Free Seed Program

This program is closed for the 2020 season.


Welcome to the Dubuque County Extension Free Seed Program

Program Goal

The goal of this program is to educate gardeners throughout the 2020 season about growing tomatoes from free seed.  By the end of the summer, you will hopefully have raised your own crop of fresh garden tomatoes from the program components listed below.

Program components

Seeds - Once registered, you will receive your own set of free tomato seeds in the mail shortly after April 6.  We will send you 5 seeds each of an heirloom tomato, and a hybrid tomato.
InformationThroughout the summer we will send you growing information via email every two to three weeks on the next steps you can take to grow your tomatoes.  Emails will contain tips, photos and YouTube videos demonstrating concepts on growing tomatoes. 
You can choose to receive your growing information via U.S. mail, however accessing important Youtube videos will be more difficult.  To receive your growing information via the U.S. Mail, you will need to register for this program by either calling the office or picking up a seed packet.  The online registration does not offer this option.  Details are below.
Your RewardBy the middle to end of the 2020 growing season, you will hopefully have grown your very own crop of fresh garden tomatoes.  From here you can choose to preserve them, cook with them, eat them fresh, or share them with friends.  It's your crop and you should be proud of it!  You will also have learned a few things about tomatoes such as:

  • seed starting
  • transplanting
  • mulching
  • trellising
  • nutrition
  • diseases
  • picking

How to Participate

Registration can be done one of three ways.

  • Online via the Iowa State University Extension system by typing in or clicking this link:
  • Calling the Dubuque County Extension Office at (563) 583-6496. (Our office is closed as of 3/18/2020, please leave a voicemail and we will get back within 24 bussiness hours.)
  • Picking up a "Dubuque County Extension Free Tomato Seed Progarm" packet at one of the locations mentioned below and completing the postcard inside the packet.  Seed packet locations include:
  • Dyersville Ace Hardware
  • Dyersville Theisens
  • Dubuque Salvation Army
  • Convivium Urban Farmstead
  • Any Dubuque County Library location in Asbury, Epworth, Farley, Holy Cross, or Peosta

Program Deadline

The deadline to register for this program is April 3, 2020.

Program Timeline

The following is the planned program timeline for what you can expect your growing season to look like.  You will be growing right along with Ray Kruse who is the program coordinator and your tomato growing mentor.

  • April 3 - Deadline to sign up
  • April 6 - Seeds will be mailed to participants
  • April 6 - August 31 emails will be sent out throughout the season on planting tomatoes, transplanting, mulching, fertilizing, trellising, insects, diseases, and picking.  The following are the approximate dates when these activities will need to be done and if you choose to practice them in your garden.
  1. April 6 - Source your seed starting materials 
  2. April 14 - Plant your seeds
  3. May 20 - Transplant seedlings and mulch them
  4. May 30 - Trellis your tomatoes and fertilize them
  5. June 1 - July 30 - Weed your tomatoes
  6. August 10 - Start enjoying your tomatoes
  7. September 12 - Conclude your season

We hope that you can join us in the fun of growing tomatoes throughout the 2020 growing seaon.  If you have any questions,  feel free to contact Ray Kruse at the Dubuque County Extension office at or by calling the office at (563) 583-6496.  

This program is generously sponsored by the Dubuque County Master Gardeners.

Page updated by Ray Kruse on 4/15/2020.

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