How to Grow Tomatoes From Seed


* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.

 

Learn how to grow tomatoes from seed with these step-by-step instructions and enjoy fresh or preserved homegrown tomatoes from your own garden all year long! Learn how to start tomato seeds, how to care for tomato seedlings, how to transplant tomatoes and how to get an abundant tomato harvest from your garden. #growtomatoes #tomatoesfromseedTomatoes are a staple in just about every home vegetable garden. They can be grown in garden rows, raised beds or containers, in greenhouses, on acres of land or on balconies. And there are sooo many kinds to choose from. 

If you’re looking for a good canning or sauce-making variety, choose a paste tomato like Amish Paste or San Marzano. If you want a snacking variety, choose a cherry or grape variety. If you want a big, juicy slicing tomato, opt for a Beefsteak. And if you just want fabulous fresh-eating tomatoes or unique colours and patterns, choose any of the thousands of diverse varieties of heirloom tomatoes that exist around the world. 

I guarantee the first time you grow tomatoes from seed will not be your last. Much like chickens are the “gateway animal” to the barnyard, tomatoes are the “gateway vegetable” (okay, fruit) to the home garden.

We’ve been growing tomatoes in our garden every year since, well, since we started gardening. And technically, even before that! I used to grow tomatoes on my patio years ago when I lived in the city. I certainly would NOT have considered myself a gardener at the time, but I did have a few herbs and potted tomato plants on my little ground-floor patio, and it made me feel pretty proud (and a little like I was cheating the system) to be able to snip a few herbs or pluck a few tomatoes right from my own patio. Very cool for a born and raised city girl!

But back then I didn’t grow anything from seed. I bought tomato seedlings from our local garden store and watered them. That was about it. 

They did okay for a while, but slowly the leaves began to curl, the new blossoms began to drop off and some tomatoes developed black spots on the blossom end (I now know this was blossom end rot). 

I got a few fresh tomatoes that year and was over-the-moon about it, but I really had no idea what I was doing when it came to growing and caring for tomatoes. In fact, at the end of the season as I was packing up my life to move overseas for a year, a friend of mine asked if he could take my tomato plants, which still had a few fruits clinging to the vine. He said he wanted to plant the entire tomatoes and let the seeds grow into new plants. I was completely floored that this was even possible. Imagine that! Me, Little Miss Homesteader, had NO IDEA you could regrow tomatoes from the seeds that were inside. Crazy, eh?

But roughy a decade later, now I know. And I’ve been working on my tomato game for the past three years.

Aside from broccoli, tomatoes are the one vegetable fruit we’ve grown consistently year after year. And while we’re no experts after our three, going on four years of experience, we’ve had enough successes (and failures) growing tomatoes that I think it’s high time I start passing on the knowledge and lessons we’ve learned, so that even if you’re a total tomato newbie, you too can grow baskets full of tomatoes this year for fresh-eating all summer long (and even more to preserve for next winter).

Let’s get started…

Related: How to Grow A BUMPER CROP of Tomatoes!

 

How to Start Tomato Seeds Indoors

The Basics:

  • Start tomato seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before your last frost date. 
  • Sow seeds ¼ inch deep and cover with soil. Keep watered (but not soaking).
  • Once tomatoes are roughly three inches tall and have a couple sets of true leaves, transplant them to larger pots to give their roots room to grow.

The Details:

Tomatoes love warmth, and tomato seeds are no different. Seeds germinate best in warm soil that’s preferably somewhere between 75ºF and 85ºF (23ºC to 29ºC). For this reason, you should start tomatoes indoors roughly 6 to 8 weeks before your last frost date as seeds will not germinate if you direct sow them outside (or even in a greenhouse) too early in the season when temperatures are still too low. 

You can plant seeds in just about anything (containers, egg cartons… eggshells!) but I like using peat pots. They’re easy to use, cheap to buy, have adequate growing space for seedlings to grow strong roots, they drain well and they can be planted directly into your garden without having to mess around with trying to get the seedling out of the pot and into the soil. But hey, the choice is yours;)

You can plant two or three seeds per pot to ensure good germination rates and then thin them out when they start to grow, or just plant one seed per pot. In my experience tomato seeds have a pretty good germination rate so I usually just plant one or maybe two per pot. 

