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Starting tomatoes indoors

So, when do people start their tomatoes from seed indoors? I generally put them in seed trays and leave them lying around inside - annoying mrs bf... I've got a coldframe outside but no greenhouse so I generally just use that for hardening off.

I waited till late March last year for sowing but I felt in hindsight that was too late and meant they missed out on a pretty warm spring - if they'd been further along, they could have gone out earlier. Last frost here in SE London was in January!

Reason I started them late though was because in 2013, I started them at the end of Jan and had to keep some pretty large seedings indoors until about mid-June as spring was so cold with lots of frosts! They were looking pretty unhealthy and light-starved - but took off and recovered well once outside.

So, maybe this year I split the difference and go for February!?



  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 24,602

    I think Feb is still a bit early. You have no greenhouse so the options are, indoors, or outside. Tomatoes won't take any frost , so really you can't plant them out before May ( depending where you are in the country) I'd sow them later when you can get them out once they're at the right stage , rather than having them all leggy and weak indoors. 

  • AWBAWB Posts: 419

    What to do now says plant them now.

    personally always leave a little longer, plant toms , peppers , and chillis at the same time , probably wrong but it works for me.

    i shall be bringing some strawberries into the greenhouse, and successively for a few weeks.

    the produce rarely finds its way indoors much to the annoyance of OH, they seem to evaporate on the way.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 60,348

    I don't have a greenhouse so my tomatoes are started off on the kitchen and dining room windowsills - I start mine in early April and pot them on  quickly so they grow well and are ready to be potted on again into bigger pots and put outside in early June - that way they don't suffer from any check in growth and get away strongly - well that's the theory anyway - bearing in mind the Norfolk weather and the idiosyncracies of tomato plants image

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 60,348
    AWB wrote (see)

    What to do now says plant them now............

    What to do now is talking about greenhouse tomatoes - the OP doesn't have a greenhouse and will be growing his tomatoes outside so now is much much too early to sow them.

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • AWBAWB Posts: 419

    I quite agree

  • chickychicky SurreyPosts: 8,854

    I have a GH, but it is unheated, so I don't start my tomatoes off til March (i start them on windowsills indoors too)  This year we also tried some grafted ones from the GC - and both seed grown and grafted started fruiting at the same time, so don't think you lose much by waiting til March (apart from stressing over frost or leggy seedlings).

    i do start the rest of my seeds (mostly flowers) in February, in windowsill propagators - but they don't take off as quickly as tomatoes, so this seems to work well too.

    We did not inherit the earth from our grandparents.  We’re borrowing it from our children.
  • Bf206Bf206 Posts: 234
    Thanks all! V helpful. Will definitely leave another month or so... Still haven't decided what varieties to try this year, after all.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 29,989

    End of March early April indoors for me too Bf. It's too cold here to get them outside once they get bigger so they need to be undercover when they go out.  If you sow too early they just get leggy and you'd have to put them outside in a greenhouse  ( or a  conservatory if you had one) at that stage which would need to be heated. If you intend growing outdoors it's too early to sow. They catch up very quickly anyway. image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Hi from France, I've given up on tomatoes outside as I've had blight for the past 3 years and as I picked the last of my toms at the end of November I have enough to see me through. I have never stopped them at 5 trusses, I bend them over and let them continue   growing along cables as long as they are well fed they keep producing, I started doing this when we lived in Sleaford Lincs., so I know it works in the UK. A tip I got from a French gardening magazine, if your plants are a bit leggy dig a trench lay the plant in it, after removing the bottom leaves and gently bend the plant to come up where you want it to, also put a hand full of nettles in with the root ball, high nitrogen feed as they rot down.

  • PS. to above, no we don't live in the South of France and my greenhouse is situated in frosty hollow it was minus 10 down there yesterday morning.

    Cheers  Ken S. 

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