For the easiest and quickest way to start from scratch – read the Tomato Sowing Quick Start Guide…
Sow at the right time
Eight to ten weeks before your last frost date – that’s the second half of March to early April in the UK.
If you miss this date you could buy small tomato plug plants from the garden center – great for planting in June!
Choose the right variety
Start with a cherry variety – they are usually the easiest to grow.
- Gardener’s Delight (tall cherry) for grow bags
- Tumbling Tom (tumbler tomato) for hanging baskets and high sided pots and containers
- Sweet n Neat or Heartbreaker (small upright bush) for a pot on the kitchen windowsill
Sow seeds just below surface (3 or 4mm) in a small pot or container of fresh compost
Don’t use garden soil – it has too many diseases and all sorts of little critters who will eat your seedlings!
Cover with cling film and put in a warm place such as an airing cupboard.
Seeds will germinate between 5 to 10 days.
It is extremely important that as soon as they start to come through – put in a lighter, cooler position such as a windowsill.
The biggest challenge with seedlings is to stop them from becoming too leggy / spindly. Over watering will also cause leggy seedlings
Tomato seeds can be sown in other media, not just compost – see media for sowing tomato seeds.
After about four weeks transplant to individual pots –
3 inch or slightly larger.
One reason why we don’t sow in final position containers is because we have to keep them indoors until after the last frost.
If we sow after the last frost, tomatoes won’t be ripe before the end of the season when temperatures drop too low for growing and ripening tomatoes.
Tall varieties are best grown in grow bags where special grow bag pots can be used to optimize watering and feeding.
Planting in grow bags is done after your last frost when growing tomatoes outside.
More information about how to sow tomato seeds