How to Start Heirloom Tomato Seeds


Growing fresh tomatoes can be a delicious reward for any home vegetable gardener. This hobby can become even sweeter when you choose to start heirloom tomato seeds. Heirloom seeds have been saved for generations and often produce a variety of colors, sizes and flavors that aren't seen in grocery stores. To get your seeds going in time, plan to start them indoors six to eight weeks before your last spring frost so they will be ready for transplanting outside in mid-spring.

Step 1

Set your small pots into a seed tray and fill each pot with seed starting mix all the way up to the top. Plant one to two heirloom tomato seeds in the center of each pot only half an inch deep and cover them over lightly.

Step 2

Water the seed pots to evenly dampen the soil without drenching it or leaving dry patches. Place the cover over the seed tray once all of your pots are planted with seeds and they have been watered.

Step 3

Set the seed tray in a sunny window or place a grow light six inches above the top of the tray. Often gardeners will place the seed tray on top of their refrigerator for the first week or so to keep the soil warm as the seeds germinate. Move the seed tray to a sunny area after the seedlings have come through the soil.

Step 4

Water the plants as needed to keep the soil damp, and remove the seed tray cover once the seedlings have reached the roof of the seed tray. Watering may need to be done more regularly with the cover off.

Step 5

Transplant your seedlings outdoors once they reach six to 10 inches tall with multiple sets of leaves on them. Be sure to place them into a full sun area of your garden after the danger of frost has passed.

Step 6

Feed the seedlings with a low-nitrogen fertilizer at the soil level once they are outside and repeat feedings each month until tomatoes start to grow on your plants. Use garden stakes or tomato cages as needed to help support your growing plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Seed tray with clear lid
  • Small pots
  • Seed starting soil or mix
  • Heirloom tomato seeds
  • Water
  • Grow light, if needed
  • Low-nitrogen fertilizer
  • Garden stakes or tomato cages


  • "Gardening with Heirloom Seeds"; Lynn Coulter; 2006

Who Can Help

  • Heirloom tomato seeds available online
Keywords: starting heirloom tomatoes, growing heirloom tomatoes, heirloom tomato seeds

About this Author

Margaret Telsch-Williams is a freelance, fiction, and poetry writer from the Blue Ridge mountains. When not writing articles for Demand Studios, she works for as a contributor and podcast co-host.