How to Grow Tomatoes from Seeds?

Growing tomatoes at home is not a big deal and it is worth the energy. You cannot compare the taste of a tomato from a supermarket with the taste of a tomato from your garden.

Then you ask why should I grow them from seeds if I can buy the seedling from a local nursery? My answer is: because you can choose the variety which you want to grow.

grow tomatoes form seeds

You can choose from thousands of heirloom, hybrid, and open-pollinated varieties. Also, growing your own tomato plants from seeds can save you a lot of money.

In this article, you can find a step-by-step guide on how to grow tomatoes from seeds, and other useful tricks and info that will help you out.

Growing Tomatoes from Seeds

Step1 – Sow seeds at the right time

It is essential to sow the seeds at the right time. If you do it too early, it can result in an overgrown seedling.

Growing tomato plant from seeds takes about six to eight weeks from sowing. After eight weeks you might want to transplant your seedlings. But you can do this only after the last spring frost. Otherwise, your plant might freeze and then die.

So, to make sure you don’t sow too early, you should check your region’s last frost date and count backwards six to eight weeks. That is the time when you should sow the seeds.

Step 2 – Choose the container

You can use plastic pots, as I do, or any recycled containers such as yoghurt containers. The most important thing is that the containers must be clean.

Step 3 – Choose the soil

You should choose soil that is for sowing seeds and it gives a lightweight and well-draining medium for it. You don’t want to suffocate your seeds.

Before filling the pots with soil, you might want to wet the soil, so you make sure that the seeds get enough moist.

Step 4 – Plant the seeds

Now you can plant the tomato seeds, but make sure you don’t put them deeper than a one-quarter inch or 0,5 cm. If you put them too deeply, you will never see them again, as they are very small and will not have the power to break through the heavy soil.

Step 5 – Provide light

For healthy and strong seedling, you need to have light. My window sill is small, so I can’t keep the seedlings there, and the late winter sunlight is not that strong in my country. So, I use grow lights for my tomato plants.

You don’t have to choose an expensive grow light. It will help your seedling get the needed light only by leaving it on for 16 hours a day, then you can switch it off, or if it has a timer, it will switch off by itself.

Step 6 – Watering

This is a very important step. Remember, tomato plants hate being overwatered. So, if you overwater you can easily kill your seedling.

Make sure, the soil is always moist, but not wet. Also, you could use a sheet of cling film or plastic wrap to cover the containers so the soil will stay moisturized. However, this trick you can use only after sowing the seeds. When germination happens, you must remove it for airflow.

Step 7 – Airflow

In Step 6 I mentioned the airflow because this is also very important. Weak air circulation can lead to fungal diseases.

As my seedlings are in a room of my house, I just open the window, and the problem is solved. However, if your planting station is in a basement or in the attic, or somewhere where the air is not really moving, you can use a small oscillating fan.

This will help the seedling get some air movement around them, but you don’t want to make the wind too strong either.

Step 8 – Fertilizing

Fertilizing seedlings is not a MUST, but it helps a lot. I say it isn’t a must, because usually potting soils contain slow-release fertilizer. This kind of fertilizer feeds your seeds and plants over weeks.

However, to have a thicker and stronger seedling, you can use other fertilizers every 12 to 14 days. Make sure you read the label on the potting mix and the fertilizer as well, then you can add half amount of the recommended rate.

Always use fertilizers as indicated. You can reduce the amount of the recommendation, but never increase, as it can make more harm than good.

Step 9 – Acclimatizing

As you arrived at the last step, now you should acclimatize (harden off) your plants. This process should take a week.

When your seedlings are strong enough and the weather outside is not cold anymore, you can take them out every day to get some fresh air. Select a shady spot and put the containers there, then take them indoors for the night. Every day, you should introduce them to more and more sunlight.

After a week of hardening off, you can transplant your seedlings in your garden, backyard, or wherever you will have your tomatoes.

Should You Soak Tomato Seeds Before Planting?

So, here is the question: should I soak tomato seeds before planting, or should not? Well, this is not a must, but it helps with germination.

This trick is used for a long time, but not everyone is using it. In fact, not many people know about it. I learned this trick from my grandfather and now I am using it as well.

Soaking the seeds will fasten the plant growing, as the germination time is reduced.

Here is how to do it:

Take a small container and fill it up half with room temperature water. Then place the seeds in the water and leave them to soak for 24 – 48 hours. I usually take them out of the water after 24 hours, as I don’t want to drown them. However, 48 hours is still safe, but after 48 hours your seeds will start to decompose.

After soaking, seeds will puff up and ready to be planted. You should plant them straight away.

How Long Does It Take for Seeds to Germinate?

Tomato seeds usually germinate in 5 to 10 days. However, this answer is more complex than you think.

Germination time will depend on many factors. First, it depends on the variety of the tomato. Some types will germinate quicker, or there are some, which need more time for this.  Also, if your tomato seeds are older, they will germinate later.

Soil temperature is another factor that will affect germination. The warmer the soil, the quicker is the germination and the higher the number of seeds that will sprout. The soil must be at least 10°C/ 50°F. Colder than this would fail the germination.

Humidity is another important factor to consider. If the air is too dry, the soil will dry out faster, so the seeds will not germinate. If the humidity is too high, the soil will stay too wet. This can kill the seeds, as there can occur different diseases and mould.

If you want germination to happen how it should, you should provide adequate airflow as well. Seeds need air circulation, otherwise will suffocate. So, keep the soil moist and loose.

When to Plant Tomato Seedlings Outside?

It is important to take into consideration a few factors when you want to transplant your seedling.

One of these factors is the seedling itself. When it is twice as big as its pot, it is ready to be transplanted.

If the plant is too big for the pot, the soil will get dry too quickly, the plant will not get enough nutrition, and the growth may slow down.

Another factor to consider is the weather. It is best for tomatoes not to transplant them when it is too hot and sunny outside because the sun could burn them.

However, the night temperature should be at least 10°C/ 50°F, so the seedling won’t get cold. Also, you shouldn’t choose a too windy day to transplant your plants.

I mentioned it earlier, you should always check your region’s last frost date, and transplant your seedling only after this date.

Can You Source Seeds from a Fresh Tomato?

Have you ever asked yourself what will happen if you plant seeds from a fresh tomato? If not, that is ok. If yes, now you will get the answer.

If you buy a tomato from a supermarket, and you plant its seeds, it is most likely those will not germinate, or if they do, you will have different tomatoes from the original plant. Why? Because these tomatoes are F1 hybrids.

If you want genuine tomatoes, you should ask a gardener for seeds who is growing its own tomatoes and saves the seeds from them. Or you can buy seeds from specialized companies.

The best tomato varieties to save seeds from are heirloom or open-pollinated ones. These will result in identical plants to the original.

From Seeds to Tomatoes

The length of time between sowing the tomato seeds and harvesting the fruits from the plants depends on the type you are growing. The bigger the fruit is, the more time it takes to ripen.

The number of days needed from planting to harvesting is always written on the seeds’ package.

Sowing will happen depending on the region you live in, but this is usually from February to April. In May you can start to transplant the plants, and depending on the type of the tomato, harvesting can start from July and will last until the end of September, or until the first frost comes in.

Wrap Up

Buying tomatoes from the supermarket might be easier, but tomatoes from your own garden will taste more like heaven.

As I described, you can now see that growing tomatoes from seeds is not complicated and not expensive. If you have at least a small terrace, you can plant tomatoes, so you will have your own tasty fruits.

If you are lucky enough and you have more space available, you can plant a whole range of tomato plants.


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