Couple indoor tomato seed questions


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This year will be my second attempt at starting tomato seeds indoors.
Last year I started far too early. It just went bad and had a bit of a break down.
I put too much pressure on myself to get things perfect.
Needless to say I was bummed out, considering how much time I spent reading on the subject of gardening.
Seeing how fast tomato plants grow in ideal conditions, do tomato seeds have to be planted 6 weeks before last frost. Can I do 3 or 4 weeks?
Lastly rather than starting seeds in small cells, can I put seeds in larger cups at the very beginning. Then I don't have to worry about transferring to another container. Avoids having to handle them unnecessarily.
Btw I live in zone 4-Minnesota
Thanks
 
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This will answer most of your concerns.

http://www.durgan.org/URL/?SKZXL 23 January 2015 Planting seeds
This is my general procedure for starting seeds. The plastic cups have holes in the sides made with a soldering iron for drainage and to make a small reservoir for holding water. The cups are filled with my home seedling soil made in the Summer. The seeds will eventually be planted in their own cup. This batch is to test germination of last year’s tomato seeds. The plastic covers are to keep humidity high until germination. The cups are placed in a container, since my preference is for bottom watering. Since it is cold in my Zone 5, the container is placed on a heating mat.The small greenhouse is to give max light for growth, until the selected plants are placed in the outdoor garden about 24 of May.
 
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This year will be my second attempt at starting tomato seeds indoors.
Last year I started far too early. It just went bad and had a bit of a break down.
I put too much pressure on myself to get things perfect.
Needless to say I was bummed out, considering how much time I spent reading on the subject of gardening.
Seeing how fast tomato plants grow in ideal conditions, do tomato seeds have to be planted 6 weeks before last frost. Can I do 3 or 4 weeks?
Lastly rather than starting seeds in small cells, can I put seeds in larger cups at the very beginning. Then I don't have to worry about transferring to another container. Avoids having to handle them unnecessarily.
Btw I live in zone 4-Minnesota
Thanks
It would be a great help if we knew where you are. Different climates mean different growing conditions and different varieties. Having said that, there are no rules. IF, AND IF, you can protect and give the seedlings adequate HEAT and SUNLIGHT the earlier you plant the seeds the better off you will be because the more mature the plants are when you plant them into the ground the sooner you will produce fruit and produce for a longer period, with the exception of determinate plants which will only produce earlier, NOT LONGER. Having large transplants is a good thing, but, if the soil temperature is to cold when you transplant into the ground it will stunt their growth and you will have lost the advantage. When transplanting, the soil temp should be a minimum of 62F preferably higher. Depending on the soil temperature of your planted seeds they should sprout between 4-9 days if the temperature is about 85F. Planting seeds in large cells is my preferred way to grow tomato seedlings, but, it requires repotting. I repot mine when the seedling have one good set of true leaves. I always give them all of the sun or other light available, a minimum of 6 hours of direct sun or its alternative. It may take another re-potting before transplanting into the garden. Now, having tried to explain the seedling growing process the biggest failure when one grows from seed is a disease called Damping Off. This is where the base of the seedling where it meets the soil either flattens or shrivels and the seedling falls over and dies. This usually happens before the first set of true leaves but not always. This disease is caused by a fungus present in most soils. If you sprinkle whole ground cornmeal or cinnamon around the base of the plant it will stop this fungus. Once the plant has 2 sets of true leaves this disease is usually not a problem.
 
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Here in the UK, I start my seeds anywhere between start Feb and end March, depending upon whether they'll be greenhouse or outdoor grown, and whether they're determinate or indeterminate.
I start mine in organic multipurpose compost which has been through a fine riddle, in seed trays, which fit two per heated propagator, as this gives me the steady warmth that the seeds seem to like.
I dose the compost with mycorrhizal fungi at this stage.
I prick out and pot on to 3" pots as soon as I see the first true leaf forming, and it really is just a speck then.
I find that works for me, although I do sometimes have to further pot on to 5" pots, depending on the spring weather, prior to final placement, especially with my "spare" plants, which I try to find a home for, outside.
I am not a fan of watering from underneath, as, by this method, the bottom of the growing media has to be soaked before the top gets damp, and that has drainage repercussions.
Cucumber seeds in particular like just a moistening, with immediate drainage, to avoid the seeds rotting.
 
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Seeing how fast tomato plants grow in ideal conditions, do tomato seeds have to be planted 6 weeks before last frost. Can I do 3 or 4 weeks?
Yes, there's a good chance they'll catch up completely, or at worst, be a week behind.
Whether you have a good or poor spring is likely to make as much difference.
 
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I'm sorry if I have no contribution to this thread. Let me just say that tomato is a delicate plant and sometimes it wouldn't bear flowers if you had neglected it. We sometimes have tomatoes in our backyard and our only problem are the aphids that inhabit the leaves underneath. I was wishing to have a small greenhouse so it can be protected especially when the rains some. Keep us posted when your indoor tomatoes start bearing fruits.
 
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Durgan, what is your plan after the plant gets too tall for your current configuration? I'm guessing you still have a ways to go before planting outside. I started my seeds around the same time as you; I will plant some plants outdoors in early March, but keep backups on standby soaking up southern sun on my window seat to replace them in case it gets cold. By April 1, I will be fully engaged outdoors. "Fully engaged" seems like military-speak (been watching a WWI documentary), but gardening is a form of trench warfare, isn't it?
 

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