Sowing 2011

I have a commercial growing background, although sometimes you would think not! My seeds were sown in perfect conditions, keeping an average temperature of about 20 degrees, until the thousands of seeds emerged.
However, as I am now on a tiny scale, I can afford not to take it all too seriously.
I have not yet got myself a heated propagator and as room in the house is limited,  and spring is just around the corner, I thought that I would risk sowing in the unheated polytunnnel.

As per normal, as soon as I had sowed my seeds, the temperature at night dropped, although we are getting some bright sunny days. This morning at 10 am, however, it is just 5 degrees, tant pis as they say here in France.
My cunning plan is to keep my little trays as warm as possible inside the polytunnel, inside the fleece covered mini greenhouse, which as you can see is then covered again with sunbed covers,and an old curtain, not a pretty sight, but it will keep the frost out. 

I have a thermometer inside to check how low and high it gets. The  days are getting well into the twenties, and I even have to open the door in the day to stop it getting too warm. The nights started well at 10 to 12 degrees, but last night went down to 5 degrees.

My head tells me this is not the ideal conditions, but time will tell and I am sure that they will germinate in their own time.

Another thing that some people do not realise is that seeds do not need light to germinate, so if you have a warm dark place inside the house, that will be the perfect conditions until your tiny seedlings start showing. From then on, the more light the better.

Plants will of course grow in non perfect conditions, as we all know, but on a commercial scale, you cannot afford to take risks. What some people do not realise, however, is at a latter stage with small plants with the first trusses developing, if the temperature is too low, there will be tiny tomatoes, so you think all is well, but they will not set, so not grow a lot bigger. On later trusses that have had better conditions all will be well, so if you get setting problems on lower trusses, do not over worry.

The problem sometimes with not getting the first trusses to set, is that you can get an unbalanced leggy plant, (as the forming toms act as a suppressant for the plant, to put it in simple terms,)  and  you get a thin tall plant with little fruit, especially if this is coupled with low light levels.

To combat this problem, you can give a high potash feed which works on the fruit, nitrogen is for growth. But more on that later as the season goes on.

Just in case any of you have not seen how I built my polytunnel, here is the video clip.