Plant tomato seeds ¼-inch deep and cover with soil. Water regularly to keep soil moist while seeds are germinating. 

Learn how to start tomato seeds, how to care for tomato seedlings, how to transplant tomatoes and how to get abundant tomato harvest. #growtomatoes #tomatoesfromseed

Seedlings will need a place to grow indoors that is consistently warm and has adequate light. You can purchase your own set of indoor growing lights or make your own. You can also keep seedlings near a sunny window, but beware that keeping them near a window in cold weather could stunt their germination and growth if there’s a draft. Plus, plants will grow toward the window instead of straight up toward the grow lights, so if you can use indoor growing lights, I recommend doing so to start your tomato seedlings.

Keep in mind that seeds do not need light to germinate, just warmth. Once they sprout, however, the seedlings themselves will need light to keep growing.

You’ll also want to make sure you have adequate space where you will have room to transplant your baby tomato seedlings into larger pots to help their roots to keep growing before transplanting them outdoors.

 

Transplanting Tomato Seedlings Outdoors

The Basics:

  • Transplant seedlings outdoors when all chance of frost has passed and nighttime temperatures stay consistently above 50ºF (10ºC). 
  • Tomato seedlings should be hardened off for about 7-10 days to get them used to the outdoor temperatures.
  • To transplant, dig a hole that is a few inches deeper than the height of the pot that the tomatoes are in. Plant tomatoes deep enough that the soil reaches the first set of leaves at the bottom of the plant. 
  • For best results, fertilize/add calcium to the soil before planting.

The Details:

Make sure to wait until outdoor temperatures are consistently warm enough before transplanting tomato seedlings into your garden. Nighttime temperatures should not drop below 50ºF (10ºC). If you have a greenhouse you might be able to transplant them outside a few days or even a couple weeks earlier if temperatures inside the greenhouse stay consistently warm enough.  

Tomato seedlings will also need to be hardened off before transplanting permanently outdoors. Hardening off simply means you get the seedlings used to being outside slowly instead of just putting them outside and leaving them there. After a sheltered, warm “upbringing” indoors, this violent shove into the outdoor garden can shock the plants and even kill them. So be gentle. Go slowly.

To harden them off, bring potted tomato seedlings outside for a few hours the first day and then bring them back in. Put them outside for about an hour longer every day and then leave them outside overnight on about day 5 or 6 (while they’re still in their indoor pots). Transplant into the ground or into their permanent spots by day 7 to 10.

When planting, dig a hole that is deep enough that the soil will reach the first (bottom) set of leaves, then prune the bottom set(s) of leaves so that no leaves are touching the soil. This encourages a strong root system which makes for stronger, healthier plants and helps ensure tomatoes leaves stay dry which helps to prevent blight and other common diseases.

For optimal results, sprinkle in some fertilizer and/or add some finely crushed eggshells to the soil. The calcium in the eggshells helps to prevent common problems like blossom drop and blossom end rot.

Work the fertilizer/eggshells into the soil, place a tomato plant in each hole (up to its bottom leaves) and fill with soil. Give plants a deep watering.

Learn how to start tomato seeds, how to care for tomato seedlings, how to transplant tomatoes and how to get abundant tomato harvest. #growtomatoes #tomatoesfromseed

 

Caring for Tomato Plants

The Basics:

  • Grow tomatoes in a warm, dry, sunny location. Tomatoes do especially well in greenhouses and under high tunnels if you have them. Otherwise choose a warm, sunny location outdoors.
  • Tomatoes should be planted in well-drained areas as soggy soil can rot a tomato plant’s roots.
  • Water tomato plants at the base of the plant so that the leaves stay dry. Water deep every two or three days.
  • Indeterminate (vining) tomatoes will need to be staked or caged to help them stand up straight. Here are the stakes that we use and recommend.
  • To prune tomatoes, remove any damaged, yellowed or diseased leaves and any leaves at the bottom of the plant that are touching the soil. Pinch off suckers on indeterminate plants.
  • Harvest tomatoes when they turn red (or ripen to the colour they’re meant to be!)

