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[Tomato Dirt] Is It Time to Start My Tomato Seeds?
January 30, 2014

Tomato Dirt Newsletter
Volume 4, Number 2

Dear Tomato Dirt reader,

Welcome back to Tomato Dirt! Once or twice a month, we’ll send you this newsletter packed with tips about growing tomatoes and using them.

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Feature: Is It Time to Start My Tomato Seeds?

Image: USDA

Is it spring yet? Almost!

Two of the most dangerous diseases that will impact your tomato crop have nothing to do with the plants themselves … but with you: cabin fever and itchy gardening fingers. Start your seeds too early and your plants will outgrow their pots quickly and become leggy, root-bound, and weak. They’ll spend their first weeks in the garden regaining strength, rather than producing new leaf growth and flowers.

But start them too late and (horrors!) you could have a delayed crop.

While tomato seed starting is not a one-size-fits-all, there’s a two-step foolproof way to know when to start your tomato seeds.

  1. Determine the last frost date for your region. If you’re not sure, contact your local extension office. You can also view the freeze/frost information provided by the National Climatic Data Center. Select your state from the drop-down list. On the opened chart, choose the city closest to you. You’ll see the average last frost dates for spring (and first frost for fall) dates – among plenty of other data.
  2. Count back 4-6 weeks from the last frost date for your region. Start your seeds during this window of opportunity.
By showing a tiny bit of discipline – and sticking with this formula – you will be rewarded with healthy, sturdy tomato plants that are ready to set in the garden a week or two after your last frost date has passed.

Check this tomato seed starting timetable for detailed information and then find out more about how to grow tomatoes from seeds to get yourself ready for the new growing season. And be sure to check out our Starting Tomato Seeds board on Pinterest for more fun and inspiring ideas.

Reviews: Tomato Seed Catalogs

Where should you buy tomato seeds? Your local home improvement center offers a few packets on its seed rack, but selection is usually limited to a dozen or so varieties. What a shame … especially since there are thousands of types of tomatoes! If you’re wondering where else to look for tomato seeds, check out our Tomato Seed Vendors page which lists more than 25 vendors that sell tomato seeds. Each fills a special niche.

You can also read reviews of a few tomato seed catalogs to get a better idea of what’s offered:

Check on These Tomato Seed Starting Gadgets

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Small Cowpots to Grow Tomatoes icon 2-Tier Grow Light Stand icon Beginner Seed Starter Kit icon

More about Starting Tomato Seeds

Tomato Grow Lights Explained Seed Starting Containers to Use for Growing Tomatoes How to Germinate Tomato Seeds to Get Best Results Can I Germinate Old Tomato Seeds?

That’s it for now. More next time!

Until then, happy gardening!

Kathy with Tomato Dirt
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