How to grow tomatoes from seed? Fortunately, tomatoes are one of the easiest crops to grow for beginners.
Why choose to grow tomatoes from seed and not pop into your favorite nursery and buy ready grown seedlings? Well, there are a couple of reasons.
Firstly, your nursery may only carry a small variety of tomato seedlings whereas you can pick and choose among hundreds of varieties. Secondly, you can save money by planting your own. And last but not least is the rewarding feeling of having nurtured a plant from seed to fruit.
Tomatoes seeds are typically planted indoors in a seed tray six to eight weeks before you have had your last frost. If you are not sure of your last frost date, you can ask your nearest garden center for help.
Once the seeds have grown into seedlings these will then be either planted outside or in a greenhouse in the warm spring soil.
How to Grow Tomatoes From Seeds
Let’s show you the easiest possible way of growing tomatoes from seed, step by step! If you these tips you will be harvesting your very own juicy tomatoes in no time.
1. The Right Time to Sow Seeds
It takes six to eight weeks from sowing your tomato seeds and growing them into a seedling to transplanting this seedling into the ground.
Make sure you know the right time to start. If you start too early you can end up with overgrown, leafy seedlings. As stated before, seeds should be planted indoors into seedling trays six to eight weeks before you have had your last frost.
This will ensure that you are planting your grown seedlings into the ground a week after the last frost.
2. Use Appropriate Containers
There is no need to go and spend a lot of money on the top of the range seedling trays. You can plant seeds in any container just make sure these containers have drainage holes.
However, it is much easier to buy biodegradable seedling trays.
3. Use a Good Quality Growing Soil Mix
Fill your containers with a potting mix. Make sure you have potting mix and not potting soil they differ. A potting mix is a lighter mixture, especially for growing seedlings. It contains, compost, sand, vermiculite, and mosses.
Before planting the seeds water the potting mix.
4. Planting of Seeds
If you are planting your own tomato seeds, remove the seeds and soak them for at least 12 hours in warm water. Then, remove them from the water and dry them on kitchen paper. These seeds should be planted within seven days.
Take care to plant tomato seeds at a depth of no more than one-quarter inch and moisten the potting mix. If you plant them deeper than that, they will not see the light of day!
It will also be a good idea to plant at least 3 seeds in each pot. Often some seeds to do germinate and this will give you better odds of a growing seedling. Of course, if they all grow even better!
Label each pot. Typically plastic or wooden ice-cream sticks are the best to use. Write the label with a waterproof permanent marker. You don’t want the risk of the labels washing off with the watering process.
5. Light Supply
To grow a healthy little seedling you need to furnish a lot of light. By starving light to seedlings, it will make them grow to reach the supply of light and will end up falling over.
Of course, the best place for your seedlings is under a growing light. What is a grow light? A growing light is a fluorescent bulb designed to give light favorable to the growth of seedlings.
Typically tomato seedlings need about 14 hours of light per day. Thus, fitting a timer to your lights would be a tremendous help.
6. Keep Soil Moist
Overwatering is one of the biggest culprits in the destruction of seedlings. So, keep a vigilant eye on the moisture of your soil. It should be lightly moist but not drenched.
When you have sown all your seeds, cover the seedlings with cling wrap or plastic domes. This keeps the moisture within. Once your seedling has popped above the ground these coverings need to come off so the air can flow freely.
7. Feeding the Seedlings
Supplement your potting mix fertilizer with a water-soluble organic fertilizer. There are many different supplementary seedling fertilizers to choose from.
Make sure you follow the instructions on the labels. Do not over-fertilize, this will end up killing the seedling.
8. Acclimatize Seedlings to Outdoor Conditions
This is the last step in how to grow your tomatoes from seed before they get planted in the outside soil.
“Hardening off” is the process of acclimatizing the seedlings to the outdoors. This takes approximately seven days.
The first step in the hardening off process is to start by placing seedlings outside under shade for a couple of hours a day. Each day gradually increase the outdoor time until you can see that they have acclimatized. But, each evening return them indoors.
Continue this process each day by also gradually introducing the plants to sunlight.
You are now ready to plant the seedlings outdoors!
9. Ongrowing to Harvest
You are now feeling excited. The time has come to transplant your seedling into the ground. What to do?
Make sure to place seedlings in the right place. Ideally, they should be in semi-shade. Prepare the ground where you intend to plant your seedlings by digging holes that are a little bigger than the seedling roots. Fill the hole and firmly push down with your hands. Water the newly transplanted seedling thoroughly.
Keep an eye on your tomato plants daily. Keep them watered and supply support for the plant if needed.
From Seed to Fruit
Tomatoes typically are the first vegetable people grow from seed. We hope the above tips have shown you how to grow tomatoes from seed.
Who knows from tomatoes to carrots? Once you have grown one vegetable from seed you will feel the need to grow a whole vegetable garden.
Growing your own vegetables and even flowers from seed is very rewarding!