How to Grow Tomatoes

Sahara holding pot of tomato plant

Hello from me and my five tomato plants that were once 25, but are now a humble abode (uh hi can you tell I'm in a pride and prejudice mood? because in no other dimension would the word abode be in here otherwise) of 5 tomato plants.

No, I didn't put 20 tomato plants 6 feet under due to neglect.

I actually had to find neighbors and friends that would happily adopt my tomato plants so that I would have less of a tomato farm and more of a handful of tomato plants.

When did I start planting my tomato plants?

I started to plant them in March 13. During this time, my work-life had been taking my soul bit my bit and this was kind of an outlet to keep my brain afloat. I did try to plant tomatoes last year and lets just say lessons were learned from because that didn't go well and so I took the approach of: fail forward. So this was my second time trying to plant tomatoes from seeds. I am more of a creative person and well, patient person according to my family, so starting up my own lil garden seemed like fun - small steps of progress that led to the goal of actually having something to pick!

During March, there was a lot of long hours, 80+ hour work weeks including weekends, and slowly I didn't have time for any of my hobbies anymore because I was too exhausted to run regularly anymore - this was the first time I've ever experienced being too tired to run - play piano, read, crochet, blog (hi it's been a while since I've posted on here and this is actually the reason why - burnout came in swinging). With planting, at least all I really had to do was water it every morning after I ate my breakfast - just fill up my water pail and water it after I ate and then back to work again.

After a while, I'll explain in a bit how long a while is, I started to see new life in my small little garden. Although I was drowning in work, my little bit of greenery were my floaties helping me to the surface.

Me holding a red pot of tomato plant

How do I start growing tomatoes from seeds?

What you'll need

- A small pot with a drainage hole

- Soil specifically for Seeds. [I personally used Miracle Gro Seed Starting Potting Mix and it worked *chefs kiss* wonders]

- Plastic Wrap / Saran Wrap

- Rubberbands

- Seeds of what you are planning to grow

My advice on pots:

I personally would recommend clay pots with drainage holes to start with.

The catch is that they absorb moisture more than other types of pots, but I will say I've had the most success with clay pots. I have also tried to plant seeds with rocks underneath, due to lack of drainage hole at the bottom, and then soil on top. Although I was able to see some growth to my carrots in there, in the end they didn't survive after a few raining days due to the water not being able to drain out.

With seeds though, you'll want a small pot to start with - unless we're talking about carrots, those you'll want in a larger one as they don't like being repotted - and as the plant grows you would keep upgrading it from larger pot to larger pot.

Another way to grow seeds -> plants:

A friend of mind used an egg carton, Pure Coconut Coir Netted Seed Starting Pellets, heat mat, and a grow light.  This worked amazingly for her. Instead of planting the seeds in a small pot, she used an egg carton and in each little egg spot she put a Seed Starting Pellet. Once she planted her seeds, she then put it under a heat mat and a grow light towering above. 

a lot of tomato plants in a small clay pot

Here’s what my clay pot filled with tomato plants looked like before I repotted!

How to plant seeds in Pot

Step 1: Fill up your pot over half way, very nearly to the rim at the top. If your pot doesn't have a circular rim at the top, leave about an index finger height of space from the top to your soil amount. If that looks to be too much soil, put a bit less so you have the length of two index fingers from the top to your soil. 

Step 2:  In your pot, depending on how large your small pot is, make small holes into your soil with your finger - I would say make each hole at least 4ish inches apart. In each small hole you made, put two seeds. The idea is that if one seed is bad/doesn't grow then you still have hope for the other one to grow!

Side Bar: Personally I put three seeds in each hole and turns out all seeds were good and that's how I ended up with a tomato farm. So, I would say 2 seeds per each hole but also keep in mind the amount of tomato plants you want to have and what you'll do if all the seeds actually end up being good seeds. So say if you only want 3 tomato plants but you plant 2 for each hole (3 holes) and it turns out both seeds you planted per hole were good and started to spout so you now have 6 good plants instead of only 3. 

Questions to ask yourself: Do you have room for the extra three in your balcony/patio/garden when they grow and need a larger pot?

Step 3: After you place the two seeds per hole, put some soil over the holes to level it back to the rest of the pot of soil.

Step 4: Grab your water pail, and lightly water your newly planted seeds in the pot.

Step 5: Cut a piece of your cling film/plastic wrap/saran wrap to be the size of the top of your pot. Lay the plastic over your pot, and secure it in place by placing a rubberband around your pot keeping the plastic securely in place.

TA DA - you have just finished planting your first seed(s)!

How long until I start seeing a sprout/some greenery?

Every morning you'll remove the plastic wrap and pour some water into your pot. Then you'll place the same plastic wrap over it. The plastic wrap helps to keep the moisture in. Without the plastic wrap, the soil may become too dry to nurture the seed that is within it.

On my end I planted my tomato seeds on March 13, and started to see some sprouting on April 9.

At the very first sight of green in your pot, remove the plastic wrap immediately from your pot and do not cover it again. It is ready to continue growing without the added covering!

The first time I tried planting tomatoes - I didn't realize I was supposed to remove the plastic wrap after the first bit of green, and that's how I killed them that first time. Lessons were learned and I'm here to help you not make that same mistake!

Aerial view of my tomato plant leaves
Ariel view of my tomato plant! Look how pretty she is!

When do I need to repot?

You'll need to repot when the plant itself looks to be getting larger than the pot it's in. For example - I ended up planting 25 tomatoes in one single pot. So, it got super crowded, and I had to separate them all in in their own pots.

For tomatoes specifically - they will need a massive pot to continue their true growth in giving you tomatoes. I went to Home Depot, and they had such nice affordable prices for plastic pots - for tomatoes if you are growing in pots, get a massive plastic one and more soil.

How to move a tomato plant from one pot to the next?

Step 1: Lay out some newspaper for the area you will be repotting in - it'll get a bit messy!

Step 2: Pour water on your existing tomato plant in the pot - especially directly on the soil.

Step 3: Pour water on the soil of your new pot.

Step 4: For your existing pot with the tomato plant, tilt the pot on its side, and move your hands to the edges of the pot in an effort to get the tomato plant out. Once your whole plant is out of the pot, you'll see a lot of the roots. Your job here is to take away the excess soil/roots that are away from the main roots of your tomato plant. Once you've cleaned it up a bit, using your hands to take away all excess, that's when you put it in your new pot, adding some additional soil if need be, and water your plant.

Two red tomatoes in a pot, one green
my long awaited tomato children!

When will I see tomato?

I personally saw a tomato in July - so about 5 months after I planted my seeds. As for when I saw a red tomato ready to be picked - that would be at the end of August!

And there we have it, all about tomatoes, and how to potentially grow a tomato farm.

The satisfaction of growing something really is the best feeling - it's indescribable. My motto here was to fail forward - I took my failures of my first attempt at growing tomatoes and applied what I learned to round 2 of growing tomatoes. As my plants began to bloom, I began to too - and found my own way out of the fog I was in for months. 

Have you ever planted tomato seeds before? Have you been planting anything on your end? Let's get chatting!


  1. Thanks for sharing these tips and suggestion to growing tomatoes! It's fun to grow your own food!

    1. Thank you so much for reading!! It really is so much fun growing your own fruit/veggies - and so so rewarding seeing the bits of greenery pop up!