How to Grow Tomatoes From Seed in 6 Easy Steps | Gardener’s Path

A vertical picture showing small peat seed starting pots containing young seedlings set on a red rustic surface. To the center and bottom of the frame is green and white text.A collage of photos showing tomato seeds and young seedlings growing in peat pots
It ’ s pretty easily and convenient to pick up a pack of tomato seedlings from your local anesthetic garden center and plug them into the soil .
so you might wonder, what are the advantages of starting these veggies from sow ?

The first rationality that comes to mind is that starting your own tomatoes from seed at home is a effective direction to save money, leaving board in your gardening budget for early things .
You can typically buy a package of about 20 seeds for the monetary value of one seedling .
A vertical picture showing small peat seed starting pots containing young seedlings set on a red rustic surface. To the center and bottom of the frame is green and white text. We link to vendors to help you find relevant products. If you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission .
But the actual motivate factor for me and many other gardeners is that starting tomato seeds at home opens up a dizzy selection of varieties for us to choose from – including less common cultivars we ’ re improbable to find as transplants at our local plant nurseries .
so, whether you ’ rhenium looking for a blue, elephantine, sweet slicer or a tiny, tart cherry, there ’ s an incredible array of colors, shapes, ripening styles, culinary uses, and flavors to choose from when you start your tomatoes from semen .
A close up of hands holding a black wire basket full of freshly harvested tomatoes of various shapes, sizes, and colors. Best of all, growing tomato starts very international relations and security network ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate that hard !
And if you follow good a handful of smart steps that I ’ ve outlined below, you ’ ll keep your starts happy and goodly – providing a bumper crop of lush homegrown tomatoes that are practically guaranteed to taste far better than anything you could buy from your local supermarket .
Below you ’ ll find a footprint by step tutorial for growing these warm weather veggies from seed. But first, I ’ ll get you know what kind of essential ( and optional ) supplies you ’ ll necessitate for this garden plan .
here ’ s an overview of what I ’ ll cover :

Gather Your Supplies

Before you dive in, beginning things first. In cooking for growing your own tomatoes at home from seed, you ’ ll indigence to gather some supplies .
Some of these are necessities, such as the seeds, starting desegregate or soil, containers, and a spray bottle .
A top down picture of some gardening supplies needed to start vegetable seeds, including pots, soil, a misting bottle, and plant markers set on a wooden surface.Photo by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin. Supplies like plant markers, a widger, and a germination post are highly recommend, but there are many options for you to choose from for these, including some DIY possibilities .
There are besides a copulate of items on this supply list – grow lights and heat mats – that may be luxury bonus items, or may be required, depending on your setup .
Alright, let ’ s go over the list of what you ’ ll need, why you need it, and where you can reference these items. ready ?

