How do you Grow Tomatoes from Seed?
This can be a difficult question to answer for beginner gardeners because of complex factors like weather, soil, and pests.
This article will help solve this problem and give ALL experience levels of gardeners step-by-step instructions on growing tomatoes from seed.
And I recommend scrolling to the bottom of this page to find answers to the 6 most frequently asked questions most gardeners have when growing tomatoes.
Step #1: Choose One of THESE 7 Tomato Types
These are the easiest types when trying to learn how to grow tomatoes from seed.
Beefsteak tomatoes are great choices when you want to learn how to grow tomatoes from seed.
- They weigh slightly over 1 pound and have a tangy, acidic bite that is also slightly sweet.
- They are great on sandwiches, solid for canning, and great to eat on their own.
A Better Boy tomato is another tomato you are most likely going to find at your average grocery store.
- It is red, round, and sweeter than most other tomatoes
- This is perfect for canning and produces one of the highest yields
Roma tomatoes are one of the favorite tomatoes among professionals cooks and restaurants.
- These are big, sweet, acidic tomatoes with a chewy flesh and low water content.
- They have a great yield, are perfect for canning, and have one of the longest storage lives out of all tomatoes.
If you are a beginner gardener and trying to learn how to grow tomatoes from seed then the Cherry Tomato is your easiest choice.
- It is about an inch in diameter, are delicate, and are known for their sweetness.
- People use them for snacking, salads, and can be used for certain types of tomato pastes.
If you are looking for a way to learn how to grow tomatoes from seed then look no further than the Brandywine Tomato.
- This tomato has an intensely meaty inside with a sweet and balanced flavor
- Perfect tomato to eat with mozzarella and olive oil.
If you are looking for a more brightly acidic and tart tomato Green Zebras should be what you grow.
- These are perfect for fried tomatoes
- These are a great tomato to plant to cross-pollinate other heirloom and organic tomatoes.
Another great way to learn how to grow tomatoes from seed is with the Cherokee Purple.
- It is a beefsteak with a reddish, purple flesh and has a sweet-rich flavor!
- Although a slow grower with little yield, the juicy dense taste makes up for it. This is the perfect tomato for salads, BLTs, and dehydrating
Step #2: Start Seeds Indoors (not Outside)
When learning how to grow tomatoes from seed you should always start indoors. This will help minimize the risk of weather, pests, and disease.
Step 1: Begin Planting Seed 8 weeks Before the Last Frost
- You will first want to start by buying your seed. I recommend buying from Amazon because it is quick and inexpensive.
- You will then want to take 3-inch GrowKo Peat Pots and fill them up to approximately 80% full with Miracle-Gro Potting Mix.
- Next, spray your soil 5 to 8 times with a spray bottle. You will want the soil to be moist, not damp. Damp soil can cause unwanted fungus.
*Find Your Last Frost Date HERE*
Step 2: Plant 2 to 3 Seeds Per Pot
- Sprinkle 2 seeds per pot about 1/8 inch deep and then gently brush the soil over the seeds. *Note, do not bury the seeds.
- Then spray the soil again 5 to 8 times until it turns a dark color.
The video below also gives a great tutorial on how to plant seeds.
Step 3: Provide Your Seeds with At Least 8 Hours of Sunlight
- After planting your seeds, provide at least 8 hours of sunlight by placing the pots by a window or a Grow Light if your windows do not receive enough sunlight.
Step 4: Spray, Spray, SprayAfter your initial planting, you will need to spray the soil once to twice a day for approximately 10 days.
It will take approximately 10 days for your seeds to germinate or “pop” through the soil.Once your seeds have germinated and sprouted through the soil, you will want to continue to spray them twice a day for 2 more months until they are about 3 inches tall. This may take an additional 10 days.
Step 5: Prune & Transplant your Tomato Plant into a Larger Pot
Once your tomatoes reach about 3 inches tall you can remove the smaller of the two plants.You can do this by taking scissors and snipping the smaller of the two plants right at the soil line. This will allow the healthier tomato plant to grow to its full potential.
Next, you can transplant your tomato plant to a 5 Gallon Nursery Pot.Again, you will want to fill these pots about 80% full with your potting mix. Next, you will want to make a hole approximately 3 inches deep (about the size of your tomato plant at this point). Then turn your existing small pot upside down, pinch the bottom of it, and then gently pull the soil and your plant out. You will then place it in your 5-gallon pot and fill it with soil. Immediately after you do this, spray the soil about 5 to 10 times.
You will then want to leave your tomato in this pot until it is ready to transplant outside.
If you learn better by watching then you will want to check out the below video:
Step 6 – Introduce your Tomatoes to Outside WeatherThis next step is what most beginner gardeners miss, but is critical to your success. For about two weeks, you will want to slowly introduce your Tomatoes outside. On the first day, you will want to place your Tomatoes (still in their pot) outside in direct sunlight for approximately 2 hours. Each day thereafter, place the Tomatoes outside for an additional hour until you build up to 6 straight hours.
Step #3: Transplant Tomatoes Outside Once THIS Happens
Below, is a 2 step process for transplanting your Tomatoes outside into your garden.
