Winter Sowing forum: Wintersowing Tomato Seeds

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Name: Natalie
North Central Idaho (Zone 7a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Frogs and Toads Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Native Plants and Wildflowers
Cottage Gardener Dog Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: United States of America Echinacea Xeriscape
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Natalie
Jan 14, 2015 3:51 PM CST
Is there a particular time that is best for wintersowing tomatoes? I have seeds for Sugary, which is my very favorite tomato. I tried growing it from seed last year, and didn't have any luck. It grew a little, and then quickly died. I think it got way too hot in the greenhouse and it got fried. I know that tomatoes do well with wintersowing, since I am always pulling up seedlings in the Spring, but I'm not sure when the best time to start them would be. I don't have many seeds left, so I don't want to waste them! I can't buy the plants where I live, so I have to grow them from seed if I want them.

This will be my first year for wintersowing anything on purpose, so I'm lost! Thanks for any suggestions!
Natalie
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
Dragonflies Dog Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover Plays in the sandbox
Butterflies Region: Texas I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member Annuals Garden Sages
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lovemyhouse
Jan 14, 2015 4:35 PM CST
Natalie, did you check the calendar, here?
http://garden.org/apps/calendar/
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Composter Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Seedfork
Jan 14, 2015 4:41 PM CST
I was going to mention the ATP site also, but realized it does not really give a date for winter sowing (as I interpret it). The inside sowing date is for the type I often do( sowing seeds in cups, etc and growing them under lights), but winter sowing is for outside, but not directly sowing in the row. I don't see why (based on the fact that they spring up in the spring time) they could not be winter sown any time, am I wrong on that?
Name: Natalie
North Central Idaho (Zone 7a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Frogs and Toads Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Native Plants and Wildflowers
Cottage Gardener Dog Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: United States of America Echinacea Xeriscape
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Natalie
Jan 14, 2015 4:42 PM CST
Thanks Debra. Smiling I did check that, but wasn't sure if that was accurate for wintersowing, or for growing under lights. I'm not doing lights this year.
Natalie
Name: Natalie
North Central Idaho (Zone 7a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Frogs and Toads Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Native Plants and Wildflowers
Cottage Gardener Dog Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: United States of America Echinacea Xeriscape
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Natalie
Jan 14, 2015 4:43 PM CST
Cross posted Seed, and you had the same thought I did!
Natalie
Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
Dragonflies Dog Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover Plays in the sandbox
Butterflies Region: Texas I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member Annuals Garden Sages
Image
lovemyhouse
Jan 14, 2015 4:55 PM CST
Ah, you meant direct sowing. *Blush* *Blush*
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Composter Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Seedfork
Jan 14, 2015 5:06 PM CST
No, not indoor or direct sowing, but winter sowing. Simple example: milk jug cut in half, seed sown, then taped together and set outside.
[Last edited by Seedfork - Jan 14, 2015 5:11 PM (+)]
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Name: Geof
NW Wisconsin (Zone 4b)
Region: Wisconsin Dahlias Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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mandolls
Jan 14, 2015 5:27 PM CST
I dont think it really matters when you winter-sow tomatoes. They don't sprout before the weather warms up, and they don't need a freeze in order to germinate, so you can really do it pretty much any time.

My spring probably comes a lot later than yours (zone 4 WI), but my experience with winter sowing tomatoes is they come up much later and are much smaller than I want them to be in May. My tomatoes started indoors under lights are sturdy 12-18" tall plants by mid-late May. The one time I winter sowed tomatoes they were still 2" sprouts in Mid-May. My season is to short to begin that late.
Name: Natalie
North Central Idaho (Zone 7a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Frogs and Toads Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Native Plants and Wildflowers
Cottage Gardener Dog Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: United States of America Echinacea Xeriscape
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Natalie
Jan 14, 2015 5:34 PM CST
Thanks Geof. I've never had good luck growing them under lights, even though I tried for several years. They were too spindly, so I finally gave up on that a few years ago, and decided that I'd try wintersowing, since I can't find the plants here. I'm just worried about my zone and starting too soon. It is 42 out today. I know I have a lot of winter ahead of me, but it really doesn't get too terribly cold here for very long. It hasn't even gotten below freezing in the last few days. So, I guess I'm worried about starting them too early. I could always purchase more seeds, but I'd rather not have to do that. My problem is I can't stop at just one type of seed! Hilarious!
Natalie
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Composter Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Seedfork
Jan 14, 2015 6:11 PM CST
I have had the problem of too spindly tomato plants, but I think one thing other that brighter lights put closer to the plants which is usually the recommendation, I found it better to start tomato seeds in very shallow soil, then slowly as they grow to add soil around them and set them outside on every warm day, and even better is to use a cold frame.
Name: Natalie
North Central Idaho (Zone 7a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Frogs and Toads Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Native Plants and Wildflowers
Cottage Gardener Dog Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: United States of America Echinacea Xeriscape
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Natalie
Jan 14, 2015 7:44 PM CST
Seed, I did that with the lights and soil, and still got poor results. Didn't try the cold frame though, because I was in zone 5a at the time, and didn't think they would grow any better in there. But, who knows. I should have tried it. I'm hopeful that wintersowing is going to work instead. I'm usually not all that good at growing anything by seed, so it is just me being unlucky. Hilarious!
Natalie
Name: Geof
NW Wisconsin (Zone 4b)
Region: Wisconsin Dahlias Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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mandolls
Jan 14, 2015 7:58 PM CST
@Natalie - I'm surprised to hear Idaho is that warm. We are supposed to get up in the mid-30's tomorrow, but that is kind of freakish for January here. There is a WS thread here so maybe best to check with those folks, but I was under the impression that pretty much all winter sowed seed goes out by February at the latest. When I start them inside I use the 6-8 weeks before planting out rule. For me that isn't until the end of May, so I start my tomato seed in early April.