Tomato Seeds

If you ’ re growing tomatoes from seed at home, you ’ ll probably want to take advantage of your increased options and grow some varieties that you wouldn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate be able to buy as transplants at your local nursery .
A top down close up picture of a large harvest of various different types of tomato in an array of colors, shapes, and sizes, set on a gray background. Seed catalogs contain a huge choice of varieties including short season, long season, determinate and indeterminate, cherry, grape, plum, cocktail, beefsteak, paste, heirloom, open-pollinated, hybrid, potato leaf, red, green, scandalmongering, orange, indigo, purple, bootleg, white, and even striped tomatoes .
Whew ! Get my point ? There are a fortune of options out there !
A top down close up picture of a variety of seed packets set on a wooden surface.Photo by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin. If you could use some help sorting through the countless options, we ’ ve got you covered .
Feel spare to consult our articles for helpful recommendations detailing the advantages of some of the best heirloom cultivars, our favorite hybrid varieties, and the types best suited to canning .
But if you ’ re not in the temper for decision-making ( I know how it is, we all have our moments ) and want fair one individual recommendation, I ’ ve got one for you .
I suggest one of my favorite heirloom cultivars, the gorgeous ‘Cherokee Purple. ’ This is a beefsteak style tomato with reasonably, purple-red clamber that stays green around the stem turn .
A close up of a large 'Cherokee Purple' tomato with red skin that is green around the stem, on a soft focus background. The boastfully fruits can weigh up to one impound each, and have dense, fat flesh. Providing a change from the typical bolshevik varieties, the human body of this one is black, with seeds surrounded by fleeceable gel .
I confess – when I cut one of these up, I become mesmerized by its colors .
A close up of a sliced 'Cherokee Purple' tomato, surrounded by herbs and set on a wooden surface. ‘Cherokee Purple’
The spirit of this heirloom is sweet and slightly smoky, ready to add luminosity and an intriguing depth to your summer meals .
If ‘ Cherokee Purple ’ tempts both your taste buds and your love of garden, you can find packs of license constituent seeds available at Eden Brothers .
And if you ’ re wondering how many plants to grow, I recommend starting at least six of each variety – the number of cells in a typical starter tray .
If you were to only plant one tomato seed and it doesn ’ triiodothyronine evolve, you ’ ll be disappointed and wonder what it was you did incorrectly, while it could fair be that the individual semen was not feasible .
With seeds, we ’ re all about maximizing our options !
A top down close up picture of a black plastic seed starting tray with four cells, containing rich potting soil and tiny shoots just emerging, set on a wooden surface.Photo by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin. Some varieties have a lower germination rate – and seed sellers don ’ metric ton always print these germination rates on semen packets, so you won ’ thyroxine constantly know what to expect in terms of germination .
Planting a few extra will help you make up for any losses, particularly with types known for having lower rates of successful germination .
And by the way, if you have some old packs of tomato seeds sitting around and are wondering if they ’ re still functional, check the date on the mailboat. If stored correctly, in a dry, dark, and cool location, they will remain viable for five years after harvest .

Starting Mix

To sow your seeds, you can use either potting dirt or a soilless starting desegregate – fair check your mailboat to make certain your territory or starting mix is aseptic .
A close up of a white bowl containing rich dark potting soil, set on a wooden surface with biodegradable seed starting pots in the background in soft focus.Photo by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin. regular garden territory that has not been sterilized can compromise the health of your unseasoned tomato plants, potentially introducing harmful pathogens, such as those that cause damping off .
If this condition occurs, you ’ ll notice the stems of your starts browning just above the dirt line. The stem will shrivel, and the young plants will collapse and die .
You can read more about protecting your baby tomatoes from damping off in this article, precisely remember that starting out with sterile potting media is your first occupation of defensive structure. ( And the future is to make sure you do not overwater – but I ’ ll induce to that curtly. )

Starter Trays

You have many different options when it comes to what type of containers to use as starter trays .
You can purchase plastic or biodegradable trays that are specifically intended for growing starts .
A close up of a variety of seedlings in different types of trays and biodegradable pots on a white background. Or you can repurpose testis cartons, toilet paper rolls, newspaper or plastic cups, or closely any other shallow container that will hold your potting mix .
Whatever type of container you use to start your seedlings, make certain it provides estimable drain – if your tomatoes ’ roots stay besides wet, they will be more susceptible to diseases such as “ damping off. ”
Photo by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin. besides make surely the containers are not besides big. For tomatoes, it ’ sulfur best to start with a smaller container and transplant to a larger container when you need to, as the excess dirty might stay besides besotted .

DIY Seed Trays

I tried the DIY egg carton and toilet paper peal methods years ago, and while this creative recycle scores points for the environment, these aren ’ t my favorite newcomer tray alternatives .
Cardboard egg cartons may work for smaller starts, but tomatoes will outgrow their shallow cells very quickly .
A close up of homemade seed starter pots from toilet paper rolls containing small green sprouts on a soft focus background. And the year I tried using toilet newspaper rolls as seed cups, they started falling apart well before the tomatoes were ready to transplant. I can ’ t very give a hearty recommendation to either of these options .
You can get creative and find early containers to start your tomato seeds in, but if you want to hedge your bets, your best option may be to purchase seed trays intended for this aim .

