Week 1 Planting Roma Tomato Seeds in Seed Starter Trays

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Hello there, I’m Ramona Werst, the Backyard Genie….I am so excited to get ready to plant my Roma Tomatoes.  Now Roma tomatoes are my favorite because I use them in sauces and many recipes, but you can always plant your favorite tomatoes with almost the same results as I get here.  Just so you know, I have several other varieties of tomatoes planted, I just like my Roma’s the best and will refer to them in this report.

You can plant them either in late summer for a late fall harvest (most of the videos were from this season) or you can plant them indoors in late winter/early Spring for an early summer harvest.

Roma Tomatoes are my favorite tomato.  I love that they are a meatier tomato, packed with delicious flavor.  My tomato garden in the fall is all Roma Tomatoes.  I get ready for the winter and make plenty of Picante Sauce and Pasta Sauce to freeze so I can enjoy sauces anytime during the winter.

In the spring planting, for an early summer harvest, I will plant all different kinds of heirloom tomatoes.  I love to slice them drizzle with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to eat them at nearly every meal.  Of course I have plenty of Roma Tomatoes for fresh salsa, pizza sauce and oven roasted tomatoes.

So let’s get started

To prepare to plant your tomato seeds, you will need seed starter trays, seed starting soil, aluminum trays, and of course tomato seeds.  And labels (if you are planting more than just Roma Tomatoes)  I just type Roma Tomato and print on white paper, seal with tape (poor man’s laminating) and use an opened paper clip as the stick to put in the seed starter tray.

Let’s talk about what is inside your seeds so you have a small understanding of what will be going on soon as you get ready to plant your seeds.  Planting your seeds and watching them grow into beautiful plants and flowers is one of the most satisfying activities you can do on the planet….in my humble opinion!

Seeds come with everything they need to continue their existence built right into each and every one of them.  They have everything they need to adapt to their conditions imprinted in their DNA.  The seeds know when to remain dormant, when to begin thinking about sprouting, when soil and temperatures are right for them to sprout, and they even have built in food to help them get started in life.  Sounds like a Miracle, huh?

They can break through their hardened seed shell and their sustenance will carry them through their first few days or weeks as seedlings until they can send out roots and their starter leaves to receive nutrition from their environment.

Since the seeds are able to pop into the world without too much help, they do  actually need a couple of things from you, the gardener.  The potting soil that is needed, doesn’t have to be nutrient rich, just loose enough so the little plant can reach the surface without a big fight.  I suggest using 1 part vermiculite and 1 part milled sphagnum moss, or you can purchase a seed starting mix.  We’ll talk about a nutrient filled potting mix when we are ready to transplant.

Moistening the potting mix before putting into the seed starter tray is the best way.  I fill up the tray, press each compartment to make sure it’s filled, put in 1 seed per compartment, then sprinkle a light layer of the dry potting soil on top of the seeds.  Not too thick, just enough to cover.  Don’t water from the top, just pour water into the side of the tray being careful not to drown any of the compartments…..the water in the tray will then wick up from the bottom.

Next the moisture and temperature need to be right.  You don’t want to let the soil dry at all or the little seedling will dry up and die.  Until they have a root system and stem, they are very fragile at this stage.  Again:  Don’t water them from the top, since they don’t have a strong stem.  Water them by adding water to the tray and allow the dirt to act like a wick and pull the water up to the seedling.

What role do we play?

So, where do we come in as lovers of plants and all things growing?  We need to make sure that conditions are right, temperatures are optimal, and that the seeds have sprouted and are sized and ready for transplanting into the garden or a larger growing container.

In most of our areas, seeds will need to be started indoors to achieve what we want to do.  The large commercial nurseries are probably already doing a lot of this type work on a strict schedule in order to get the sprouted seeds to market in a timely manner. Click on this link to find your zone…..USDA site.  After you know your zone, other planting guides will determine your date of last average frost and other temperature factors.  I am located in zone 8b, in the San Antonio, Texas area.  It is way farther south than many other locations, but we do have our cold spells here in winter.

As home growers, we can set our own schedules, keeping in mind that general guidelines need to be followed.  So according to your zone, you know that in order to get your seeds to the right size before planting requires a little advance planning.  In my area of zone 8b, I know that in order for my tomatoes to set their blooms, I need to get them planted so that when they do bloom, outside temperatures will allow the blooms to set and produce those wonderful tomatoes.

To prepare for next week, all you need to do is make sure your tray has water in it and don’t let your seed tray get dry.  I’ll bet it will be hard for you to not walk by to see if your little seedlings are popping up! 🙂

I’m Ramona Werst, the Backyard Genie
Farm Fresh Produce from Your Own Backyard