Growing Tomatoes in Jiffy Pellets

Going from Tomato Seed to Seedling

tomatoes germinating in Jiffy pellets
Using a punnet for jiffy pellets

Tomato seeds need the right soil temperature in order to germinate successfully. The problem is that if we wait to grow from seed when the soil temperature is right, then the plant won't get a chance to grow tomatoes for us before it becomes too cold again. That is why most gardeners will plant seedlings that they have bought rather than growing from seed. But it's easy to do if we try to trick the seed into germinating before the soil outside is warm enough.

Sowing the seeds
Using Jiffy pellets makes it easy to sow the tomato seeds. Plant 2 seeds in each pellet. This is done for 'insurance', just in case one doesn't grow. Place the Jiffy pellet in a clear plastic punnet (eg strawberry punnet) and place it in a warm spot where it stays warm all the time. The top of the fridge might do if you have nowhere else.

Once they germinate or start to grow, you will need to move your new little seedling/s into the sunlight as soon as you see it growing. Leave it in the Jiffy pellet and take it to a sheltered position outside. If it is still very cold at night, you might bring them in and then take them back outside during the day. 

If both seeds have germinated, you will have to decide which one to remove. They will both compete for space and nutrients if both are allowed to continue to grow. Simply cut one off at the base of the stem.

Once they start to grow their 'true' leaves and you can start to see roots appearing through the Jiffy pellet, it is time for the tomato seedling to either go into another pot; or, if the soil is warm enough, it can get planted straight into the prepared soil. For tomatoes grown in Melbourne, this is generally by late October. Potting it up into a newspaper pot or other small pot with some decent potting mix will do until you wait for the right time to plant in the soil.

Protect the young seedlings from snails.

As they grow taller, you will need to provide some support. If they are growing against the fence you could tie the stems against the fence loosely. If they are growing in your vegie patch, you may need to provide a stake and loosely tie them to the stake. Tall growing or climbing varieties of tomatoes will need something to keep them from sprawling over the ground.

For more information about growing from seed, go to Success with Seeds. For any questions about your Jiffy pellet seed sowing, contact me for help.

For tips on growing tomatoes in your garden, go to Tasty and Trouble Free Tomatoes.