 The Details:

Tomatoes originated in South and Central America, so naturally they love the sun and the heat. Plant them in a warm, sunny location in your garden or in a greenhouse.

Tomatoes also like to be kept dry, so make sure to plant them in an area that is not likely to get too much rain (put them under a high tunnel or an awning on a balcony to keep them dry if you live in a really rainy area) and water close to the base of the plants in order to keep the leaves dry. Wet leaves invite fungus and diseases like blight.

Make sure tomatoes are planted in well-drained areas. If you plant them in pots, make sure there are enough holes in the bottom of your pot/planter to allow water to drain. We’ve grown our tomatoes in 5-gallon buckets for the past couple years and punched around 10 drainage holes in the bottom of each bucket. This has worked well for us.

Soak tomato plants once every 2 or 3 days (depending on how hot and dry it is). Tomato plants respond best to a deep watering every few days rather than light watering every day.

Learn how to start tomato seeds, how to care for tomato seedlings, how to transplant tomatoes and how to get abundant tomato harvest. #growtomatoes #tomatoesfromseed

Make sure you know whether your tomato plants are determinate or indeterminate. Determinate simply means that they will grow to a pre-DETERMINED height and then stop growing. Indeterminate plants are vining plants that will keep growing. They need to be caged or staked, and they also need more pruning than determinate varieties.

When it comes to keeping them upright, I much prefer to stake them than to cage them as I find our plants fill out the tomato cages really quickly and it’s harder to prune and even get at some of the fruit, but whatever works best for you is just fine. We started using these spiral tomato stakes with out tomato plants a couple years ago and they’re fantastic and easy to use and adjust as the plants grow taller. I don’t think we’ll ever use anything else.

Prune all varieties by snipping off any yellowed, damaged or diseased-looking leaves at the base of the branch that they’re on. Discard and destroy these leaves and branches in the garbage or fire pit. Do not add diseased leaves to your compost pile as they can infect your compost and damage other plants.

Also, prune any lower leaves that are touching the soil. These leaves are more susceptible to moisture from the soil and can be a conduit for blight.

When it comes to indeterminate plants, you’ll also want to prune off the suckers. Suckers are new vines or side shoots that grow out of the “crotch” between the stem and a branch. If left un-pruned, these suckers will grow into brand new vines. While they will produce more blossoms that may eventually fruit, if you let all the suckers grow then your tomato plant will use all of its energy to produce more suckers and leaves instead of producing fruit.

Best practice is to prune most of the suckers, but leave a few (maybe two or three) closer to the middle of the plant so that you get a couple new vines and some more fruit. Otherwise try to be diligent about pruning suckers while they’re still small.

Learn how to start tomato seeds, how to care for tomato seedlings, how to transplant tomatoes and how to get abundant tomato harvest. #growtomatoes #tomatoesfromseedFinally, harvest tomatoes when the entire fruit has turned bright red (or whatever colour they’re meant to be when fully ripe). Indeterminate plants will usually continue to grow and produce fruit until it gets too cold, so if you end up with unripened green tomatoes that you know won’t have time to ripen in the fall, you can still put them to use. Maybe make some fried green tomatoes or a batch of green tomato salsa!

However you slice ’em, tomatoes deserve a place in your garden this year. So, whaddya say? Will you be growing some from seed? Let me know, down below 🙂

Oh, and don’t forget to grab your FREE Seed Starting Cheat Sheet. It includes at-a-glance info on exactly when and how to start 10 common garden vegetables from seed (and yes, tomatoes are on the list!)

>> Download your Seed Starting Cheat Sheet now!

