Every year, in late winter and spring, seed sellers receive complaints from customers saying that their tomato seeds won’t germinate.

And it isn’t surprising at all. Why?

Tomatoes, like chillies, need warm soil before the seeds will germinate. Tomatoes need a SOIL temperature of at least 18C 24 hours a day, chillies need it a bit warmer.

Now, it is important to point out that I said SOIL temperature. Just because you had a warm day today with plenty of sunshine doesn’t mean the soil temperature was 18C and above. And one or two sunny days in late winter and spring don’t guarantee a warm night. It is very common at this time of year for nights to be cold.

So Tip number 1 is don’t sow your tomato, or chilli, seeds into soil unless you can guarantee a minimum of 18C and above 24 hours a day.

How do you do that?

In winter and spring I germinate all my seeds using a heat mat. They are reasonably cheap and guarantee the soil temperature for the seeds.

Before you start worrying about the quality of seeds, ask yourself if your soil temperature is 18C and above. It is crucial!

Tip number 2 – don’t raise seeds in garden soil or potting mix. Potting mix especially is usually a poor quality and too lumpy and bumpy. I recommend that you start all seeds in a special seed raising mix. Either make your own or buy a specialist mix.

Tip number 3 – label all seeds that you sow. There is nothing worse than wondering what it was you planted two months ago. There are plenty of ways of doing this, but labelling is crucial, especially if you want to save your seeds for next season.

I hope those tips help you get started in growing your tomato seeds.

I will expand on this over the next few months.

Happy gardening.