How To Grow Tomatoes: Part 1

Tomato Seeds

The perfect size for that sunny spot behind the kitchen sink.

The perfect size for that sunny spot behind the kitchen sink.

This is the first of a series that is going to teach you how to build the most intensely over-engineered tomato garden. It will also result in the most amazing tomato plants you’ve ever grown.

How are we going to do that, you ask? Eventually I’m going to send you to your local hardware store to buy enormous Rubbermaid tubs, bags of rocks, a carefully selected blend of fertilizers, and enough dirt to build a small country. But that isn’t now.

Right now it’s winter. It’s cold. We’re still in the frosty danger zone even in California. But… since you should be starting your tomato seeds indoors, roughly 6-8 weeks before the danger of frost has passed, we’re well within the proper timeframe for seed selection. Trust me, by the time you do your research and get the seeds into their starter pots, we’ll be nearing March 1.

Now, you can go to your hardware store and pick up any old seeds, but since you’re going through the hassle of growing little seedlings indoors, and building an industrial-strength garden, you might as well go for the good stuff.

Our stash last year came from Gary Ibsen’s Tomatofest. The seeds were great and the varieties were excellent (the Tiny Kitchen Assistant specifically requests a return of Pink Ping Pong this year). However, the site is really difficult to use. Are you looking for tomatoes that are well-suited for your garden in Wisconsin or Florida? Sorry, you can’t search by useful parameters like geography. The best suggestion that I can make is to consult Le Google for “best tomatoes grow bay area” or whatever your location may be. This will point you in the direction of all kinds of gardening forums that will give you insights into tomato names, and you can then take that information to Tomatofest for purchase.

The only other thing you’ll need at this point is a series of little Jiffy greenhouses. I bought ours at Lowe’s, but I’m sure that you can find something similar almost anywhere.

Next week, we’ll talk about how to build your containers.

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