Plastic Seed Trays

When choosing your seed trays, make indisputable your blame works well for your climate .
In my arid climate, biodegradable trays and pots simply don ’ thyroxine biodegrade – and, yes, I found this out the hard room. now I stick with credit card trays, which have the bonus of preventing my starts from drying out excessively quickly between waterings .
A close up of two hands holding black plastic seedling trays containing flowering plants. 6 Cell Seed Starter Trays in Packs of 10
If plastic seems like the best option for you besides, these six-celled trays are an excellent gardening issue for growing starts. Each cell is 1.5 inches square by 2 3/4 inches abstruse – a thoroughly size for your neonate plants .
You can find them in packs of 10 trays at Burpee .

Reusing Plastic Seed Trays

If you ’ re wondering if you can reuse plastic seed trays and pots, the answer is yes. Just make sure to thoroughly wash them out with hot, buttery water, rinse thoroughly, and then disinfect them .
I recommend a hydrogen peroxide based disinfectant over chlorine-based family bleach, since chlorine bleach can be debatable .
A close up of plastic seed starter trays being washed in hydrogen peroxide solution in a glass bowl.Photo by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin. According to an article published by the Baxter County Master Gardeners, chlorine bleach can damage your garden tools and annoy or burn your skin, inhaling the vapor can aggravate certain checkup conditions, and it may prove toxic to your plants if any residue remains. This family cleaner actually is not ampere harmless as we might think, despite its far-flung use .
ZeroTol HC antifungal is a good alternative to chlorine bleaching agent .
It contains hydrogen peroxide so it is safe to use on pots, tools, and other surfaces, and it will kill pathogens that cause plant diseases – including those responsible for damping off – when used as mastermind .
A close up vertical image of a bottle of ZeroTol HC isolated on a white background. ZeroTol HC
You can find ZeroTol HC concentrate available for purchase in one-gallon containers at Arbico Organics .
Always use as directed .

Biodegradable Seed Trays

If you live in a moderate climate, choosing biodegradable semen trays and pots is a fantastic manner to go, since you can plant these directly into the grind or into the adjacent size greenhouse pot without disturbing your plant ’ second delicate roots .
A close up top down picture of small green shoots growing in biodegradable pots on a soft focus background. angstrom army for the liberation of rwanda as biodegradable trays and pots go, I highly recommend CowPots™, a more environmentally friendly choice than those made from peat moss .
CowPots™ are made from compost cow manure sourced from a Vermont dairy grow – and not entirely do they have a light environmental footprint since they reuse pine away material, once you establish them, they will nourish your plants as they break down .
A close up of biodegradable Cow Pots in a six-cell tray showing the dimensions on a white background. CowPots™ #3 Six Cell Flat
You can find six-celled CowPots™ trays in packs of assorted quantities at Arbico Organics. Each cell in the tray is approximately three inches square by three inches bass .

Nursery Pots

Tomatoes can grow quickly, so having larger-sized nursery pots on hand for repot is besides a good idea .
A close up of a selection of paper cups filled with soil and seedlings, with wooden plant markers set on a wooden surface.Photo by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin. I ’ ve successfully used both credit card nursery pots and paper cups for this purpose .
And barely like the biodegradable seed trays mentioned above, CowPots™ are besides available in larger size for repotting .
A close up of the dimensions of the Cow Pot biodegradable nursery pots on a white background. CowPots™ #5 Square
You can find square CowPots™ sized at 5.25 by 3.5 by 5 inches in packs of 60 or 192 pots at Arbico Organics .
Or possibly plastic pots are more suitable for your needs ?
A close up of a selection of black plastic nursery pots with one standing upright and several stacked, on a white background. Pack of 20 Round Nursery Pots
You can find packs of 10 or 20 plastic nursery pots, measuring 7 inches wide by 6 3/4 inches deep, at Home Depot .

Germination Station

For germination, tomatoes require inflame and high humidity – conditions that create a greenhouse effect. In other words, they need a warm and humid germination station .
A close up of two rows of tomatoes growing in a large domed greenhouse with condensation on the walls and a pathway in between the rows. There are a few options you can choose from to create a humid, ardent environment for your tomatoes – and your choices range from the highly broken budget to the unplayful long-run gardening investment .

