Words by Dr. Rich Ozminkowski
For nearly 100 years, HEINZ has been growing tomato varieties to develop redder, thicker tomatoes for their HEINZ Ketchup. Today, the HEINZ Tomato Experts will use that knowledge to walk through what you need the to grow tomatoes at home.
First, You Need To Identify Your Local “Frost Free” Date
The frost-free date is the average date when there is only a small chance of frost, and it varies by region. Since tomatoes don’t like the cold, you will begin growing your tomato seedlings indoors about 6 to 8 weeks before your local frost-free date. After the risk of frost has passed, you will transplant them outside in your garden or in pots on your patio.
The map below provides direction for the HEINZ Tomato Seedz plants:
Next, Identify Where You Will Grow Your Seedz and Gather Your Supplies
When you start your seedlings indoors, they need lots of bright light near a window or supplemental lighting in order to sprout. Once the plants are outdoors, they will need at least six hours of bright light each day. Make sure you have the right conditions for your plant before you start growing tomatoes.
To start the seeds, you will need the following equipment:
- Seeding container: small flowerpot (4-inch diameter) or a clean cell pack (see some examples below)
- Light-weight potting mix high in peat moss (like a seedling starter mix)
- Watering can
- Water-soluble fertilizer, preferably high phosphorus (the middle number is phosphorus) like a flower booster 15-30-15 to help build strong roots. If you can’t find that, a standard water-soluble fertilizer would also work.
Once you are ready to transplant outdoors you have two options, a container or in a garden.
If you are planting in a container, you need…
- At least a 16-inch pot (one for each tomato plant) with good drainage.
- A good quality outdoor potting mix (NOT what was used for starting the seeds)
If you are planting in the garden, you will need…
- To prepare the soil: when soil is dry enough to be worked, turnover 8 to 12 inches of soil with a garden spade to make a nice, level, weed-free growing area without a lot of soil clods.
- Tip: a small amount of manure or compost can help!
Ready to get started growing your own tomatoes? Check out our ‘Step-by-step guide to grow tomatoes at home according to the HEINZ Tomato Experts’ article here.