Over the years, I've always gotten the best germination rates from Burpee
seeds: www.burpee.com. My definition of "best" means I plant 12 seeds, and
11 grow. I've gotten less than wonderful results from Park, Thompson &
Morgan and Harris. There are lots of other seeds companies, but I haven't
As far as how you start things from scratch, I (and anyone else) would be
doing you a huge disservice by explaining it. You should go to the library,
find some books, and start reading. There are brief instructions on seed
packets, but there's no way they can be fully informative. If you want a
good book recommendation, especially for a beginner, go to www.powells.com,
and get a used copy of "Crockett's Victory Garden". Each chapter represents
one month of the growing season in Boston, and his advice is excellent.
Ignore what he says about chemicals, though. He went WAY overboard.
Mark--I used Tomato Growers Supply Company this year, and had awesome luck
with most of the seeds. We got what seemed like 125% germination. While I
know that isn't very likely, I suggest you check them out...and they have a
freebie with a very small dollar order.
Go buy plants this year, because it's too late to start from seed.
Between now and next February, go to the library and get a gardening
book and read up on how to start from seed. The reason, not all seed
get the same treatments.
BTW, for 3 or 4 plants, more than enough to feed the average family,
it's just as cheap to buy the 4 pack or the 6 pack plants.
You must be a person that has never grown his/her own tomatoes. Except
for the farmer market type stands, the crappy "tomatoes" that most
stores sell don't have anywhere near the flavor of home grown ones.
The usual litany about store bought tomatoes is that - unless you are
assured otherwise - those tomatoes are bred to be as hardy and tough as can
be such that they can withstand the kind of handling and processing the
backyard tomatoes cannot.
Do a web search on tomato seeds and you'll run across a number of vendors.
You'll be overwhelmed with the different varieties out there for the home
gardener. And unless you want to keep purchasing your seeds, opt for one of
the heirloom varieties. JoeSpareBedroom's comments apply to hybrids as well
as the store bought ones.
I picked thru all the tomatoes in the grocery store in February and
bought a few of the only ones that smelled like tomatoes. They were
orange, about the size of a baseball, and still had stems attached. The
red and the yellow tomatoes that otherwise looked just like them and the
"hothouse" tomatoes and the Romas all just smelled sort of like paper.
The orange tomatoes were actually pretty good, even in February, so I
saved some seeds. That's what I have growing in my garden right now,
and I don't even know yet if they are determinate or not. Whether they
turn out good or not, they will be fun -- and that's the important thing.
Um, well.... not exactly. Tomatoes almost always cross with themselves
and many folk save tomato seed without any regard for outcrossing.
They are occasionally cross pollintated by insects but are not
attractive to them. Nevertheless, Tomatoes will grow over 95%
true-to-type without any regard for outcrossers. They do have a
dormancy which requires a certain amount of decompositon to occur
before they will germinate. This means you have to remove the pulp
along with the seeds and soak it in water until a really gross mold is
growing on the surface. This will overcome the dormancy and the tomato
seed will then germinate.
Having said that, I have never heard of anyone who wanted to save seed
form grocery store varieties. Those type of varieties are usually
grown with harvesting and storage in mind, not flavor. Most gardeners
want somthing different and often save their own seed from fruit they
have grown themselves using the above method.
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