Plastic Wrap

If you want to keep your spend broken for this project, you can create greenhouse conditions by covering your seed trays with fictile envelop .
A close up of a hand placing plastic cling wrap over a red tray containing soil. If you decide to go this route, make surely to leave a small extra room between the territory surface and the tops of your seed trays, so your baby tomatoes don ’ t immediately bump their heads on the credit card adenine soon as they sprout .
And remember to remove the formative wrapping soon after your sprouts poke their heads up above the dirt, to ensure air circulation and reduce the risk of damping off .

Domed Growing Trays

A domed growing tray is a fairly cheap choice for growing starts, particularly if you ’ rhenium not surely you want to invest in equipment for the long term .
A close up of a black plastic seed starting tray set on a gray surface with a white plastic drip tray and a transparent humidity dome, with a wooden fence in the background. To the bottom right of the frame is a white circular logo with text. 12-cell Growing Tray with Plastic Humidity Dome
These germination stations come with a flat for holding your seed trays, and a credit card dome to retain estrus and humidity .
You can find a 12-cell growing tray with a drip tray and absolved humidity dome from True Leaf Market .


I grow my starts in a terrarium – a mini greenhouse – placed adjacent to a cheery and warm south-facing window .
A close up of four young plants in plastic pots with further plants in a terrarium in the background in soft focus.Photo by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin. My young tomatoes get enough of heat and humidity this way – and they are protected from my curious cats .
While I have a couple of repurposed reptile terrariums that I use, my darling terrarium is a more cosmetic model .
It has more ventilation and doesn ’ t stay quite arsenic humid as the reptile terrariums, but I have had no problem evolve and growing tomato starts in it .

Cold Frame

You don ’ t have to start your tomatoes indoors – you could start them in a cold frame rather, if your temperatures are right .
This setup works peculiarly well if you receive a batch of warming sunlight in the spring, but not thus well if your spring weather is glooming and showery, or besides cold .
A vertical picture of a wooden cold frame partly open in the garden outside a wooden shed with a metal roof with trees in soft focus in the background. A cold human body will work if you can keep the department of the interior conditions between 50 and 95°F, with the best temperature image for germination being between 65 and 85°F .
Set up your coldness frame facing full south where it will get direct sunlight, providing your youthful starts with both light and inflame .
A close up of an outdoor wooden cold frame containing salad greens. You can read about making your cold own frame in our article on some of the best DIY greenhouses and cold frames for your backyard .
Cold frames may come with built-in breathing, or you can prop them open to ventilate and prevent interior temperatures from getting besides blistering during the heating system of the day .
A close up of an outdoor mini greenhouse or cold frame with a selection of lettuces growing inside on a white background. Juwel 59″ Vented Cold Frame
If a cold frame seems like the best option for you, you may want to try this 59-inch vent polycarbonate model from Juwel. It ’ s available from Home Depot .


If you want the best setup of all for growing your own tomatoes from seeded player, a greenhouse is the ultimate choice – and will give you the space to start an endless choice of cultivars of your front-runner summer veggies .
A close up of a large black tray of young plants growing in a greenhouse on a soft focus background. If you ’ ra lucky enough to already have a greenhouse as part of your garden frame-up, growing your starts in your greenhouse is decidedly the way to go, since you can use it to provide the light, heat, and humidity they need .
barely make certain you avoid the most common greenhouse mistakes – read our helpful article on this capable to learn more .
If the idea of setting up a greenhouse has your green flick twitch, you might consider making a DIY greenhouse out of pallet racking .

Plant Markers

implant markers are a must have if, like me, you plan to start your own personal mini nursery each give, growing several different varieties of tomatoes a well as many other types of vegetables and herbs .
Without markers to label them all, how will you keep track of your starts ?
A close up of a variety of young plants in black plastic pots labelled with plant markers for sale at a farmer's market. If you are only starting one variety show of tomato and no other types of veggies, you can credibly get by without plant markers .
And if you are using something like egg cartons or paper cups to grow in, you could fair write the name of your establish and the date immediately on the container .
however, using plant markers gives you a clean ocular sign of what diverseness you are growing and the date seeds were sown ( excellent items to note in your gardening journal, as well ) .
A close up of round seedling pots with wooden plant markers stuck into the soil on a white background. You can make your own plant markers out of use ice lolly sticks, or you can buy markers intended specifically for this aim – made either out of alloy, wood, or credit card .
While the wooden ones are biodegradable, the plastic ones have more recycle potential since they don ’ metric ton break down as promptly, and you can wash off the spell .

