Yes, the thermometer out my window reads 10 degrees F and those winds from our sort-of blizzard of earlier this week are still dying down, but today is a good day to start tomatoes from seed. Indoors, of course.
Why start your tomato seeds in late March? Tomatoes are not from around here. Native to South and Central America and easily cultivated around the Mediterranean Sea, tomato seeds need warm soil to germinate and, once planted outdoors as seedlings, many tomatoes need two to three months of warm weather to produce fruit.
Tomato seedlings generally should be planted outdoors two weeks after the last frost date for your area. In Minnesota, that means anywhere from May 15 to June 1. To get your plants to a good size for outdoor planting, you need six to eight weeks. Counting back from May 15, today is exactly eight weeks. Break out the seed-starting mix!
For instructions on how to start seeds, check out part 1, part 2 and part 3 of our vegetable gardening series, and for suggestions on which tomatoes, go to the list put together by our tomato guru. To start tomatoes, you need seed-starting soil, a container, seed and a light source. If you are lucky enough to have a sunroom or very sunny window, you can start seeds there. Otherwise, a simple florescent light will provide enough light.
Spring is coming. (Keep repeating that.) Have you started any seeds yet?
—Mary Lahr Schier