Tomatoes from seed.... do you winter sow them too?

bettylu_zone6aNovember 9, 2009

Can you really sow tomatoes from seed using the winter sowing method? Since they love the heat of the summer, I would have thought they would have to be sowed in the spring....

Also, I only have enough room in the sun for 4-6 plants and since it is only myself and my daughter... that is actually plenty. If I participate in Trudi's WONDERFUL tomato seed SASBE, I will have WAY TOO MANY seeds.

Still, I would love to try some of the cool varieties she has listed. Can the seeds be saved for a second year - will they still be viable? I sure don't want to waste any and since my quantity is so small, in the past, I have just purchased 4-packs of seedlings and given away my extras. They weren't any fun, unusual varieties though.



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Yes, you can WS tomato seeds--that's why I began giving them away ;-)

Tomato seeds last a very long time, viability drops about the fourth or fifth year, but you should still get some plants from an old pack of seeds--and from those plants you save seeds from their fruits to refresh your seed stock.


    Bookmark   November 9, 2009 at 4:11PM
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token28001(zone7b NC)

Sow them like you would other tender annuals. I sowed mine in early April here in zone 7 with a typical last frost of April 15-20.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2009 at 4:25PM
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disneynut1977(5b, Sunset zone 42)

Hi Bettylu,

I have alot of tomato seeds, OP and a few hybrids. I was gonna send my extra's I'm not using off to Trudi soon, but if you want I can send my list to you and LMK if you want anything. All I need is 1 unused stamp sent to me and I can send them back in a thank you card. I have never had a problem with tomato seeds going through the mail.


P.S. regarding your post. WS tomatoes are so much easier. I'm starting mine indoors this year though, due to that I'm only doing mid-late types, except for my SunGolds. Zone 5 only leaves so much time for ripening.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2009 at 4:53PM
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Thanks for the offer! I would take you up on it, but since Trudi replied that the seeds would stay viable for a few years, I went ahead and filled out her form for requesting tomato seeds and mailed it today. I am going to grow some for my sister, my daughters, and friends too, so they won't go to waste!

I am really looking forward to trying some new varieties grown from seed. Last spring I actually had some "volunteer" tomatoes come up unexpectedly and it was actually VERY FUNNY because I couldn't figure out where the tomato plants were coming from in all my hanging baskets, etc LOL

Apparently I had tossed frost-killed tomatoes in my compost pile and they broke down over the winter and I forgot about them until they started growing EVERYWHERE, but unfortunately they didn't have the flavor of the parent plants - which won't happen with the heirloom varieties, I believe.


    Bookmark   November 10, 2009 at 5:34PM
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stlgirl(6a MO)

Hi Betty,

I too was surprised when I first learned one can WS tomatoes. I did some Sungolds last year and had a couple ripe tomatoes before July 4th. Trudi has lots of info on her site as to how to WS tomatoes. I find it way easier than growing under lights and transplanting. If you want some ripe tomatoes earlier in the season be sure to select a variety that has an earlier DTM date.


Here is a link that might be useful: winter sow tomatoes

    Bookmark   November 10, 2009 at 5:42PM
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Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

Maybe you can WS tomatoes where springs get hot fast, but you sure can't in the Pacific Northwest, because they don't sprout until mid-July!

If the soil in your containers doesn't reach 75-78F fast, your seeds won't sprout until it does. That's July, here, and that means we would get plants, but no ripe tomatoes before the frost zaps them.

There is a difference between if you CAN sprout certain species using WSing methods, and if you SHOULD do it that way. I use WS for many, many things, but not for tropical types that need heat to sprout and need a relatively long growing season.

Your best bet may be to start a few plants indoors so you can plant them out when the soil warms up, and try WSing a few more. Then you'll know if it's a viable method for your area.


    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 1:35AM
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I agree with belgianpup about wintersowing tomatoes in the PNW. We just don't warm up fast enough for tomatoes and peppers so they are the ONLY things I use a heat mat to start. I move them off the mat and into the cold frame as soon as possible, so they still are very hardy plants. I have tried wintersowing them, and while they sprout okay in May or June, we don't have the "heat" days to mature them before the first frost. I did get lots and lots of little green tomatoes though.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2009 at 2:20AM
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