Pack of 100 4″ Plant Markers
You ’ ll find a pack of 100 reclaimable four-inch plastic markers available via Amazon.

Spray Bottle

While you can water your seedlings with a small water can, jar, teapot, cup, or whatever else is handy, using a spray bottle will give you much greater control over how much irrigation you are providing, and aid to prevent overwatering .
In fact, compensate water is such an crucial view of growing tomatoes from sow that I consider a spray bottle to be fair american samoa significant to have on hand as a good quality starting medium .
A close up of a hand from the left of the frame holding a spray bottle and spraying water onto small shoots growing black plastic trays with a wooden surface in the background. There are a match of reasons why watering in this manner is preferred .
According to Barbara Larson, Unit Educator at the University of Illinois Extension, the beginning is that excessively wet potting mix can promote fungal disease. Waterlogged land may besides remain excessively cool after watering, preventing seed germination and slowing root growth .
You can use a plain formative spray bottle, or a glass one. If you plan to repurpose an empty family spray bottle, lone select one to upcycle that has never contained harsh chemicals, since chemical residues can damage your starts .


When removing your young tomatoes from their trays to transplant, you will need some direction to lift them out without pulling them by the stems. A widger is one such cock you can use to perform this tax without injuring your baby plants .
Photo by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin. To use this instrument, you stick the widger into the dirt and under the roots of the seedling to lift it out of its tray – without damaging its roots .
As a DIY alternate, you could besides use a small spoon, a ice lolly adhere, or a wooden plant marker to leverage your plant out of its growing cell .

Grow Lights

I grow my seedlings next to a couple of very cheery, south-facing windows. These provide enough of sunlight and heat for my plants as they grow and mature .
A close up of three green planters containing young plants set on a sunny windowsill in light sunshine. But not all climates or home situations will allow you to take advantage of free light and heat from the sun. so, if you are facing such challenges, you might want to consider using grow lights .
Grow lights have an extra advantage, even if you do have a nice cheery window :
Since they are placed just a few inches above the growing plants, plants will grow stockier and bushier compared to their growth next to a windowpane .
Grow lights besides encourage plants to grow straight up towards the viewgraph light reference rather of leaning .
A close up of tiny young shoots in a pot reaching towards the light of a sunny windowsill on a soft focus background. Plants grown following to a window frequently reach sideways towards the sun – a problem that can be remedied by rotating your plants regularly .
But they do tend to grow leggier even with regular rotation, as they reach toward the ignite .
To learn more about grow lights, have a look at our article on some of the best models available and how to use them .

Heat Mat

A heating system mat can help to keep the land at the veracious temperature for germination. Having one of these is particularly utilitarian to gardeners in cold or showery climates, where you can ’ t trust on the sun to keep your young plants at the right temperature .
A close up of a tiny seedling with the first true leaves starting to appear with rich, dark soil in soft focus in the background.Tomato plant with its first set of true leaves. And do you remember what the right temperature is ?
That would be 65 to 85°F for germination .
According to Barbara Lawson at the University of Illinois Extension, lowering the temperature after the first gear dress of on-key leaves appear helps to promote shorter and stockier growth with stronger stems .
A close up of a Jump Start heat mat with green text and a power cord, on a white background. Jump Start Windowsill Heat Mat
If it sounds like you could use a heat mat to help regulate the temperature in your growing operation, the Jump Start Windowsill Heat Mat will warm your plants ’ roots 10 to 20°F higher than the ambient room temperature .
You can find it available via Amazon .

6 Steps to Growing Tomato from Seed

now that you have all your supplies gathered up, you ’ re about quick to start your tomatoes .
A close up of four young tomato plants ready to transplant into nursery pots set on a wooden surface.Photo by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin. There ’ mho just one more crucial pace to take care of before you get your hands dirty :
Getting the clock right .

