Tomato Seeds - Homestead OPEN POLLINATED
"Homestead" Tomato Seeds - Tomatoes Homestead:
A cousin of the “Floradade”, the Homestead Tomato is another variety that is particularly well suited to warm and humid environments. However, the Homestead is also very successfully grown by home vegetable gardeners and commercial growers throughout more temperate regions of the United States. Plant Homestead Tomato seeds and enjoy a delicious and bountiful feast.
- Fast Facts
- Planting Info
Name: "Homestead" Tomatoes Botanical Name: Lycopersicon esculentum Other Common Name(s): "Homestead 24" Tomatoes Color: Red Size: 12 to 14 Oz Days to Maturity / Harvest: 80 Days, Semi-Determinate Sun / Shade: Sun Hardiness Zones: All (Thrives in heat & humidity) Ships: Year-Round Fruit Bearing: Semi-Determinate
Tomato Seed Planting Instructions
1- Start with one (or more) of Eden Brothers’ quality tomato seed varieties. Our superior seeds will ensure the highest possible germination rate!
2- Choose a commercially prepared seed starting mix. These mixes usually contain a mixture of peat moss, vermiculite and perlite, and some gardeners even make their own homemade mixtures. Make sure that your mix does not have a high fertilizer content; this can actually be a detriment to your tomatoes! Garden soil should be avoided too as it can compact too easily and be contaminated with harmful, disease ridden organisms.
Prepare your seed starting mix by combining it with warm water to make it arable. You might find that your mix can be difficult to wet, especially if it was a completely dry mix. Some gardeners let their mixes sit overnight to ensure that the water is evenly distributed. The final consistency should be damp and sponge-like. It should not feel soggy or water-logged.
3- Germinate your tomato seeds in the container of your choosing. Tomato seeds will germinate in any container as long as excess water can drain, and they are given enough moisture and warmth. Many nurseries and home gardeners use growing “flats” with different sized plastic cell inserts.
Fill your container with moist seed starting mix and plant the seeds 1/8th inch (3mm) deep. At this stage, it is okay to plant many seeds close together as seedlings will later be transplanted. If you are using a used container, it is best to sterilize them with a 10% bleach solution.
Place germination containers out of direct sunlight in a warm location. Although light is not needed in the germination process, it is not harmful as long as high temperatures are avoided. It only takes 5 to 10 days for tomato seeds to germinate if they are kept in their optimum temperature range for 70 to 80F (21 to 27C). Lower temperatures delay germination and higher temperatures accelerate it. Extreme temperatures, below 50F (10C) or above 95F (35C) are damaging to germination.
**Recommended tip: Cover the germination containers with a plastic bag or sheet of plastic. This will help preserve moisture, but you must ensure that air can circulate and the mix does not dry out.
4- Monitor your germination containers regularly. When the first seedlings emerge from the soil, they need to be moved into bright light. Tomato seedlings immediately begin reaching for light. If the light is not adequate, they will grow undesirable 3-inch-long stems (8 cm long) right after germination. If this occurs, you can try to transplant to a deeper container, but you might have to start over!
A heated greenhouse is the ideal location for seedlings to continue their development. Another good choice is a cold frame (preferably with supplemental heat for cool nights). While some home gardeners use south-facing windows, most agree that an easier option is to use fluorescent shop lights. (Note: If fluorescent shop lights are used, the lights must be placed within inches of the leaves of the plant.) Tomato seedlings need lights for 16 to 18 hours per day, and they grow best at a temperature of 65F (18C) with some air circulation. In fact, you can turn a fan on your tomato plants for 5-10 minutes, two times a day. Moving and swaying in the breeze help your plants develop strong stems and prevent them from becoming “leggy”.
Most growers agree that the best way to water tomato seedlings is to soak the mix then let it get nearly dry before the next watering.
5- Notice when the plants develop their first true leaves. Once these leaves appear, transplant the plants into their own, approximately 4 inch, container that drains well. This re-potting step is important as it helps the plant develop a strong root system. Do not be afraid to set the plants deeply, all the way up to their top leaves, into their new containers as tomatoes are able to develop roots all along their stems.
Depending upon the seed starting mixed you chose, you might need to provide your tomato seedlings with supplemental fertilizer. If so, fertilize minimally with a weak, diluted solution.
Evaluate your container size and your growing conditions. If necessary, repot your tomato plants a second or third time to keep them from becoming rootbound. The tomato plants still require good lighting; ensure they receive plenty of sunlight. If that is not possible, fluorescent lights or high-intensity grow lamps in combination with sunlight are the next best choice.
6- Remember, it is difficult to keep large tomato plants under artificial lights. To avoid this, do not start too early! It is important to plan your seed start date so that your transplants are at a reasonable size at the same time the outdoor temperature becomes suitable for garden planting.
Determine when your tomato seedlings be started in your garden. Outdoor planting is best done 1 to 2 weeks after the average date of the last frost for your region. Consult with your friends, county extension agent or online to decide on your start date. Novice gardeners often start their tomatoes too early. Remember, it only takes 6 to 8 weeks for tomato plants to reach maturity, so if in doubt, err on the side of caution and transplant them outdoors later rather than too soon!
Slowly introduce your tomato plants to outdoor conditions. This process is called “hardening off.” If you fail to harden off your plants, they may become shocked and temporarily cease to grow! When you first move them outside, avoid full sun and wind. The longer they remain indoors, the harder it is for tomato plants to acclimate to the outdoors. Cold frames provide another way to harden off tomato plants. Keep the covers in place during inclement weather and remove the covers on moderate days. Some gardeners build temporary structures from plastic sheeting, and others use buildings and fences to provide sun and wind protection while the tomato plants are adapting.
Freezing temperatures will kill plants quickly. Bring your tomato plants back inside if the forecasted weather is expected to drop below 40F (4C).
7- Transplant hardened off plants to their final outdoor growing location or into a large growing container! Master gardeners know that tomatoes love heat, and some of them preheat their soil by covering the planting area with plastic two weeks before they intend to plant. This will warm the soil be a few degrees and cause the plants to produce tomatoes earlier! Most also agree that any early blossoms should be plucked off prior to transplanting.
Tomatoes should be transplanted deeply. Fifty to seventy-five percent of the plant should be buried. It is okay to bury some of the lower leaves too. Space the plants 18 to 36 inches (45 to 90cm); this is the recommended distance for plants allowed to bush out on the ground. If you live in a warmer climate or are using tomato cages, you may space them half the suggested distance. This closer distance allows caged tomato plants to shade each other’s fruit and helps prevent burning—giving you a sweeter flavor!
Each plant will need about a gallon (4 liters) of warm water (80F/27C) within 10 minutes of transplanting. This helps avoid transplant shock. In the first 7 to 10 days after transplanting, give each tomato plant about 16 ounces (500ml) of water every day. Drip or soaker hoses are better than overhead hoses which can encourage diseases. After 10 days, water 2 to 3 times a week, and give each plant receives 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.6 cm)/2 gallons (7.5 liters) of water weekly. Use common sense, if you live in a hot or dry climate, you will need to give more water more often!
**Recommended tip: Do not overwater! Keeping the soil soggy will smother and kill the roots and can cause stem fungus—especially when it is really hot!
8- Mulch your tomato plants a week or two after transplanting to your garden. A good mulch will consist of straw, dried grass and/or pine needles to control weeds and help the soil preserve its moisture during dry weather. Your mulch should be an inch (2.5cm) thick and surround each plant stem by at least 12 inches (30 cm) circle. Pine needles can help raise the acidity of your soil.
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