Sowing My Tomatoes

It’s time to dig out my heated propagator and start sowing some of the more delicate plants, like Tomatoes and Chilli Pepper in order to give them the best chance possible to get big and strong before I plant the out in early Summer. Tomatoes and Chillis in particular need the longest growing season I can possibly give them. So as soon as the light levels started to increase I decided to start sowing.

I find it quite useful to use a wooden stirring stick (donated by Starbucks) to cover my seeds with compost. They’re smaller than a dibber and are perfect for close work like sowing seeds.

Then I always make sure to water the seeds from below, rather than above so as not to dislodge the seeds.

I must admit I’m not a big fan of heated propagators. They do their job alright but they’re so ugly! I really don’t want something that ugly on my kitchen windowsill. Plus, no matter what I do, the condensation always leaks out. So the whole thing ends up sitting in a pool of water most of the time :(

Does anyone have a better looking one than the bog-standard black plastic tray with clear plastic lid?

18 Comments on “Sowing My Tomatoes

  1. Hi, I’ve never used a heated propagator sorry, I just have a non-heated one on the bathroom windowsill just above the radiator which seems to do the trick.

  2. I’m with Damo and put mine on a deep windowsill above a radiator but then I am a bit twitched about weaning them off the radiator.

  3. There does seem to be a real lack of attractive propagators on the market. I guess you could get a heating mat and design your own more attractive looking one.

    What type of chilli peppers are you growing?

  4. I use a Super 7 propagator. It’s ideal for windowsills, and includes seven small seed trays. It doesn’t have a heat control, but it’s always worked fine for me. I sowed my tomato seeds a few weeks ago They’ve now been moved to a plastic mini greenhouse which is inside my main greenhouse, just to give some added protection as my greenhouse isn’t heated.

  5. I have an old one which l use in my shed so aesthetics don’t come into it but l do wonder how they raised seeds years ago without a heated propagator or above a radiator. I am looking into it but it was probably that they were raised on a sunny window sill in trays. Germination then depended on how much sun came through that window! We forget sometimes how lucky we are to have this technology……

  6. I have a small heated propogator which I leave on a large windowsill in the spare room. It does not look very pretty but does the job. I bought it from Asda some years ago. I remove the tray of seedlings as soon as they emerge ready for pricking out to individual pots.
    I was very interested to see your photo of your method of using one tray with rows of different seeds. Much better than my system of trying to fit several trays into the propogator all at once. Much more organised.
    I am also very envious of your extremely smart nails. How to you keep them looking so good.

  7. Do try Garland’s Jiffy 7 Electric Windowsill Propagator
    I have been really pleased with results and have used one for
    several years. Looks nice and neat too.

  8. Emma…l tried sowing different seeds in the same tray earlier this year and the problem is some seeds germinated earlier than the others! I tried to transplant the ones that had but it caused a lot of disturbance to the compost and in the end i vowed never to do it again. Much easier to sow the same seeds in the same tray!

  9. My seeds are on a south-facing window sill 15 floors up and get oodles of sunshine. I took the plastic lid off the propagators because of the condensation, and also thought that they might get too hot in there. But now I’m thinking I may need to put the lids back on as it helps retain humidity, and some of the seedlings are looking a bit frazzled with the heat of the sun.
    My propagator trays are green which is nicer than the standard black, but they are still not the most aesthetic of items! Condensation is a real problem each time you remove the lid, and they’re sat on sheets of packing paper to absorb the run-off, which adds to the unattractiveness. Still, it’s not for long… (that’s what I tell my partner anyway!).

  10. Fairly new to this great site so hi everyone! I’ve recently bought myself a 4 tier mini greenhouse and a small electric greenhouse heater for about £15. All this I put in my conservatory and for a short spell used the heater to give everything a boost during the daytime. It’s been my most successful start to growing and the heater only needed to be on a low setting to get the environment up to 20+ degrees so hopefully not too expensive on leccy! Cucumbers pepper and chillis all up nicely, as are some flower seeds especially dahlias. I’ve moved the greenhouse outside though as my wife is fed up of the compost smell (I love it!!) so I hope they cope okay – on a beautiful day like today it’s already 20 C but the evenings are still a bit chilly. Time will tell!
    PS Used vital earth peat free seed compost for the first time and it is lovely stuff.

  11. The Super 7 does look tempting. It’s got a drip tray and everything!

  12. I love my Vitopod electric propagator, best piece of kit I got last year. You can set the heat (vital really) and it has sensible vents on the sides and top.
    It’s not cheap, but if gardening is your hobby, it is an investment worth making. It has a black tray, but the top is perspex, so not offensive at all, and you get to see your seedlings growing.
    I also got a heated mat for the greenhouse which I move seedlings on to once germinated. Love that too.

  13. I’ve always just left them on a sunny window sill – you just need to make sure that you catch them before they burst forth and get really leggy with the sun.

  14. I usually start them off in the airing cupboard; I tried one pot on the kitchen radiator this year, but the airing cupboard pots are doing far better.

  15. My lovely Mummy came round with a present last night, and in made me remember this entry. It was a propogator, not heated, but definitely the nicest I’ve seen. It looks like a galvanised metal old-fashioned US lunchbox, with 6 glass panes on the domed lid and open/shutable airvents on the sides. I wouldn’t want to use it when it really starts heating up – I don’t want the seedlings to fry in the metal, but it’s perfect on my windowsill at the moment when it’s still a bit chilled! Much prettier than the various milk pots, litter trays, plantable pots etc that I have on all the other windowsills!

  16. Clearly there is a market out there for more attractive seed starting equipment. Since you always seem to have beautifully manicured nails, I think you have what it takes to design something great. Why not give it a shot and watch the money tumble in?