1. Know When to Sow

It ’ s significant to know when to start your tomato seeds, in ordering to plant them out at the best time and get the best harvest .
The best time to transplant these summer veggies is a pair of weeks after your average final frost date .
Planting a couple of weeks after this date helps to provide a little wiggle room in case a freak out recently frost decides to sweep through your area .
A close up of a small young plant covered in a light frost on a soft focus background. first, determine the average survive freeze date for your area .
If you don ’ thyroxine already know it, you can look it up at the Old Farmer’s Almanac. Just type in your travel rapidly code and the joyride will calculate your average last frost date and display it on the screen. easy !
Most seed packets recommend starting tomato seeds four to six weeks before your last frost date, but they assume you will set out your transplants close to this date. We ’ re going to be a moment more timid than that .
If you get started just four weeks before your last frost, then your starts should be ready for transplanting two weeks after your concluding frost. Make smell ?
so, take your last frost date and count back four weeks. This is when you should begin your tomato source starting project .
Learn more about when ’ s the best meter to sow vegetable seeds indoors and outdoors in this helpful steer .

2. Prepare Trays and Sow Seeds

now you ’ re last ready to get started, so let ’ mho function .
Place some starting mix in your sow trays. Fill each cell broadly, then lightly tap the tray to remove any air pockets .
A close up of a six-cell black plastic planting tray set on a wooden surface on a soft focus background.Photo by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin. You want the dirt to fill in the cells without becoming compacted. unaffixed land will allow your plants ’ roots to spread out nicely, but compacted dirt will not .
gently smooth the surface of the dirt to make it level. Leave three quarters of an column inch of head space at the clear of the cells, above the land line .

Sow Seeds

Shake out some seeds from your seed packet into your hand .
To make up for any that may not germinate, plan to sow two to three seeds per cell .
place one seed on the surface of the dirt, and repeat with the others, spacing them out an equal distance from each other .
A close up of a hand from the top of the frame sowing tiny seeds into a 6-cell planting tray set on a wooden surface.Photo by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin. Grab a pinch of sterile planting medium and sprinkle it over the seeds – cover them with about a quarter of an edge of starting shuffle .
now, gently pat the surface of the land to smooth it .

Water Gently

Water your seeds in with your spray bottle, spraying until the land is damp, but not waterlogged. For me, this means about four or five squirts .
A hand from the left of the frame using a plastic spray bottle to water a six cell tray containing seeds that have just been sown, set on a wooden surface.Photo by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin. When your plants get larger, after repotting, you will want to urine more thoroughly, with a small water can or teapot .
A close up of a plastic tray with six cells and wooden plant markers set on a wooden surface with a seed packet to the left of the frame.Photo by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin. Write the name of your kind and the date seeds were sown on as many seed markers as you need, and stick them in the tray along the boundary of the cell, away from where you placed your seeds .

3. Move to the Germination Station

Place your seed trays in their ardent and humid growing location – your “ germination station ” – whether this is your greenhouse, cold frame, terrarium, grow dome, or barely under some credit card wrap .
If your source tray is placed following to a warm window, you may not need a heat mat. But if you do need extra inflame to maintain the dirty in your trays at the recommend 65 to 85°F, locate a heat mat underneath them .
You won ’ t need to expose your trays to light until the tomatoes sprout. Though some types of seeds require light for germination, tomatoes do not .
Check your trays once or twice a day, and water with your spray bottle when the coat of the soil is dry .
A close up of a tiny seedling just starting to germinate with dark soil in soft focus in the background.Photo by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin. Within a week or two, germination will take place. bantam seedlings will rise out of the territory, possibly holding the seed cases they fair emerged from aloft on one of their seed leaves, or cotyledons .
If you used credit card wrap over your semen trays, remove it now .

Provide Light

Make sure you are ready to provide light to your newly emerged tomatoes – whether it ’ s sunlight from a bright, southern window or artificial light from a grow light .
If you are using a grow light, place it two to three inches above your starts .
When using a window for light, your plants will lean towards the window. To correct for this and get your plants to straighten out, rotate your seed trays every few days .
If your “ germination station ” is a greenhouse, cold frame, terrarium, or domed tray, you can leave your plants there to grow .

4. Daily Care of Your Seedlings

You will need to care for your youthful tomatoes every sidereal day .

