The Nightshade Family
Based on my research, tomatoes (whose botanical name is Solanum lycopersicum, and belong to the Nightshade Family) originated in the Andes, around Peru-Ecuador-Bolivia. They then spread through the rest of South America, Central America and then Mexico – all before European colonizers arrived in the 1500s. (Aggie Horticulture, The Tomato Had to Go Abroad to Make Good)
The tomato appears in cookbooks from Napoli around the mid 1550s.
One early Italian writer called the tomato poma Peruviana, suggesting that it was introduced from Peru. Another called it poma d’oro, or “gold apple,” indicating that the earliest introductions were yellow-fruited. By the middle of the 18th century the tomato was grown for food extensively in Italy and to some extent in many European countries. (Planet Natural, History of Tomatoes)
Tomatoes only came to North America afterwards brought over by European immigrants.
It is amusing to think that the tomato, which most of us think of as quintessentially Italian, in fact evolved on a different continent in a different hemisphere. … Even more bizarre, the fruit was not introduced to the U.S. and Canada via Mexico, where it was well established, but via European immigrants. Talk about taking the long way around. (Planet Natural, History of Tomatoes)
Now lets get down to it – Tomato Seeds – Sow Seeds Indoors
Start tomato seeds indoors 6- 8 weeks before transplanting outside, once the danger of frost has passed.
Typically for the average date of the last spring frost in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) region is April 30 and average date of the first fall frost is October 13 (Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs). But I use Victoria Day (aka May Two-Four)long weekend to plant outside, as do many gardeners in GTA. It is a good time with the May two-four long weekend and generally it is a safe time for plants that require protection from frost and warmer temperatures.
Here are the steps I suggest and took:
Read the seed package for seed instructions:
For my tomato seeds the package tells me to start the seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before transplanting, so shorter than the pepper and eggplant seeds.
Find a warm place, for the tomato seeds to germinate:
The area that works best for my pepper seeds to germinate, because it is consistently warm, is in my kitchen, under a counter by a heat vent. Since seeds don’t need good light this location works great for germination.
- Secure everything you need to start:
- Tomato seeds. I have four kinds of tomatoes I’m growing this year.
- Beef Steak
- Egg cartons, jiffy peat pots with trays and plastic covers or homemade pots made out of newspaper (I’m trying the latter for the first time with the sweetie and Beef Steak seeds)
- Here is what I did to make my pots out of newspaper stips. The only tool was a bottle and newspaper.
- This is where I learned about this type of newspaper pot:
- Use what’s easiest for you, and then when you have some extra time experiment with other ideas. That’s what I do.
- Soilless medium or a seed starting mix
- Strips of cardboard, plastic garden labels or popsicle sticks to label your pots and trays. It is so easy to confuse them so label right away.
- Tape or glue to reseal the seed packages in case you have left over seeds.
Plant your tomato seeds:
- Set up the pots in a container/tray
- Fill in each pot with soil. I find using a large spoon or spatula to fill each pot works well.
- Make a very small 3 mm dent in each pot -the seed package will have the recommended seed depth on it.
- Open your seed packet and empty the seeds onto one hand.
- Grab two seeds at a time and place them in each dent you made.
- Cover each seed with the surrounding soilless medium based on the depth provided on the seed package.
- Gently water the seeds, with a small container, measuring cup or your hands so that the water falls gently on the soil.
- Cover the pots and trays loosely with see through plastic bags, plastic sheets or plastic dome type covers.
Watch and care for them
- Have a look every 2-3 days to add some more water so that they don’t dry out, but don’t over water them either.
- once the seedling comes out you can move your trays to a place with good light.
- Once they are 4 cm seedlings you can transplant each one into it’s individual pot into a bigger pot
If this is just too much or it is too late to start this year, you can buy tomato plants in May at retailers and some of the pop-up garden centres, that you can plant outside directly into the ground or planter once the danger of frost has passed and the days are warmer.
I’ll share how my tomatoes are going over the next two months. Your experience with any of your seeds are welcome.