Early Tomato Seed Sowing 2011

I am not really geared up to sow too early, but spurned on by a thread on Grow Your Own Forum, I have decided to sow a few early seeds. The problem is not actually sowing the seeds, it is how to raise the plants before they go into the polytunnel, before the last of the winter frosts. 
So I have just sown 15 seeds, which I am sure I will find a place for in the house until they are too big.

I have sown 5 x Guernsey Island seeds, which have been sent to me by Richard from New Zealand. These are Heritige tomatoes which were grown in Guernsey probably before I was born. I have only found them grown in the States or down under, so they are pretty rare seeds. A big thank you to Richard for sending me some seeds.
I have also sown 5 x Ailsa Craig, which I happened to have some seeds left over from last year.
While I was at it, I added 5 x California Wonder sweet peppers.
Sowing by the correct moon cycle the seeds had to go in today, and not having yet got a heated propagator I went out to buy some seedling compost and found this seed tray with a cover, for about 15 euros.

I kept the bag of compost warm by  the fire for a few hours, and wet it with warm water before sowing the seeds. The only window cill that I could use that was south facing is unfortunately the only window not double glazed, so I lined it with some polystyrene. Luckily, it has the typical French shutter, which keeps most of the draught out, and  I will be able to give the seedlings some daylight once they are up.

I have also added a towel to go over the top of the plastic cover, tomato seeds do not need any light until they are up, and the towel will add extra warmth.

I have a temperature sensor, which I will place under the towel, to see how warm I can keep them, an even temperature of around 20 degrees is best, until they are up. We have got a brilliant wood burner for heating, which keeps the room at about 20 degrees, and in the morning it has dropped to only about 16 degrees, so that should be fine.

3rd Jan

last night I moved the tray away from the window, as it was 17.5 in the window and 21 in the room.
The minimum it dropped to last night was 16.2, so not too bad.


  1. That is a lot of hard work for the seeds to germinate! Here we simply sow the seeds in the soil and they will grow. But the fruits are not as big and as nice as yours.

    Thank you for your comment on my previous post.
    Happy germinating! ;)

  2. Hi Mika, the problem is that it was zero degrees outside last night, so the seeds need to be as warm as possible to germinate, about 20 is best. In the spring and summer, it would be far simpler.

  3. Inspirational stuff, Steve, thanks! We're still very much in winter mode, thoughts directed to our woodland and other winter jobs and not at all thinking of planting tomatoes. I shall email this link over to Gabrielle's computer (four feet away!) and dig out the heated propagator we found in my parents garage and see what we can do.
    Can you give us an update (next blog?) on when these plants are expected to be planted out and where (inside/outside).
    With you tutelage, we'll look forward to a longer tomato season,

  4. Hi Stuart
    I am well ahead of last years sowing, which is why I have only a few plants that will have to stay in the house until there is no frost in the polytunnel, probably march/april. So they will be put into large pots with a stake.
    Just watch this space if you want to follow my mistakes. lol.

  5. Very nice and innovative thinking indeed.There os a need fr more such thoughts so that there can be substituting ideas for growing better produce.

  6. Most of the seeds did come up in about a week, but they soon got 'leggy' through lack of light.
    I should have made a large heated light box, to bring them on. But I have to admit that I have been too busy with my new websites, so have taken the lazy option of re-sowing in the polytunnel, which you will see in my new posts.
    I have been sent to the back of the class and had to do a hundred lines of 'must try harder!'


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