  • Water once or twice a day with your spray bottle when the surface of the soil is dry.
  • When starts are bigger and require more water, switch to a small watering can or teapot.
  • Ventilate your germination station so it doesn’t get too hot. Interior temperatures over 95°F will stunt growth.

optionally, you can expose your young tomatoes to the breeze of a gentle fan, or lightly brush your hands over their leaves a few times a day. The purpose of this is to simulate wind and help strengthen their stems .

Thin Your Starts

If the majority of your seeds germinate and you end up with two or three plants growing in each cell of your tray, you may need to thin them .
A close up of young plants in a plastic tray showing them planted very close together.Photo by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin. If your seedlings are getting big and their roots are getting tangled, it ’ second best to sacrifice some of them and keep only the strongest plant in each cell .
If you will be repotting your seedlings in the next step, you can thin them at the same meter .
The safest way to do this to avoid disrupting the roots of your remaining plant is to use a small pair of scissors to snip the stems of the rejects, just above the dirt line .
A close up of a hand from the left of the frame holding a pair of scissors snipping off a weaker seedling in order to thin the plants in the small plastic tray.Photo by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin. Continue snipping until you have just one potent tomato seedling remaining in each cell .
If seedlings are not excessively crowded when you ’ re quick to repot or transplant into the garden, and all of them look firm and healthy, you should be able to gently remove each of them from the territory for repotting without culling any .

5. Repot and Harden Off

once your baby tomatoes have at least two or three sets of true leaves, they can be transplanted into larger sized nursery pots – unless you are quick to transplant them directly into the garden or their summer containers .
A close up of a white nursery pot filled with soil to the left of the frame, and to the right is a small two cell tray with transplants set on a wooden surface.Photo by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin. Repotting will give your tomatoes more room for root growth .
A close up top down picture of two containers filled with rich potting soil set on a wooden surface.Photo by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin. Prepare your greenhouse pot. Fill it center with potting mix. Tap the pot to let the soil settle, but not so much that it becomes compacted .

Repotting from Biodegradable Seed Trays

If you started with a biodegradable tray, use a copulate of scissors to cut the cells apart so you have separate pots to plant .
Trim down the rim of each cell so it is level with the dirty .
target a biodegradable tray cell directly into the larger size toilet, being careful not to tear it. Add potting shuffle so it ’ randomness level with the territory of the transplant. recur with the rest of your seedlings .

Repotting from Non-Biodegradable Seed Trays

gently remove tomato seedlings from the tray one at a prison term with a small spoon or widger. Place the spoon as far down into the cell as possible to avoid damaging the roots .
A close up of a hand from the right of the frame holding a spoon and gently lifting out a young plant from a black plastic tray set on a wooden surface.Photo by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin. Pull up with the smooch – your tomato should be freed from its foremost container !
A close up of a hand from the left of the frame holding the roots of a seedling on a soft focus background.Photo by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin. Hold the dirt alternatively of holding the seedling by its stalk, which is susceptible to disease if it ’ mho by chance bruised or damaged .

Bury Your Stem

now you ’ re cook to place your tomatoes into their new pots .
Tomatoes are one of the few plants that do well when their stems are buried deeply in the dirt. This can introduce decomposition in early plants, but if you sink part of a tomato ’ south stalk in the land or bury it, the hairs on the stem will turn into adventitious roots .
A close up of the hairy stems of a tomato plant in a black container on a soft focus background.Photo by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin. Remove any lower leaves from the bed two-thirds of the root, and make certain the tomato hush has at least two sets of leaves above the soil. And leave enough stalk free so that there are at least a few inches between the land and the leaves .
Add more land until there is only a half an inch or sol of point space at the top of the greenhouse potentiometer, tap the pot gently to settle the dirty, then water with your spray bottle or water can .
If the root ball is inactive little and fibrous, fill your nursery pot with land and tap to settle the land, until there is an edge or so of room left at the top .
Poke a hole into the middle of the soil with your finger .
A close up of a hand from the left of the frame making a small hole in the soil of a white container set on a wooden surface.Photo by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin. place the young tomato into the trap, sinking it down ampere profoundly as possible without bending the stem .
A hand from the left of the frame gently burying a seedling in a white container set on a wooden surface.Photo by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin. Add dirt, filling the hole and the greenhouse batch. lightly tap the pot on your work surface to settle the territory, until there ’ second about half an edge of room at the top of the pot .
A close up of a hand from the left of the frame putting soil around a young plant in a white circular container set on a wooden surface.Photo by Kristina Hicks-Hamblin. Water your repotted tomato and return it to its germination post, space it adjacent to a cheery southerly windowpane, or place it under your grow lights, keeping the abstemious 2-3 inches aside from the lead of the plant .
As you approach your transplant date, continue with your day by day care .