Wishing you health, wealth and baskets full of delicious homegrown food:)

 

 

 


CATEGORIES
HOMESTEADING
REAL FOOD
NATURAL LIVING

1 Comment

  1. Jane Allan

    Anna there is a lot of great info in this post. I dont plant tomatoes at all. That doesnt mean they dont come up in my garden. I have what I call tomato weedlings popping up all over the place right now. Autumn is the best time for growing traditional salad like plants, here in sub tropical Aus. We also have a garden pest, Queensland(my state) Fruit Fly. This nasty creature lays eggs inside soft fruits. You upen up a beautiful fruit to find it full of maggots. The fruit fly is not as active in the cooler months and doesnt seem to like the cherry tomato varieties. The last lot of tomato seeds that I actively planted was the first lot that went into this garden, when we moved here 5 years ago. This year I have actually planted 8 tomato seedlings. These were self sown tomatoes in my daughters garden. We are not sure what variety they will be. I love gardening and growing some of our own foods.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
You Might Also Like
Homemade Yogurt Recipe (Plain & Greek Style)

Homemade Yogurt Recipe (Plain & Greek Style)

* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.   I’ve known that homemade yogurt was “a thing” for a long time. I always considered making it myself, but it was never really at the top of my list of skills to...

read more

The Ultimate Guide to Emergency Water Preparedness

The Ultimate Guide to Emergency Water Preparedness

* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.   Water. Fresh, clean, potable water—Besides air, it’s absolutely the most important thing when it comes to survival. To many people around the world who...

read more

When homesteaders hit the road for a summer road trip…

What am I missing?

@modernhomesteadingconference here we come!

(Yes, a week early, but we’ve got important business on the way;). Will I see you there???

#homesteadersbelike #homesteading #roadtrip
...

21 5

The Modern Homesteading Conference is just a few short weeks away, and I have TWO free tickets to give away to one lucky winner.

This is a live, in-person event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho on June 28th and 29th. I’ll be there speaking and teaching alongside expert homesteaders like Joel Salatin (Polyface Farms), Melissa K. Norris (Pioneering Today), Carolyn and Josh Thomas (Homesteading Family), Lisa Bass (Farmhouse On Boone), Anne Briggs (Anne Of All Trades), Lisa Steele (Fresh Eggs Daily), Robyn Jackson (Cheese From Scratch) and more!

Comment “ENTER” below and I’ll send you the link where you can submit your details and enter to win!

I’ll be drawing a winner this Thursday, so make sure to enter by tomorrow night (Wednesday, June 5th) if you wanna win!

May the odds be ever in your favour 😉
...

18 4

For Mother’s Day this year, my husband is teaching our daughter to empty the dishwasher on her own. It may seem like a small feat, and for anyone who has kids who already do this and more, this may seem like nothing to celebrate. But for all of the moms who understand how much quicker and easier it is to just “do it yourself,” slowing down and allowing our daughter to take ownership of this even if it’s not perfect or takes twice as long is a huge milestone, both for her and for us as parents!

While it may sometimes feel like the work that we do day in and day out is just mundane and repetitive, the way we show up every day over many years with our children will have a huge impact on the type of people they’ll grow up to be.

What we teach them—the skills we pass on and the values we instil—will help to shape who our children become as adults, and who they become as adults will help to shape what our future world looks like.

It may seem as simple as emptying a dishwasher, but what this really symbolizes is that we’re raising a capable human being who takes responsibility for contributing to our household and is a valued member of our family. And since she will someday grow up to run her own household, possibly be a mother herself, and contribute to our future society, that means that we, as parents, (and especially us moms!), have immense power to shape what the future looks like through the simple actions we take every day to teach and empower the next generation.

All of that to say, thanks for everything you do moms! You are more valued and powerful than you know.

Happy Mother’s Day, and may someone else be doing the dishes for you today!
...

21 2

Hot cross buns are an Easter tradition in our house, so naturally I wanted to learn how to make them at home.⁣

They're surprisingly easy to make with just a few basic ingredients, including flour, dry active yeast, milk, eggs, sugar and spices, plus raisins or, more traditionally, dried currants and/or candied citrus peels. ⁣

Click the link in my bio to learn how to make your own and enjoy hot cross buns fresh out of the oven this Easter!
...

16 1

🗞 BREAKING NEWS!

I’m not always so good at sharing all of the awesome stuff I’ve got going on in life and business here on social media. When you’re a full time homesteader, business owner, editor, mom and wife, sometimes IG falls by the wayside 😬

But I just had to pop in this morning to let you know that I’m doing something I’ve never done before, and offering anyone who would like to try out my online membership program—The Society Of Self-Reliance—the opportunity to join for just $1.

