growth.
Step 6: Water your seedlings
Watering is an almost daily gesture during the emergence period. As always, you must aim for the right balance: do not soak the substrate with abundant and too regular watering, and do not risk compromising emergence by forgetting to add water for several days at a stretch. To best meet their needs, lovingly monitor the well-being of your tomatoes and learn to love them even in the form of seedlings! For watering, use a spray bottle that will provide them with the necessary water gently.
Step 7: Place your seedlings in the light
Your young shoots will need light and heat to emerge from the ground. Place the tubs on the windowsill of a sunny window or in a temperate greenhouse. The germination temperature is 16 ° minimum. Below, the lifting will be considerably slowed down! It is important to place the trays as close as possible to the light, otherwise the small plants will tend to wither (that is to say to push everything in stems at the expense of robustness) to fetch the light. Also make sure, during the lifting period, to frequently change the orientation of your bins to avoid this same phenomenon.
Step 8: Find the right time to repot
Before planting in place in your vegetable patch, your tomatoes will go through a potting step in an individual pot, this step allowing them to continue their growth in good conditions. Potting can be done from the moment the plants have developed two "real leaves" in addition to the first two shoots that appear ... and which technically are not!
Step 9: Transplant your tomatoes in individual pots
For transplanting, use individual 8 cm cups, of the type that are collected in garden centers. Fill them with a mixture of potting soil and garden soil. Simply make the planting hole with your finger. To gently dislodge the plant from its container, without risking damaging the roots, take a small spoon. Do not be afraid to bury the stem of the young plant widely: on the contrary, it will allow it to harden by developing a root tissue over the entire buried surface of its stem. It will then only be more robust and more able to fetch in the soil the elements necessary for its growth.
Step 10: Water the young plants and continue to bring them light and warmth
Continue to watch over their well-being by providing them with the water necessary for their growth. In terms of light and heat, now that you are more advanced in the season, you can start to take out the pots a few hours a day on sunny days, then place them in a cold greenhouse at night where frosts will not be feared. This will help acclimatize and strengthen them. Planting in the open ground will be done once the risk of frost has been completely eliminated, for example by taking the famous "ice saint" as a reference.
For our advice on planting your tomatoes, read on here.