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How to Plant Tomatoes – Sprouting seeds

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I’ve never helped with my Mom’s garden start to finish so I’m soo excited to make my thumb greener! I’m attempting to follow the process this year – start to finish. Here’s a look at planting tomatoes. Let me just say, Mom’s tomatoes are incredible. I especially love the “Bull’s Heart tomatoes” – she went to Ukraine to get the seeds! They are rare Russian heirloom tomatoes and are amazing – like no other I’ve ever tried – nothing is even a close second to these. I’ve been hinting at my mom to maybe sell her seeds. 

Start planting your tomatoes now! This articles shows how to get them sprouting and the first steps of planting sprouted seeds. I’ll be posting more on planting tomatoes as my parents make updates. I’d like to have the whole process on one sheet, but those of you who want to plant tomatoes this year, probably don’t want to wait till August to start! 🙂

1. Scrape or squeeze seeds from your best ripened tomatoes – let them sit in some of their tomato juice for 4 to 5 days. They will start looking white/moldy. Place the seeds in a larger container – fill with water. The seeds will sink to the bottom, drain the water and repeat a couple of times until seeds are clean. Place seeds on a paper towel (NOT in the sun). Let seeds dry out completely and store them until planting season.

for planting in Idaho:
If you are planting tomatoes in a greenhouse, sprout seeds in End of February and you can plant your tomatoes in the greenhouse Mid-April.
If you a planting out in the open, sprout seeds in End of March or early April, so you can plant your tomatoes in the ground in Mid-May (dates will vary based on whether the winter is lasting longer).

Day 1: wrap tomato seeds in very wet cotton cloth. Place them in the sun.
Day 2: put paper towel over the wet cloth to soak up excess moisture.
Keep them moist until they sprout.

As soon as the seeds have sprouted, fill a container 3/4 full with potting soil, spread sprouted seeds over the top and cover seeds with potting soil. Lightly water. Keep the pot in a sunny area and keep the seedlings lightly moist.

Once each seedling grows 4 to 6 leaves, they can are replanted into individual 2 cup planters (poke holes in the bottom of planters for drainage).

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Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

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  • Your style is so unique compared to other people I have read stuff
    from. Many thanks for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I’ll
    just bookmark this blog. Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      June 10, 2017

      I appreciate the great compliment! Thanks for following!! 🙂 Reply

  • Tom
    March 24, 2017

    These seeds seem like they would be something Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds would be interested in if your mom doesn’t want to go through selling them herself. Preserving heirlooms is so important! Reply

    • Natasha
      March 24, 2017

      Hi Tom, I don’t think she’s interested in selling them but I do agree – it is important to preserve them and she always picks the seeds out of her very best ripened tomatoes for the following year. Reply

  • Avera
    September 10, 2012

    Hi Natasha, do you know if there is a benefit from leaving the tomato seeds to soak in their juices for a few days before drying them? Just curious, since we’ve never done that before. And also, is this done on all other fruits or vegetables? Lets say, for example, zuccinni, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, etc… Reply

    • Natasha
      September 23, 2012

      Avera, thanks for your input on this. I’m including the info you shared in your email to me about tomato seeds. Bravo on the great research. I appreciate it!
      “I actually did some research and discovered that the reason we let the tomato seeds mold is so that they lose the protective film covering the seeds. The mold kinda eats away at the protective film, so all you’re left with is the seed itself, which is what we need. The reason they have the protective film covering the seed is so the seed doesnt germinate inside the tomato. I had no idea… lol. If I were to just dry the seeds without doing the molding process, my seeds wouldnt germinate in the spring, cuz they have that protective coating. I have never harvested tomato seeds before… This is my first year, so I’m still learning. 🙂 We usually just bought all our seeds.” Thanks again Avera!! 🙂 Reply

  • April 15, 2011

    Bulls’ Heart tomatoes are my favourite!! You can rarely buy them here at the farmer’s market. How do you find the time for cooking AND gardening?! I haven’t had the time for anything lately… our baby has started to crawl and get up on her feet so she requires tons of attention.
    Thank you for adding our blog to your blogroll, I’ve added yours too! ^_^ Reply

    • Natasha
      April 15, 2011

      Hi Alina – it’s my parents who are doing all the leg work. I’m just taking the pictures for now 🙂 I remember that crawling and pulling up stage – you really can’t get anything done then. 🙂 Reply

  • Galina
    April 6, 2011

    How long does it take for the seeds to sprout? I put them in a wet cloth in the sun today. Reply