Step 1: Do THIS if you will be keeping your Tomatoes in its container all summer!If you decide to keep your Tomatoes in the pots then there is no need to transplant them. You will only need to apply compost or Miracle-Gro Potting Mix
- Apply approximately 1/4 inch of potting mix to your planter
- As soon as you apply your fertilizer make sure to water the Tomatoes for approximately 15 to 30 seconds
- Every week until harvest water your Tomatoes twice a day and keep it in full sun to promote fruit growth.
If you want to learn more about growing Tomatoes in containers, I recommend watching the below video:
Step 2: Do THIS to Transplant your Tomatoes into your Garden!
- About 1 month before you plan on transplanting your tomatoes into a garden dig holes about 8 inches deep and filling it with compost. Space holes 12-18 inches apart.
- Dig your holes in an area that will receive at least 8 hours of light.
- Then after the last frost transplant your tomatoes into the garden exactly the same way you transplanted it into the larger pots.
- Immediately after you transplant your tomatoes outside add Miracle-Gro Plant Food and water the soil for about 30 seconds.
- Finally, water your tomatoes once a day for about 30 seconds. Continue doing this until you harvest your tomatoes mid-summer.
- Related To: Best Garden Hoses
Step #4: Effectively Care for your Tomatoes THIS Way!‘
Below are caring tips for your Tomatoes throughout the summer:
- Keep Your Soil Healthy – Quickly inspect your soil for fungus, harmful worms, and weeds before you plant and throughout the summer. Remove and replace it with new soil as needed.
- Mulch – Mulch around your plants with compost at the beginning of the year to prevent the possible spread of fungus.
- Water the soil, not the plants. By watering leaves, you increase the risk of spreading fungus and other diseases.
- Remove diseased and dead plants. This is the easiest way to prevent the spread of deadly diseases. If you notice yellow spots on leaves it means you may have blight fungus and will want to remove the leaves.
- Plant your tomatoes at a new spot yearly. This is key to preventing seasonal diseases and insects from attacking the same plants year in and year out.
- Prevent Insects. The best way to prevent them is through an insecticide. If you don’t want spider mites, stinkbugs, or Japanese beetles ruining all your hard work I recommend purchasing Sevin Bug Killer.
Step #5: Effectively Harvest Tomatoes THIS Way!
Below are several tips to remember when harvesting tomatoes:
- Harvest your Tomatoes 8 to 12 weeks after planting.
- Leave your tomatoes on the vine as long as possible. This will allow them to ripen the most effective way and retain their flavor.
- You will want to pick your tomatoes when the whole fruit is solid red and firm. Firmly hold the fruit as the stem with one hand and the stem with another. Twist the tomatoes and gently pull away from the plant.
- If insects are eating your tomatoes before they fully ripen it is okay to pick them when they are orange colored and place on your windowsill.
- For some tomatoes, the time to harvest is right around frost. My recommendation is to harvest your tomatoes before the first frost, even if they are not fully ready. Frost will immediately kill your plant and tomatoes.
Frequently Asked Questions (6 Questions)
1. What are the best ways to store tomatoes?
Below, will give you several guidelines depending on the type of tomato:
- If you want to store a green (unripened) tomato you will want to place it in a brown paper bag, stem down and place it in a cool area (right around 55 to 65 degrees).
- By chance, if you have a ripe tomato that you want to store I would recommend placing it at room temperature away from the sunlight and not touching other tomatoes.
- If you have an overripe tomato you will want to place it in the fridge to prevent it from ripening more. Please note that while this will extend its shelf life, you will lose quite a bit of its flavor.
2. What are the Best Uses for Tomatoes?
There are numerous uses for tomatoes in food. Below, are some of the best ways to use tomatoes:
- Pasta Sauce
- Tomato Salad
- Homemade Tomato Soup
- Tomato Sandwich
- Tomato Pizza
3. Should I Stake my Tomatoes?
You should stake all tomatoes. They can grow up to 7 feet tall and can have upwards of 30 tomatoes on them at a time.I recommend purchasing EasyGo Stakes. They take 5 minutes to assemble and are strong, sturdy and made to improve airflow for your vegetables.
4. What type of Tomato Seeds should I Use?There are four types of seeds that can be used to grow tomatoes; heirloom, organic, hybrid, and GMO.
I recommend using Heirloom or Hybrid seeds. Gardeners do not have access to GMO seeds and organic seeds is a marketing term and not truly a type of seed.
- These seeds contain all the tomato’s original traits and produce some of the most beautiful and best-tasting tomatoes out there.
- The downside of this seed is that it is the costliest (due to its rarity).
- In addition, expect the least amount of yield from this type of seed due to the susception of disease and other elements.
- Hybrid seeds were made by combining the genes of the same group of plants. This is not a bad thing.
- This type of seed is what most gardeners use when learning how to grow tomatoes from seed.
- The goal with hybrids is to produce a plant that contains the best features of both parent plants.
- This seed is critical if you want the most resistant plant against mother nature’s elements, insects, and diseases or want the most yield!
5. What Type of Fertilizer Should I Use for My Tomatoes?
The best type of fertilizer for tomatoes is compost.Miracle-Gro Plant Food for your tomatoes.
- What I like about this product is that you only have to apply it once every 3 months and it contains natural ingredients and micronutrients that support root strength and plant development.