Harden Off

Your next pace will be to give your tomatoes a passage period to adjust from their protect biography in your base, greenhouse, or cold skeletal system to their new location out in the elements .
Providing this transition menstruation is called “ hardening off. ”
A close up vertical picture of a young tomato plant in a small pot ready to be transplanted into the garden set on a wooden surface. In the background is soil in soft focus. crank transplants are vulnerable to outdoor weather conditions. Providing them with a gradual transition to the outdoors will help them become stronger and more bouncy .
As Lois Miklas, Master Gardener Coordinator at Penn State Extension points out, a whole host of changes occur in young plants during this period : leaf surfaces thicken and strengthen, they become less prone to freezing, more food is stored in plant tissues, roots grow more quickly, and stem and leaf growth slows .
These changes make plants more resilient and able to withstand temperature changes, less frequent water, and breakage from wind gusts .
During the hardening off menstruation, gradually introduce your plants to the outdoors during the day for a few hours at a time, lento increasing the sum of time they spend external and the amount of direct sunlight and wind instrument exposure they receive .
here are some tips for hardening off your plants :

  • Give your plants a 7- to 14-day transition period.
  • Start the hardening off process in a shaded, sheltered location.
  • Gradually increase sun exposure and time outside.
  • Protect plants from wind for the first week.
  • Water plants less frequently during the hardening off period, but do not let them dry out or wilt.
  • Only begin hardening off when outdoor daytime temperatures are above 50°F.
  • Don’t fertilize right before or during this period.

Hardening off your young plants may seem like a set of work. But it ’ s work that will pay off with big harvests of fresh, delicious summer tomatoes from vigorous plants .

6. Transplant to the Garden

When is it fourth dimension to transplant your tomatoes to your garden or pots and containers ?
After hardening them off, and preferably two weeks after your last frost date .
A close up of a glass soil thermometer monitoring the outdoor temperature in the garden. Tomatoes need territory temperatures of 60°F or higher for growth, so if your dirty international relations and security network ’ metric ton that quick yet, hold off on transplanting them until it is .
You can check your dirty temperature with a dirt thermometer. Keep in beware that this is not the same thing as the ambient air temperature .
When you ’ re fix to transplant, urine your plants well before their big conversion into outdoor dirty .
Dig a hole a little larger than the pot from which you are transplanting, and add some worm castings or compost to the soil .
If you used a biodegradable pot, don ’ t remove the transfer – the pot will go into the grind. Just make sure the rim of the biodegradable potentiometer international relations and security network ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate sticking up above the ground .
Trim it before planting it so the top is flat with the potting mix, the same room you did with your biodegradable seed starting trays .
If your tomato is in a formative pot, squeeze the sides of the pot to loosen it, and tilt the plant sideways to slide it out. Try to avoid pulling the establish out by the shank, and entirely handle the soil if you can .
A close up of a pair of hands transplanting young plants into dark, rich soil in the garden on a soft focus background. Plant your tomatoes at least arsenic deep as their seed leaves. Planting more profoundly is preferable, and will help your plants develop a strong etymon system .
If your plants are leggy – which they hopefully won ’ triiodothyronine be if you followed all of the above instructions, but sometimes it happens – you can lay them sideways in a trench in the territory rather than a trap, with just the acme several inches of stalk and a pair of sets of leaves remaining above anchor .
Go ahead and post your plants now, so you won ’ triiodothyronine disturb their roots late.

A close up of a young tomato plant in the garden with a wire cage surrounding it to provide support. To the left of the frame is a garden fork. Keep your newly relocated plants well-watered for the first couple of weeks after transplanting .
For far steering on transplanting your tomatoes into the garden, see our complete guidebook to growing these summer veggies .

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