  • Irina
    March 31, 2011

    Natasha do you know if they have something similar to “бычье сердце ” here in USA, when we were back in Belarus we used to grow them, they are so good, so meaty 😉 Reply

  • Marina
    March 30, 2011

    I, too, would love to get some of your momma’s seeds! I started gardening last year and find that I really enjoy it, even though I vowed “never to have a garden when I get married” because my parents had a large one every summer and I had to help weed and water it every day. Anyway, I’m always on the lookout for new heirloom seeds, especially ones from Ukraine! Homegrown veggies don’t come close to store bought, tomatoes especially. Cherry tomatoes usually never make it into the house, between my two kids and I, we pick them off the vine and they go straight into our mouths! Delish! Thank you for this article, I’m always looking for new tips and tricks on how to plant. I didn’t know how to gather seeds from tomatoes, thank you for teaching me:) Blessings to you and your family! Reply

    • Natasha
      March 30, 2011

      I’ll start bugging my mom to consider selling her seeds. There seems to be some interest for them 🙂 – I do know they are difficult to seed because each of the heart tomatoes has like 10 seeds in it (they don’t juice out like normal tomatoes, but they are still incredibly tender and juicy) – they are awesome for sandwiches and salads because they don’t lose their juice. Reply

  • Lydia Cottrell
    March 30, 2011

    I would love to maybe buy Ukrainian seeds from your mom! I am trying to be a gardner, but think I would be more motivated if I had seeds from the country of my heritage and heart. Let me know if it is a possibility! On another note, I have been encouraged by a high school friend of my daughter’s who is doing a history report on the Ukrainian Holodomor of 1932 and 1933. I was able to give her lots of information; seems like more people are recognizing this tragic part of Ukraine’s history. Reply

  • March 30, 2011

    Wow, I’m so proud of you! This sounds like a lot of work for tomatoes when you can just go to the store to get some, but I’m sure these are better and more rewarding in so many ways. It will be fun to see your little tomatoes progress and grow up and get married. Just kidding. Grow up and get eaten.

    Next up.. canning tomatoes? 🙂 Reply

    • Natasha
      March 30, 2011

      I look forward to my Mom’s tomatoes every year. Her tomatoes are nothing like the rubbery ones sold in stores. Everyone should have access to home grown tomatoes at least via a farmers market. Nothing like picking all fresh ingredients for salsa and making it that day. Yeah, it will be nice to see what careers they choose 🙂 Reply

  • Natalia K
    March 29, 2011

    Thanks for describing everything in such detail. Hopefully it’ll help me as I get started on the process this weekend. I’ve very slowly been practicing my gardening skills since planting a little raised vegetable garden at the side of the house 6 years ago (which has expanded to the unused land behind our house), but this is the first year I plan to try sprouting seeds (well, I planned to do it last year too, but somehow early spring got away from me :)).

    In case you or anyone else is interested, I used a handy little online gardening calendar where you just input the latest spring frost for your area, and it spits out sowing and planting dates for all types of veggies. Reply

    • Natasha
      March 29, 2011

      Ooh, thanks for sharing the link. I’m sure it will be handy. Eventually I’ll have to plant my own garden or help more with my Mom’s garden so I’m really excited to learn and bloggiing it this way will hold me accountable to it. Reply

      • Natalia K
        March 30, 2011

        Yeah, I should clarify that although the little raised garden was solely mine and Yury’s effort, the large garden behind the house has mostly been tended by Yury, his parents, and my parents with a few contributions from myself. I def plan to be more involved this year so I can grow some stuff that no one else seems to be interested in :). Good for you for putting in the effort to help with and learn from your parents’ garden. Looking forward to more garden posts! Reply

  • Margo
    March 29, 2011

    Thanks for the reminder- I bought a bunch of seeds a few months ago, and forgot about them! I ordered ‘Siberian’ tomatoes as well as ‘Russian’ tomatoes, in the hopes that they will be a short-season variety that will ripen fast enough for our elevation, and with a truly good flavor. I would buy some of your mother’s seeds to see how they compare… Reply

  • Nella
    March 29, 2011

    Do you have tomatoes that she recommends, (that you can buy seeds here in US 🙂 ? Reply

    • Natasha
      March 30, 2011

      She bought her other heirloom tomatoes seeds at either Lowes or Home Depot and those are very good also (but still nothing like the beef heart). She couldn’t remember exactly which store it was. Reply

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