You haven’t tasted a genuine tomato if you’ve never bitten into one that has a delicious, vine-ripened, sun-warmed flavor produced right in your own backyard.
You’ll never be satisfied with mealy supermarket imitations again once you’ve experienced the wonderful taste of real tomatoes. Tomato plants are easy to grow and are bountiful.
What Month Do You Plant Tomato Seeds
Sow your tomato seeds in March or April, two to six weeks before the final frost of the winter, or sooner if you’re growing them in a greenhouse.
Tomatoes are long-season, heat-loving plants that dislike cold, so it’s wise to plant them as transplants (young plants) after the weather has warmed up in spring.
How Long Does It Take To Grow Tomatoes From Seed
To produce tomatoes from seed, you must wait six to eight weeks after sowing. Overgrown seedlings are the result of starting seeds indoors too early. I aim to transplant my seedlings into the soil approximately a week after my last anticipated spring frost date.
5 Steps To Start Growing Tomatoes From Seed At Home:
- Tomato seeds
- Sterile potting soil for seed starting
- Sterile seed starting pots
- A warm place with sufficient natural light or grow lights
There are hundreds of tomato cultivars available as seeds, and picking a few for your personal garden may be difficult. Here are a few things to think about:
- Determine the sort of tomatoes you want, such as cherry tomatoes, slicers, or tomatoes for making sauce or paste.
- Consider the size of the mature plants. Tomatoes are best cultivated in containers if they are determinate, reaching a height of about 3 feet. Indeterminate tomatoes can reach a height of up to 6 feet tall.
- Look for disease resistance. Tomatoes are susceptible to a variety of diseases, some of which may or may not be an issue in your region.
Although it’s known as “potting soil,” the ideal medium for seed germination has no soil at all. Use a sterile, soilless mix designed for seed starting. Never use garden soil, which may drain poorly and harbor disease spores.
You can start your seeds in a variety of items, including egg cartons with holes cut in the bottoms. However, I’ve discovered that commercial pots, such as biodegradable pots and seed-starting trays, are more convenient.
Seeds germinate best at 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit; bottom heat with a heat mat may assist them in sprouting more quickly. Seedlings flourish better when kept at a temperature of 65 degrees F.
Although you may start your tomatoes on a sunny windowsill, they will thrive better in an LED grow light. Winter and early spring sunshine aren’t as strong as summer sunlight, and there are fewer hours of daylight. Inadequate lighting might cause weak, spindly plants. A light garden with adjustable lights is perfect for growing seeds.
Step-By-Step Tomato Seed Starting
- Fill the containers to within 1/2″ of the top and thoroughly moisten the seed-starting mix. Compress the mix but not excessively.
- Place two or three seeds in each tiny container or each seed cell of a seed starter. Cover the seed with 1/4″ of soil and firmly press it down on top of the seeds.
- A simple way to ensure good seed-to-mix contact is to soak the soil with water. You can either use a plant mister or just drip a stream of water over the top. It’s not necessary to wet the earth; simply moisten the upper layer.
- Set the pots in a warm location or on top of a heat mat. At this time, the seeds don’t require any light.
- Always keep the mix wet, but not sodden. If your seed-starting system includes a greenhouse top, set it on end to collect moisture. Alternatively, cover the tops of the pots with plastic kitchen wrap.
- Check on your plants at least once a day. As soon as you see sprouts, remove the cover and put the pots in a sunny window or under grow lights, keeping the lights about an inch or two above the tops of the plants.
Continue to water the soil, but don’t let it get soggy. The lighter color of dry seed-starting mix indicates that it needs watering, as opposed to moist mix. Some gardeners utilize a fan in the room where their seedlings are growing; good air circulation reduces the risk of damping off.
If you’re growing plants on a window sill, turn them every day to ensure that they grow upright instead of leaning toward the light. Raise the lights as your plants expand, keeping them just a few inches above the foliage.
You’ll need only one seedling per pot or cell for the healthiest, fittest plants. Many gardeners are hesitant to get rid of the seedlings they’ve been nurturing due to a fear of thinning (removing extra seedlings).
It is, however, critical that it be done. Choose the most robust and healthy seedling and snap off the rest at the soil line with a pair of scissors. You might try moving the extras to new containers, but you run the risk of disturbing the roots of the main plant, and, realistically, how many tomato plants can your garden take?
Once the second set of real leaves appears, it’s time to start fertilizing. “Seed leaves” are the first two leaves, which are known as such because they contain seeds. Apply a regular water-soluble fertilizer once or twice a week at half the recommended dose.
If your tomatoes outgrow their pots before they’re ready to transplant outdoors, they may need to be transplanted to bigger containers. Don’t let the plant get pot-bound with its roots filling up the container; growth can be restricted.
Wait to plant your tomato seedlings in the garden until after the average last spring frost date. If a late frost threatens, be prepared to cover the seedlings with season-extending garden fabric, row covers or plant covers. You should be able to harvest ripe tomatoes in eight weeks or less if everything goes well.