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:)

 

 

 


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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

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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. 
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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.

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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.

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My name’s Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader living in the beautiful Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. I live with my family (human, furry and feathered) on 1/4 acre property where we grow and preserve hundreds of pounds of our own food every year, and strive to live a more self-reliant lifestyle in all that we do.

I grew up in Vancouver and had pretty much zero experience homesteading before my husband, Ryan and I decided we wanted to escape the rat race, become less dependent on the modern industrial food system (and all modern industrialized systems), and dove head first into this lifestyle around a decade ago.

We packed up and moved to Vancouver Island where we live now, started our first garden, and the rest is pretty much history.

(Well, actually that’s not true… There have been A LOT of ups and downs, successes and failures, wins and losses, struggles, challenges and pivotal moments along the way, but those are stories for another day).

Over the past few years, our decision to follow a less conventional path that aims to break free (at least in some part) from “the system” has been affirmed over and over again. We all know for a fact now that our food system, healthcare system, financial system, transportation system and so much more are all really just a house of cards built on shaky ground. We’ve been lucky so far, but sooner or later it’s all liable to collapse.

But preparedness and security isn’t the only thing that drives us… The peace of mind I get knowing that everything we grow is 100% organic, and that the ingredients in our food, medicine, personal and household products are safe and natural is worth more than anything I could buy at the grocery store.

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I’m all about practical gifts; Gifts that will truly make life easier and contribute to my and my family’s wellbeing. And our family includes our animals!

One of the ways we make sure our chickens are taken care of is by letting them free range during the day, but making sure they’re locked up and safe from predators at night. But who wants to be up at the crack of dawn to open the coop, or wake up to a bloodbath because you forgot to close the coop the night before?

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Automating our homesteading tasks as much as possible allows us to worry about other things and saves us a ton of time. Plus, it makes sure that things get taken care of, whether we remember or not.

Using an automatic chicken door has been a GAME CHANGER for us. It’s one of those lesser known homestead tools that can make all the difference, and I’m always recommending one to anyone who keeps chickens!

This chicken door from @chickcozy_ is so easy to install and use too, and right now you can get one for a steal during their Black Friday sale!

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Yes, you read that right…

Modern Homesteading Magazine is coming to an end.

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And so this final farewell issue is bittersweet. On the one hand, it’s the first ever annual issue, with 100 pages packed with brand new content that celebrates the best of the past 32 issues!

And it’s the first issue I’ve ever offered in PRINT!

But on the other hand, it marks the end of an era, and of this publication that I’ve absolutely had the pleasure of creating and sharing with you.

If you’re a digital subscriber, you will not be charged a renewal fee going forward, and will continue to have access to the digital library until your subscription runs out. As part of your subscription, you’re able to download and/or print each issue of you like, so that you never lose access to the hundreds of articles and vast amount of information in each issue.

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I’m also still taking preorders for the print version of this special edition issue, but only for a few more weeks!

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💰 Saves you money at the grocery store
🍴 Healthier than conventionally grown food
🔑 increases your overall food security
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But perhaps the number one reason is because it just tastes better!

Not only does food taste better when it’s freshly picked or allowed to ripen on the vine, there’s something about putting in the work to grow something from a tiny seed and then getting to see it on your dinner plate that just makes it so much more satisfying than anything you’ll ever buy from the store.

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If you’ve been watching events unfold over the past few years and you’re feeling called to start “cutting ties” with the system and begin reclaiming your independence, The Society of Self-Reliance was made for you!

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🌱 Food Security and Self-Sufficiency: Learn the art of growing and preserving your own food, ensuring you and your loved ones have access to nutritious meals year-round.

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I only open the doors to The Society once or twice each year, but right now, for one week only, you can become a member for just $20/month (or $200/year).

In today’s world, self-reliance is no longer a luxury, a “cute hobby,” it’s a necessity. Join us inside The Society of Self-Reliance and empower yourself with the skills you need to thrive in the new world!

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Got out for an early morning harvest today. Been up since 3am, contemplating life, the future and the past, the order of things…

There is a rumbling right now, not just in North America, but around the world. Many of us can feel it, and know we are on the precipice of something big.

I’d been hearing about this new song that’s become an overnight viral sensation, written by an (until now) unknown singer named Oliver Anthony. His new song Rich Men North of Richmond has had 14 million views on YouTube in the past week alone, so I decided to check it out.

