Growing seedlings of vegetable crops is again entering the peak of popularity. Secondly, there are significant cost savings. And, thirdly, a real opportunity to transfer this business from an amateur to a professional one and organize your own small business.
- Seed selection is the first and main step
- What should be the substrate
- Container for growing seedlings
- Care and watering
Seed selection is the first and main step
The beginning of all plant principles is seeds. The yield of future tomatoes and their susceptibility or immunity to diseases directly depends on their quality.
Seed material, which, in the literal sense of the word, lies in packs in the markets and in stores, must be judged not only by the attractiveness of the packaging. The quality of seeds is checked by laboratory, and how much the manufacturer did not skimp by subjecting the product to a professional check depends solely on his conscientiousness. An ordinary consumer can only trust the information on the package.
Quality seeds should have:
- High germination rate
- Purity (minimal contamination by impurities)
- The required percentage of humidity (within 4-8)
To check the germination of seeds of "home production" (yes from the packaging too), you can use two methods:
- Salted water method. For quality sorting, place the tomato seeds in a solution of ordinary table salt (1 tsp in a glass of water), stir and let stand for 10 minutes. The lightest of the seeds - half-empty and dry - will emerge during this time, and the full-weight ones will remain at the bottom.
- Ebony stick method. Place the seeds evenly on a piece of paper and run an electrified ebony stick over them - it will attract low-quality seedlings.
How to prepare seeds for sowing
There are several ways to prepare for sowing, they all have the same efficiency and there is absolutely no difference which one to choose - the main task of the process is to ensure that the seeds receive a sufficient amount of moisture, swell and "stick".
The methods are as follows:
When choosing purchased tomato seeds for sowing, it is not necessary to pickle them, this has already been done in production conditions. But varietal seedlings from your garden will not hurt to process. For etching, you need a slightly pink solution of potassium permanganate (1 g per 100 ml of water), cotton pads and 30 minutes of time: wrap the seeds in cotton wool and place in the solution. After processing, rinse in clean running water.
Immediately before planting in the ground, the seed must be soaked by placing it between layers of damp tissue. You can soak in both pure water and solutions with the addition of stimulants. The option with stimulants will cost a little more, but the yield of processed tomatoes should also increase by at least a quarter.
There is another way to prepare seeds - hardening. This is in case you are going to grow seedlings in greenhouses located directly in the garden - almost in open ground and spring temperature instability may threaten it.
Hardening is traditionally carried out as follows: after soaking, the seeds are placed in cloth bags and left in a cool place where the temperature does not exceed +20 ... + 50. After keeping the seeds in the cold for two days, they are placed at room temperature for a day, then back in the refrigerator.
What should be the substrate
A huge plus of homemade tomato seedlings is its undemandingness to the soil. This does not mean that it is not picky at all and can grow in anything, even in clay. Not. It is necessary to create acceptable conditions for seeds, but even if there is some discrepancy with the requirements, the tomato seedlings will withstand it with honor. Sour soil, dryish, with a lack of fertilizer - tomatoes tolerate all these troubles
But every self-respecting gardener tries to prepare the most "comfortable" soil mixture for seedlings. It's not as difficult as it sounds, and the ingredients can be found in almost every rural backyard:
- Sod land (1 part)
- Humus (part 1)
- Compost (1 part)
- Loam or sand (0.5 parts)
Self-made soil must be disinfected before planting seeds so as not to expose future sprouts to the danger of various diseases.
Two well-known processing methods:
- Freezing (prepare the substrate in the fall and leave it outside for the whole winter under a canopy to freeze).
- Steaming (for this you need to build a "double boiler" from a bucket and a colander: pour water into the bucket so that it does not reach the bottom of the colander, cover the colander with gauze in several layers, add earth, put the structure on fire and "cook" for about an hour).
If you just pour boiling water over the ground, this will not give the desired effect: you can easily wash out all the microelements with hot water and “cook” beneficial microorganisms. So you have to make a double boiler. If you don't want to mess with buckets, you can simply bake the soil in the oven or buy a ready-made disinfected substrate.
Container for growing seedlings
Growing seedlings at home involves a wide selection of containers, and it can be very diverse in shape and material - that is, you can use any boxes that come to hand. Usually these are cardboard packages for milk and juices, such as a tetra-pack, plastic in which a cake was bought for a celebration, or even ordinary plastic glasses or bottles cut in half.
When using packaging from milk and kefir, gardeners need to be extremely careful: unwashed milk may remain in the corners of the packs, which can infect the soil with the ubiquitous lactic acid bacteria. This will cause mold and further health problems for the seedlings.
Therefore, it is more logical and safer to use another type of available container - plastic boxes from under dry confectionery (cookies, waffles). It is elementary to prepare boxes for seedlings: punch small holes in the bottom of the containers for the excess water to drain, fill up the soil, pour it with a weak solution of potassium permanganate and plant the seeds.
Ready containers should be placed in pallets, covered with cling film and placed in a bright place at a temperature of + 16 ... 18 degrees. An excellent place for seedlings is an insulated veranda with large windows or glass walls. The main thing that the seeds and sprouts should receive is moisture, light and warmth.
Care and watering
The first days after planting in the ground, you don't even need to go to the seed boxes - they have everything you need. The condensate collected on the "ceiling" of the film serves as "watering", a certain temperature is kept under the film, due to the fact that the container is exposed "in the sun".
You should start paying attention to the sprouts after they hatch from the ground and begin an intensive period of development above the soil. For the day it is necessary to free the young seedlings from the film - they must "breathe", and at night, cover the boxes again to preserve the optimum temperature.
Water the seedlings every 5-7 days, make sure that the sprouts have enough light, otherwise they will begin to fade and stretch. The air in the seedling room should be fresh and clean, but drafts should not be allowed, which can destroy all your work.
Diving tomato seedlings
The moment when three full-fledged leaves appear on the sprouts is very significant. This is the time for diving seedlings, that is, transplanting from the general into separate containers.
Some gardeners consider diving to be Sisyphean labor and transplant plants from a large box directly into open ground, some from the very beginning distribute the seedlings in separate glasses, but most adhere to traditions and dive seedlings according to all the rules.
And the rules are as follows:
- Prepare cups with drainage holes
- Fill containers with soil, compact it a little
- Gently remove the sprouts from the box (one at a time)
- Pinch the root before diving
To acclimatize the plants, it is necessary to increase the temperature in the room by 2-3 degrees and keep the tomato sprouts in such a climate for 3-4 days. This will be enough for the seedlings to "get used" to the fact of their separate growth. Further, the temperature can be lowered,
and start feeding and hardening the seedlings.
There is nothing complicated in the rules for growing high-quality seedlings. Ease of care, availability of seed, its correct choice as a result give an excellent result - a lot of tasty and healthy homemade tomatoes, which in the master's skillful hands turn into salad, borscht, and homemade ketchup.
Useful video about sowing tomato seeds for seedlings: