11 August 2019

Time to sow seeds and today I’m sowing tomatoes and also capsicum and eggplant.

The tomatoes should be ready for planting out at Labour Weekend which is actually 11 weeks away. Rob’s tomato plants would be ready in 7 weeks but he does have a more controlled environment. The reason I’m sowing the seeds now is because it’s a good moon phase to sow your tomato and other solanum seeds in. If the plants are ready earlier then we can plant them out earlier. You could also sow again in 4 week’s time when it’s the First Quarter phase again and stagger your planting. The capsicums and eggplants take longer to grow into seedlings and they get planted out later (early November), so that’s why they go in now.

I’ve got some punnets that I’ve bought seedlings in before that I’m going to use for sowing in, so the first thing is to wash them out in a bath of water and vinegar. The vinegar sterilises them.

Next thing is making the seed-raising mix. I’ve got some nice organic potting mix which I’ll sieve to get rid of the chunky bits. Potting mix has pumice included for good drainage. You can also use compost rather than potting mix, but you’ll need to add pumice to sieved compost.

For this amount of mix I’m also adding a dessertspoon of volcanic rock dust (Natures Organic Fertiliser). This makes a nutrient-dense mix for the seedlings to get off to a good start.

Once the punnets are filled and firmed down, make your rows (I used a pencil). Seeds should be sown no more deeply than the diameter of the seed.

Then mark up your labels (name on one side and date on the other) and insert.

I’m planting ‘Roma’ because it’s a determinate tomato which means all the tomatoes come on at once and I’ll use these to make sauces and bottling for the winter. The other types I’m sowing (indeterminate, produce all summer long) are ‘Moneymaker’ – tried and true, medium-sized; ‘Gardener’s Delight’ – has been given a good rap as a red cherry tomato; ‘Black Cherry’; and ‘Honeybee’ (yellow cherry). For the capsicums I’m sticking with ‘Marconi Red’ and for the eggplants ‘Black Beauty’. I’ve bought organic seeds where I could and gone for reputable varieties when organic didn’t exist.

Now carefully lay in the seeds. I’m putting about 5 in for Tomato ‘Roma’ as I want 3-4 plants (hopefully I’ll get a 90% strike rate!) and 3 in the other rows as I really only want 1 plant of all the others. There are between 20-50 seeds in a packet and if you keep them in the fridge, they’ll last for around 5 years. At $3.95 a packet if you buy online, each seed=each plant costs no more than 20 cents.

Sprinkle a fine layer of the seed-raising mix over the seeds.

Then to a water bath add 2-3 capfuls of liquid seaweed and lower the punnets in to soak. Seaweed helps prevent the seeds from damping off (or rotting). It’s best at this stage not to water overhead as it can drive the seeds out of the soil. It takes 15 minutes for them to fully soak in the bath.

Then I put them on a recycled washed-out meat tray because it fits this punnet size and onto the windowsill to get germinating. This should take around 3 weeks (maybe slightly more). Exciting!

From Jan, Rob and the Team at OEG!

9 Responses

  1. Wow, this is the most comprehensive lesson in planting. Great to see the step by step pictures. Thank you.

  2. It’s great to have someone planting in the same area as me! I’m so used to reading or watching American or British gardening blogs and youtube videos, and having to be 6 months ahead! I got my tomatoe seeds in last weekend. So a little later than you. But I don’t mind, we have such a long season here.

  3. Hi I’m a novice and failed terribly with growing seeds in punnets or jiffy pots so I put the tomato and capsicum seeds straight into the soil. Would it germinate? It’s being a week already but I don’t see any growth.

  4. Hi Janet We think it might be a bit of a struggle for the seeds in the soil at this time of the year when it’s still wet and cold, especially as you are in the South. Anyway you may well be rewarded – fingers crossed! Tips for getting seeds to germinate in a punnet: it’s best if they’re fresh or have been kept in the fridge; water them after sowing, and ideally during the growing period, with liquid seaweed added to your water, as this helps prevent the seeds from rotting in the soil; keep your punnets on a windowsill where there’s light and inside where there’s a reasonably consistent temperature – seeds don’t like going from warm during the day to cold at night; lastly, be patient – depending on what types you’ve sown, the quickest tomato takes around 10 days to germinate and the slowest around 3 weeks and the capsicums will also be slow. Best of luck and let us know how you get on 🙂

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