Good luck!
Name: Natalie
North Central Idaho (Zone 7a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Frogs and Toads Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Native Plants and Wildflowers
Cottage Gardener Dog Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: United States of America Echinacea Xeriscape
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Natalie
Jan 14, 2015 8:46 PM CST
Thanks @mandolls. Not all of Idaho is this warm, but where I live, it isn't bad, and I'm pretty far North. Our elevation is only 1,750 feet, which really helps. We're also on the South side of a river canyon, so when it snows, it melts pretty fast. This is only our second winter here, but I love it!
Natalie
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Jan 14, 2015 8:57 PM CST
It depends on how you define "wintersowing". I think of it as sowing seeds in a vented, covered container, outside. I use milk jugs almost exclusively. I put out perennials in the winter time, but tender annuals, including tomatoes, I don't do until very late winter or early spring. The problem with sowing tenders (think tomatoes) in January is that in most of the country, as days start to lengthen, we get unusually warm days. Tender seeds can sprout in one of these early warm spells, only to freeze to death when the winter weather reappears.

I had great results wintersowing my tomatoes for several years, but then two years ago the weather stayed so cold that very few sprouted by May so I had to go out and buy plants. Last year, I started them inside under lights, and I was glad I did. Weather stayed so cold throughout spring that I had more plants than I knew what to do with inside. I ended up buying one of those little mini greenhouses for extra plant space.

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Karen


Name: Natalie
North Central Idaho (Zone 7a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Frogs and Toads Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Native Plants and Wildflowers
Cottage Gardener Dog Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: United States of America Echinacea Xeriscape
Image
Natalie
Jan 14, 2015 11:09 PM CST
Karen, that is what I was going to do - start them in a milk carton, left outside. I do have a green house, but the cover is off right now, so I was going to put them on the tables in there to keep them safe from the dogs. Thanks for the info about them sprouting too early. That was what I was thinking, but didn't know if tomatoes would be affected by that or not. I do get them coming up in the garden, so I know that the seeds will survive even brutal temps, but I'd rather plant them and hope for the best that way, rather than tossing the seeds in the garden and hoping that they will come up.

Thanks for the help!
Natalie
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
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kqcrna
Jan 15, 2015 5:42 AM CST
To prevent too-early germination, it might help to put the jugs in shade or part shade. I use my deck which faces northeast and gets morning sun only. Once they sprout, cut the tape and flip the jug "roof" open so the seedlings get lots of air and avoid frying. That milk jug becomes really a hot greenhouse in hot sun. At night, if temps are cool, flip the top closed. If it gets really cold, like below freezing, I cover them with a blanket .

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I've also wintersown toms in cups half filled with potting mix, then placed the cups into a covered bin. When they sprout, I remove the lid from the bin. I add soil to the top so that the plants stem is buried deeper. Even though the plants can seem small to start, they have amazing roots and grow fast once the warm weather comes. This was in April 2012

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In August
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Karen

Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
Dragonflies Dog Lover I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Photography Bee Lover Plays in the sandbox
Butterflies Region: Texas I sent a postcard to Randy! Charter ATP Member Annuals Garden Sages
Image
lovemyhouse
Jan 15, 2015 9:44 AM CST
Karen, what purpose do the bricks serve in the bin?
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
Image
kqcrna
Jan 15, 2015 9:48 AM CST
To keep the bin from being blown away in our violent midwest winds. I've even had them blown away with a brick in the bin, so now I generally use two bricks per bin. I'll see if I can find those pictures. And if you look at that little mini greenhouse of mine above, you'll notice that it's tied to the deck railing with rope.

Karen
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
Echinacea Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: Ohio Region: United States of America Butterflies Hummingbirder
Image
kqcrna
Jan 15, 2015 9:59 AM CST
It was 2010. There was a brick in every bin.


Thumb of 2015-01-15/kqcrna/7f6a38 Thumb of 2015-01-15/kqcrna/dccc63

Karen
Name: Natalie
North Central Idaho (Zone 7a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Frogs and Toads Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Native Plants and Wildflowers
Cottage Gardener Dog Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: United States of America Echinacea Xeriscape
Image
Natalie
Jan 15, 2015 11:32 AM CST
It is very windy where I live too, because I'm in a river canyon. I'm going to tie the bins to the heavy tables in the green house. I don't have much shade to speak of, and none in an area that the dogs can't get to, so I think I better wait on the tomatoes, until the end of next month at least. If I remember right, February was horrible here last year, with that arctic blast that the rest of the country got. But, that isn't normal, of course. It's really warm here for being so far north, but being this far north means that we also get cold air that comes down from Canada. We got down to 23 last night, but didn't freeze overnight for several days before that. I'm still not sure what normal is for my area, since I'm still pretty new here!

I've got lots of containers ready, so maybe I'll start some perennials now, and wait on the tomatoes. I looked at the tomato seeds last night, and only have 6 left. I don't want to lose any of them!
Natalie

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