Start tomato seeds indoors and then transplant outdoors when the weather is warm.
image by farmert: morguefile.com
Many gardeners grow tomatoes by planting the plants directly outdoors in the late spring. For a new gardening experience, consider starting tomato seeds indoors approximately two months before the last spring frost. The process of planting your tomatoes and raising them all the way from seeds to mature fruit may be a satisfying project to accomplish. Children can also be involved in the indoor planting process for a beneficial gardening lesson.
Fill the planting tray approximately 3/4 full with potting soil. Drag the stick down the planting tray to make 1/4-inch deep furrows for the tomato seeds.
Place the tomato seeds into the furrows 1/2-inch apart. Cover the seeds with no more than 1/4-inch of soil. Spray the newly planted tomato seeds with the water to moisten the potting soil.
Place the planting tray in a location that stays at temperatures ranging between 75 and 80 degrees F.
Watch for the seedlings to germinate within approximately one week. When the tomato seedlings emerge, move the planting tray under a grow light or to a place in the house that receives direct sunlight for at least six hours per day.
Keep the seedlings evenly moist by spraying with the water bottle.
Monitor the growth of the seedlings. When the seedlings have four leaves, transplant the seedlings to individual pots. Fill the pots with potting soil and prepare a hole in the center of the potting soil for the seedling. Carefully loosen the seedlings from the planting tray using an old spoon or fork. Scoop out the tomato seedling, making sure you do not disturb the tiny root ball. Transfer the seedlings to the prepared pots, placing the seedlings into the holes up to the point of the first leaves. Pat the potting soil firmly around the plants and water the transplanted seedlings carefully.
Keep the seedlings in a warm location with at least six hours of either artificial or natural sunlight every day.
Prepare the tomato plants for transplanting outside when the overnight temperatures begin to stay above 55 degrees F. Move the plants outside to direct sunlight for two or three hours over a period of several days. Increase the time outside over a week's time until the tomato plants are accustomed to being outside in full sunshine for an entire day. Transplant the tomato plants outside.