For temperate climates, you need to pot up seedlings and wait for frost to pass. If you wait until the weather is warm enough to plant out before you start your seeds, you will have less time for them to mature and fruit, before cold weather arrives again.
Either save your own seed or source it from reliable suppliers. There are nearly 500 heirloom tomato cultivars available from about 25 mail order seed sellers in Australia. You are much better buying from seed companies, than from sellers on eBay, gumtree or similar.
Also, it’s illegal to bring tomato seeds in from overseas, so don’t be tempted to buy from an overseas company, or ask a relative to send you seeds of their favourite tomato. At best you’ll lose the seeds, at worst you might be prosecuted.
When planting in August and September in warmer regions, just place your planted seed trays in a sheltered, warm position outside. In temperate regions, seeds and seedlings need to be kept warm if they are going grow and thrive.
You can do lots of things to keep your tomatoes warm, such as:
• create a mini greenhouse using a polystyrene box and a small glass window or plastic over the top. Alternatively, buy a mini greenhouse;
• find a sunny window sill;
• put your punnets on top of the water heater or buy a seed-raising heat mat.
issue 119 of ABC Organic Gardener Magazine has a full feature on growing heirloom tomatoes or you can have a look at these features online.
By: Penny Woodward
First published: July 2020