Growing tomatoes can be more than just a hobby; it can verge on an addiction, and there's a good reason for this.
A perfectly formed tomato, ripened on the vine, compares to nothing else for flavor and texture.
Once the addicted gardener perfects the method of producing them, they will be constantly fiddling to find new and even better ways of growing great tomatoes.
Seeding tomatoes should take place in March; don't bother seeding them too early because they'll just be spindly and weak by the time May rolls around and it's time to plant.
As tomato plants can't take any frost, there is no hurry to get them in the ground; they won't appreciate being stuck in the cold soil.
They will simply stall, and even though the stress will cause them to form fruit, it will be small and meager.
I usually have at least a few volunteers coming up in the compost pile - if your diet consists of Roma tomatoes like mine (oh, love that Greek salad!) then you might have a few heirloom type plants emerge without any help from you.
Pull the plants out of their pot - you will see the vigorous roots spiraling at the bottom of the root ball.
The roots are white and healthy looking; I would worry if they were brown, shriveled or not reaching for the moisture at the bottom of the soil.
Gently pull them apart...
...and then pull, pinch or cut off the seedling leaves; these are not necessary any more, now that the plants all have lots of other bigger leaves (see the green arrow).
The reason for pulling the lower leaves off will be evident soon.
Then pot up the seedling tomatoes. I use a big pot, because each time you disturb the plants it will set them back.
A mixture of compost, steer manure and sterilized potting soil is a good mix.
As you can see, the soil level is right below the top leaves, meaning the whole stem is now below the soil level; this is because unlike many other plants, tomatoes have the ability to make more roots from that part of the stem, giving them more roots to get nutrients.
Over the next few weeks as the plants grow, the lower leaves will again be pruned off, and the soil level topped up.
It won't be long before these puny little plants are producing flowers which will be pollinated and turn into fruit, and by September, they'll be busy ripening it for my salads. Can't wait!