I also saw a clip of him playing a Farmers Market last week, and anything that has to do with Farmers Markets always has my attention;)

I can’t tell you how many tears I’ve already cried listening to that song. If you’ve heard it already, you probably know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t, I highly recommend giving it a listen. All I can say is it’s been a while since a song resonated so deeply with me, and in this strange new world, I know I’m not the only one.

One of the lines in Anthony’s song is “Livin’ in the new world, with an old soul,” and that’s something I think so many of us in the homesteading community can relate to.

Trying to cling to better days; To a simpler time; To the old ways, all while doing our best to get by in the new world.

The world has changed drastically in the last few years especially, and it’s set to change in immense ways over the next few years. Today I’m feeling thankful for people like @oliver_anthony_music_ who give a voice to what so many are feeling right now.

Know that if you’re feeling it too, you’re far from alone. And while the future may feel uncertain and even a little scary, remember that if we stand united, we the people are a force to be reckoned with.

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Another garlic harvest in the books!

Garlic is easily one of my favourite crops to grow. It’s pretty much a “set if and forget it” crop. We plant in the fall and leave it to overwinter, fertilize a couple times in the spring, start watering only once the ground starts to dry out, and then harvest in the summer. We can even plant a fall succession crop after our garlic if we want so it really makes great use of garden space all year round.

Over the years we’ve managed to become completely self-sufficient with garlic. We now grow enough to eat all year (and then some!), plus we save our own seed garlic and usually have extra to sell or give away. And around here fresh, organic garlic ain’t cheap, so it’s a good cash crop for anyone who’s serious about selling it.

It took me a few years to really get the hang of garlic, but it’s one crop I’m now very confident with (knock on wood, because it’s always when we make statements like this that next year’s crop fails! Lol.)

A while back I compiled a comprehensive guide to growing, harvesting and using garlic both as an edible and medicinal crop. This is usually only available as part of a paid bundle (or in the fall 2022 issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine if you’re a subscriber;), but for a limited time I’m offering it for free, no strings attached!

Plus you’ll also get access to my step-by-step video lesson on planting garlic so you can set yourself up for success with your garlic crop this year.

Comment “Garlic” below or head to thehouseandhomestead.com/garlic-guide to get your free copy!
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#garlic #garlicharvest #homesteading #selfsufficient #selfsufficiency #selfsufficientliving #selfreliance #homegrown #groworganic #growfoodnotlawns #gardenersofinstagram #homesteadersofinstagram
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Going through photos and videos from our trip to the @modernhomesteadingconference and the vast majority are of our daughter having the time of her life!

Even if I personally got nothing else out of this gathering (which I most certainly did), watching her discover her own love of this lifestyle outside of what we do at home made my heart grow three sizes!

Homesteading is about so much more than homegrown food and self-reliance. It’s about passing on invaluable skills and an understanding of and respect for our connection to the land that provides for us to the next generation.

Being around so many other kids and families who are also pursuing a homesteading lifestyle helped show our little one that this is a movement that is so much bigger and greater than what our own family does on our little plot of land. This is a lifestyle worth pursuing, with a community unlike any other.

Glad to be back home and more excited than ever to involve my kids in everything we’re doing. But also, I think I speak for my whole family when I say we can’t wait to go back someday!
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#homesteading #modernhomesteading #raisinglittles
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If you’re simply looking for ways to save a little extra cash this summer and live well for less, here are 12 tried and tested frugal living tips for summer that you can use to save money this season without sacrificing a thing.
Head over using the link in my bio!
https://thehouseandhomestead.com/12-frugal-living-tips-summer/
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#houseandhomestead
#momentsofcalm
#pursuejoy
#simplepleasuresoflife
#thatauthenticfeeling
#findhappiness
#artofslowliving
#simplelifepleasures
#lifesimplepleasure
#simplepleasuresinlife
#thatauthenticlife
#authenticlifestyle
#liveanauthenticlife
#livinginspired
#savouringhappiness
#livemoment
#localgoodness
#simplelive
#lifeouthere
#enjoywhatyouhave
#frugallifestyle
#homesteadingmama
#offgridhomestead
#modernfarmhousekitchen
#crunchymama
#rusticfarmhouse
#farmhouseinspo
#farmhouselife
#modernhomesteading
#backyardfarmer
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