Yup, you read that right: Right now, you can get unlimited access to The Society Of Self-Reliance for an entire month for just $1!

Here’s what you get access to:

🌱 Over 150 video lessons to help you build your skills in the kitchen, garden, workshop and home.

👨‍🌾 A private community of amazing people sharing their on journeys and supporting you in yours.

🫙 Our monthly live group coaching call, where you can ask questions and where I offer personalized help and guidance on your homesteading journey.

🌿 Exclusive bonuses: Get downloadable digital copies of my Home Canning Handbook and the annual edition of Modern Homesteading Magazine for free (regular $40 for both), as well as access to other bonuses, like my gardening and preserving masterclasses and bonus interviews with other top homesteaders.

I’m only offering this deal for a limited time, and after it’s over, the membership cost will be going up. But if you join now for $1 and decide you love it, you’ll still be able to continue with your membership for the introductory price of just $20/month (or $200/year).

However, if you decide The Society Of Self-Reliance just isn’t for you right now, you can cancel any time.

All you have to lose is $1, but what you have to gain is priceless:

—> Independence and self-reliance in all areas of life.
—> Security and confidence in your ability to provide for yourself and your loved ones in good times and bad.
—> Freedom from complete and total dependency on “the system”
—> Skills and knowledge you can pass down to the next generation.
—> Fellowship and community with other likeminded folks.

And so much more!

Comment “Society” below and I’ll send you the deets!
...

69 4

Me shopping for Easter candy for my kids, and walking out empty handed because it’s all full of absolute garbage!

I don’t mind my kids having sugar now and again, but I draw the line at food dies, seed oils and artificial ingredients. (Or at least, I try!)

Hey, we’re not perfect, and yes, our kids will get Easter candy on Sunday morning. Ryan has already bought some and I’m sure he didn’t check all the ingredients like I do! I’m fine with the 80/20 rule most of the time. But the meta question here, is why are these types of ingredients allowed in foods to begin with? Especially food marketed toward kids!

Yes, it’s “junk food.” I don’t expect it to be HEALTHY. But it could be made better by omitting the known carcinogenic ingredients that have been linked to everything from ADHD to hormone imbalances to cancer!

Folks, we must demand better. We DESERVE better, and so do our kids.
...

27 7

We said goodbye to a family pet yesterday. My mom has had Zoe since I was a teenager, and Evelyn has grown to love her during her visits with nanny.

It’s never easy to say goodbye to a family member, human or furry. But we don’t shelter our kids from death either. Evelyn was with us when we found our rabbits dead. She went with my mom to say goodbye to her other cat a year ago. And she knows where the chickens go when it’s their time.

Having a healthy relationship to death is important. It is, after all, the only certainty in life.

Today Ryan is heading down to clean out his dad’s place after he passed last week. They had a strained relationship, so our kids never knew him as their grandpa. But still, it’s never easy.

It does, however, teach us to be grateful for every day we’re alive, and to appreciate the ones we love while we’re still together, because you never know how much time you have left.

RIP Zozo ❤️ See you over the rainbow bridge 🌈 🐾
...

95 16

When I first started homesteading, gardening, and trying to be more self-sufficient, I had no idea what I was doing. Everything was new to me, and I had no one in my life to teach me the ropes.

I’m not a second or third or fifth generation homesteader. I’m a born-and-raised city girl who had to figure it out on my own, using books from the library and resources from the internet, and advice from random strangers on social media.

While these free resources have taught me a lot, I’ve also come across lots of bad (or just wrong) advice online, and sadly, I’ve dealt with a jerk or two in the comments section of public Facebook groups.

Eventually I did invest in online mentorship and my success from there was exponential. Now, less than a decade after leaving the city in pursuit of our new life as homesteaders, I’ve not only learned how to grow an abundance of food and troubleshoot all kinds of plant issues to ensure a healthy crop and successful harvest, but I’ve learned how to be more self-sufficient in just about every area of life.

