How to Grow Tomatoes from Seed

Tomatoes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. It is also the most popular. Learn how to grow tomatoes from seed with this easy step by step tutorial.

Bunch of tomatoes grown from seed.

Have you ever wondered how to grow tomatoes from seeds?  Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable to grow in any type of garden.

You can grow tomatoes for their size from small cherry tomatoes to large Beefsteak tomatoes. People also grow them for their color and love the taste of the yellow pear or the multicolored Heirloom tomatoes. When choosing to grow from seed, you have a wide selection to choose from. There are hundreds of tomato seed companies out there from Burpee to organic Seeds of Change.

Frequently asked questions

How long does it take to grow tomatoes from seed?

The best part about growing from seeds is that you can start them 4-6 weeks before the last frost date so that you have hardy plants ready to transplant into your garden. Here is what you will need to get started growing tomatoes from seed:

Can you take seeds from a tomato and grow them?

The short answer is yes, you can. The longer answer is If the tomato is a store-bought tomato, you may not get any fruit on the plant. This is because some tomatoes at the store are hybrids. This means they have been engineered to have the best fruit and the most output.

BUT it also means that the fruit is not one you can plant seeds from and get a fruit-bearing plant. The fruit stops at that plant. If you can find an Heirloom tomato is a store then those seeds are guaranteed to produce more in the future.

What month do you plant tomato seeds?

This completely depends on what your zone is. If you are in a colder climate you want to plant your tomatoes later because tomatoes can’t take frost. So it is important to know your zone and know when you last frost date is.

Regardless of your zone, you want to plant tomato seeds 6-8 weeks before the last frost date indoors or in a greenhouse. This will give them time to grow and be a strong plant so they are ready to go in the garden right away after the last frost.

How do I make tomato seeds germinate faster?

Tomato seeds love light. So the best thing you can do for them is to put them under a shop light with the light about 2-3″ above the soil. This will keep the soil warm enough and the tomatoes will sprout within a week-10 days.

If you want to add some extra heat you can get a humidity dome for your seeds. This traps the warmth and humidity so the soil heats up more and stays moist.

This step by step guide on how to grow tomatoes from seeds is the easiest way to grow them! You can do it indoors or outdoors using items around your house!

How to grow tomatoes

Seed Packets. There are roughly 100 seeds for less than $5 for each packet.
Seed Starter Tray with Dome. Make sure the holes are at least an inch in diameter.
Heat Mat. (optional)
Seed Starting Potting Soil Mix

  1. Fill the Seed Starter Tray with the sterile Seed Starting Mix. (You can use a muffin tin if you don’t have a seed starting tray) This potting soil is fine and has smaller particles than regular potting soil.
spreading soil in a seed tray with a trowel

2. Fill the tray all the way to the top and then using the tip of a pencil, make a tiny hole in the top of each cell. Drop 1-2 seeds into each hole and using your fingers, gently cover the seeds with the soil.

3. Set the seed tray into its trough water dish and add water to the bottom tray that allows water to be wicked up into the seed starting tray.

If you don’t have this lower tray, gently water from above being careful not to put so much water on top that it washes out the seeds.

4. Rest the seed tray onto the heat mat and turn it on per the instructions. Keep the potting soil slightly damp to the touch, never allowing it to dry out totally. In 5-7 days the seeds will have germinated and pop up. Each seedling will have two little cotyledon leaves, which are not considered true leaves.

5. After 30 days, each plant should have a set of true leaves and be ready to be transplanted into a larger container. If two plants emerge out of the cell, thin out the weaker of the two plants leaving just the strong one to continue to grow.

6. Transplant the seedling into a 4” pot with regular potting soil. Insert each seedling into the premade hole to the base of its cotyledon leaves. Tomato seedlings grow new roots along their buried stems resulting in sturdy, healthy plants. Gently water in the seedlings.

7. When night temperatures are regularly in the 55 degree range, it’s time to plant the established seedlings outdoors. Remember to harden off the seedlings by first moving move them outside into the sun for a few hours then gradually increase until they are in full sun all day, over the course of a week. The plants should be 4-6” tall at this point and ready to go into the garden or into a larger container.

A bunch of tomatoes growing on the vine.

If you are planting your tomatoes in a container, it needs to be a minimum of 3-5 gallons. If planting in the ground or in a raised bed, plant them at least 12” apart in all directions. Gently tease the roots out of the container, place gently in the hole and then pack the soil firmly around the roots. Water deeply after planting and if you are using a container, keep watering until the water runs out of the drainage holes on the bottom.

Depending on the type of tomato plants you have, you will be eating tomatoes in about 3-4 weeks from this point! That is how to grow tomatoes starting from seed!

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