There is something very rewarding about growing and propagating your own tomatoes. So why would you want to propagate your own tomatoes? Each seed grown into a mature plant has its unique traits, even within the same cultivar. The avid gardener has the opportunity of creating a more personalised veggie garden based on the specific phenotypes they prefer. This is generally the flavour, yield and/or aesthetics of the fruit, and by propagating their most favoured plant they can have more of what they prefer each season.
You will need:
- Tomato seeds* (we use heirloom seeds, see note below)
- Small pots
- Seedling mix
- Hormone powder
- Scalpel / sharp knife
Why heirloom seeds?
Heirloom seed varieties are seeds that are selected more naturally as they would be in nature. When planting heirloom seeds you can expect more unusual and varying plants and fruits. Commercial crops are generally chosen for reasons such as their consistent yields, vigorous growth, ease of picking, and extended shelf life. On the other hand heirloom crops can offer greater and more unique flavours, but potentially lower yield, shorter shelf life and in some instances slower growth.
Here are our simple steps to propagating your own tomatoes:
- Sprout 5 tomato seeds to seedling size, transplant into pots. Ensure soil is moistened each day & keep out of direct sunlight.
- When young plants start to make side shoots from the stem it’s time to make your cuttings, fill your 5 small pots with your seedling mix & wet the soil sufficiently.
- With your scalpel cut off shoot at a slanting angle from the stem. The slant cut increases surface area of the exposed shoot.
- Dip the surface area of the shoot base in hormone powder. Your tomato plant should also root without hormone powder, but it may take longer.
- Place hormone dipped shoots in prepared pots & label variety.
- All pots should be placed in a shady area under a clear plastic storage container or a 50%+ shade net, creating a high humidity environment.
- Pot soil should be kept moist at all times.
- Plants should take root within 2-3 weeks.
- At this stage or earlier your mother bushes will be producing tomatoes. Choose your most favoured plants from these 5 based on flavour, yield and plant quality.
- Identify the identical propagated seedling/s, and keep them aside. You may now dispose of the other plants.
You can see this process as building your own hand selected ‘plant library’, for using the following season.