I’ve learned how to
🌱 grow my own groceries
🫙 can and preserve my own food
🌿 make herbal medicine and natural products
💵 create multiple income streams
🆘 prepare for a wide range of emergencies
and more.

Plus, with my husband’s help, he can also
🛠 fix or build most things
so together we’ve got a wide range of skills that allow us to live a more empowered, self-reliant life.

Now I want to help you do the same…

I recently reopened the doors to The Society of Self-Reliance—my private membership program where I teach you the skills and mindset you need to become more self-reliant in every area of your life.

Not only do you get access to nearly 150 step-by-step video tutorials (and counting), you also get monthly live group coaching calls with me, and access to a private, SUPPORTIVE and knowledgeable online community of likeminded folks on the same journey.

For a limited time, you can join The Society for just $20/month (or get two months FREE with an annual membership!).

Come, join a community of people who will lift you up and ensure you DON’T starve 😉

Comment “Society” below to learn more!
...

29 7

Never before have we had access to so much information at our fingertips. Whether you have a question you need answered, are looking for a tutorial to walk you through a specific task or are searching for a recipe to help you figure out what to make for dinner, all you have to do is Google it.⁣

But the problem is that there's no real way to be sure whether the information you find on line is genuine. Is the person who wrote or shared it actually sharing their own experience, or are they too simply regurgitating answers that they Googled?⁣

As we barrel full speed ahead into the era of AI and deep fakes, it will be even more difficult to know whether the information you're getting is even from a real human!⁣

While it's definitely an exciting time to be alive, so many people are feeling overwhelmed, and are craving a return to the analog world; To a world where information was shared in the pages of trusted books and publications, or was passed on from human to human, from someone who held that knowledge not because they Googled it, but because they lived it, experienced it, even mastered it.⁣

That what sets Homestead Living magazine apart from much of the information you'll find online: We don't have staff writers, we have experienced homesteaders sharing their hard-won wisdom in each issue. And while we do offer a digital version, we're also now offering monthly PRINT issues for U.S. subscribers (Canada and elsewhere hopefully coming soon!)⁣

Plus, until the end. of January, you can get your first 12 issues of Homesteading Monthly for just $1.00!⁣

No matter where you are on your homesteading journey, if you've been feeling overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information and the noise of the online world and have been craving a return to the real, the tangible and, quite frankly, the human, Homesteading Monthly was made for you. ⁣

For homesteaders, by homesteaders.⁣

*** Comment "Homestead" below and I'll send you the link to subscribe! ***
...

39 14

When I graduated from university with a degree in journalism many years ago, I remember thinking that while I knew how to write, edit, interview, shoot, and handle just about every part of creating a publication from the editorial standpoint, I really had no clue how to actually get published, let alone how the printing process works.

Over the years I’ve followed my passion for writing, editing and creating content, figuring much of it out on my own. From creating my blog to “self-publishing” my own digital/print magazine for the last 4 years, I’ve taught myself most of the practical skills necessary for turning an idea into a publication and getting said publication in the hands and in front of the eyes of many hundreds of readers.

But now that I’ve joined forces with the team at @homesteadlivingmagazine and @freeportpress, we’re all able to level up and reach many THOUSANDS of print and digital readers together.

People are HUNGRY for tried and tested advice on homesteading and self-reliant living. There’s a huge movement happening right now as more people wake up to all of the corruption in the world and realize that many of the systems we have come to depend on are fragile and on the brink of collapse. People are ready to take matters into their own hands by growing their own food, preparing their own meals, becoming producers instead of merely consumers and taking control of their health, freedom, security and lives.

I’m so proud to not only be a part of this movement, but to be at the forefront of it with some of the most passionate, talented and driven individuals I could ask to work with.

Getting to meet and brainstorm with some of the team in person and tour the printing facilities over the last few days has opened up a whole new world of possibilities, not just for me, but for everyone who considers themselves part of the modern homesteading movement. We are growing faster than I could have ever imagined. We’re creating a system outside of the system! We’re charging full steam ahead and we invite you to climb aboard and join us for the ride:)

#homesteading #modernhomesteading #homesteadliving #selfsufficiency #selfreliance
...

31 5

© The House & Homestead | All Rights Reserved | Legal