Enjoying fresh, juicy tomatoes at home, begins with growing tomato seedlings. While it may seem like a hassle to grow your own seedlings when they are so readily available in the stores, there are benefits to starting them yourself at home. You have more tomato varieties to choose from when growing your own, instead of being limited to what your local nursery has available, it is cheaper to buy seeds than ready grown seedlings, and you will know exactly when and how your seedlings were plant, whereas ready grown varieties may be older and not as healthy. So, grab those seeds and some potting soil, and get ready to grow your own seedlings, starting them indoors about six to eight weeks before the date of the last anticipated frost in your area.
Add potting soil to a seed tray that has drainage holes. Fill to the rim with the soil and water well to moisten clear through. If necessary, use your hands to mix the soil and water.
Sow tomato seeds on top of the soil and gently push down into the soil about 1/4 inch deep. Spray gently with water just to moisten.
Set the seed tray in front of a large window where it will receive full light every day. Tomato seeds need about 12 hours of light daily to germinate properly. Use a fluorescent light if necessary, placing it about 6 inches above the seeds.
Keep the seeds moist and the temperature around 65 to 85 degrees F during the day. At night the temperature should be about 10 degrees lower.
Transplant the seedlings to individual containers after about 30 days or when the first large set of leaves appears. Use a 3- to 4-inch diameter container per seedling to allow them space for the roots to continue growing. Fill each container with potting soil and moisten.
Carefully remove each seedling from the seed tray and if necessary, gently separate the roots if they have grown together. Dig a hole in each container just large enough to hold the roots.
Transplant the seedlings into the containers and cover the roots with soil, firming over gently with your hand. Water well and keep the soil moist by watering daily until the seedlings have grown to about 6-inches tall, about four weeks after transplanting.
Plant the seedlings into a home garden once they reach 6-inches tall or more. Clip off the bottom set of leaves. Dig a hole that is twice as deep and wide as the roots of the seedling. Space plants about 1 foot apart and rows at least 3 feet apart.
Place the seedling in the hole so the uppermost leaves are directly above the ground's surface. Fill in the hole with soil, firm over gently, and water well. Keep the newly planted seedlings watered well so the soil does not dry out.