Start tomato seeds inside at least 6 weeks before last frost (around 4/1). Ideal temperature for germination is 85° (use a heating mat). Days to germination: 5-14. Once leaves appear, grow plants at 72°. Plant seedlings outside late May into fertile garden soil (with lots of compost or decomposed manure) at a spacing of 18” apart. Stake tomato plants with a sturdy stake. Tomatoes are susceptible to several fungal diseases (including Early and Late Blight and Verticillium Wilt). To prevent blight, keep foliage dry by watering with drip irrigation/soaker hoses. Crop rotation is also key to preventing tomato diseases. Ideally, plant tomato plants in a spot that has not had any Solanaceae crops (tomato, peppers, eggplant, potatoes) growing there for 4 years.
Harvest when fruit are fully red ripe and soft when squeezed.
Tomatoes are relatively easy seed-saving crops. They are primarily self-pollinated but may be crossed pollinated by insects when different tomato varieties are planted next to one another. You can just save seed and see what you get! Isolation distance of 10ft will minimize crossing while 150’ is necessary to eliminate it. Always harvest seed from the best plants. It is best, but not totally necessary, to collect seeds from a minimum of 6 plants. Collect ripe tomatoes, let them ripen for a week in a paper bag, then cut and squeeze out seeds. See instructions for fermenting seeds. Rinse and dry seeds on a screen.