How to Start Tomato Seeds Inside


Tomatoes are one of the most popular summer garden plants. You can enjoy them raw in salads or on sandwiches; if you have a particularly large harvest, you can freeze or can them for later use. To get a head start on your tomato planting season, you may want to start your seeds indoors--especially if you live in a cooler climate. Not only does this give you an earlier harvest, it helps you save money on purchasing seedlings at the garden center.

Step 1

Fill your 3-inch pots with a commercial, seed starter soil mix. Tap the soil down so that air is pushed out of the dirt. Water the soil so that it is moist, but not soggy. Put your tomato pots in a plastic seed tray.

Step 2

Plant your tomato seeds 1/4 inch deep and cover with dirt by tapping the dirt down. Plant three seeds per 3-inch pot. You will thin them down to one per pot after they are 2 inches tall.

Step 3

Slide your tray of tomato seeds inside a large, clear plastic bag and set the seeds on top of the refrigerator or another warm area, such as a hot water heater. Do not seal the end of the plastic bag; allow it to drape over the edge.

Step 4

Remove the tray from the bag when the seeds have germinated. Move the tray to a sunny window, and make sure to keep the soil in the pots moist by watering them from the bottom tray.

Step 5

Thin your seedlings to one per pot when they are 3 inches tall.

Step 6

Fertilize your seedlings with a commercial liquid fertilizer once they are three weeks old, and then again at every two weeks. Follow instructions on the side of your particular brand of fertilizer for amounts to use.

Step 7

Transplant seedlings to your outdoor garden bed when all danger of frost has passed.

Tips and Warnings

  • If tomato seedlings stand in soil that is too wet, it can cause the roots to rot.

Things You'll Need

  • 3-inch pots
  • Plastic tray
  • Commercial seed starter potting soil
  • Large clear plastic bag
  • Commercial liquid fertilizer


  • Columbia Tribune: How To Start Tomato Plants At Home
  • Gary Ibsen's Tomato Fest: Tomato Seed Starting Tips
  • Texas A&M University Extension: Tomato, Part 1

Who Can Help

  • University of Illinois: Watch Your Garden Grow: Tomatoes
Keywords: starting tomato seeds, starting tomatoes indoors, tomato seed starting

About this Author

A freelance writer for more than 12 years, Traci Vandermark has written extensively on health and fitness topics. She is a student of health, fitness and nutrition at the International Institute Of Holistic Healing, certified by the American Association of Nutritional Consultants. Her articles have appeared in Catskill Country Magazine, The Lookout Magazine, Capper's, Birds and Blooms and Country Discoveries, to name a few.