From Tomato Seeds to Seedlings in 8 Days

by teddletonmr

Germinating hybrid and heirloom tomato seeds indoors is much easier than you may believe, using this simple inexpensive seed starting method.

Growing tomatoes in the garden for many hobby and master gardeners alike is a huge source of pride. Growing the best tasting, blemish free, and let us not forget, having the first ripe tomato before the 4th of July is a big deal for many gardeners in the Midwest United States. In order to accomplish this goal, many hobby gardeners transplant tomato plants they purchase from their local garden supply stores, Wal-Mart, Rural King, and so on.
The problem with this practice, at best, you and your neighbor will grow the same plants. Worse yet, you really never know for sure what variety tomato and how old the plant is you are planting in your raised beds, containers or garden plot. This is especially troublesome for those of us that plan on canning our own tomato sauce, salsa, and homemade ketchup.
The best and safest way to ensure a bountiful harvest of the tomatoes we hunger for is by first purchasing the highest quality hybrid or heirloom tomato seeds online from Amazon or other seed companies. We will talk more about that a little later. As you continue reading this article, you will learn just how easy it really is to go from tomato seeds to seedlings in 8 days. Grow the tomatoes you want, and not settle for something less.

Why you should start your Tomato plant from seed

Starting your tomato plants from seed, has many benefits, try new hybrids, heirlooms, grape, cherry, red, pink and yellow tomatoes

Gardeners like you and me all enjoy the benefits of growing our own garden fresh tomatoes and delicious organic veggies in our gardens. For many of us, our gardens consist of assorted styles and sizes of containers. Others, where space allows, prefer raising their fruits and veggies organically in raised beds, community gardens, or lease large garden spots.  


Square foot gardening produces

When we combine our love for working in the garden and Punxsutawney Phil predicting an early spring, we are inspired to give all those seed catalogues we just received in the mail a good look. After all, selecting the best varieties of canning, sauce, and ready-to-eat vine ripened tomatoes gets us all fired up for spring.

The dilemma many newbie and hobby gardeners face is deciding which is best, growing hybrid or heirloom tomato plants they really want to grow by starting seeds. On the other hand, settling for the variety sold at the local garden supply store is less work. Now, I don’t know how you feel about working in your garden. The thing I am sure of, for me, the wife, and kids, working in the garden is a great family activity we all learn, enjoy, and benefit from. Growing our own plants from seeds is a lot of fun and ensures we get what we pay for.

Starting Tomatoes from seeds

8-days after planting tomato seeds sprouted
Tomato plants started from seeds
Tomato plants started from seeds

Germinating Tomato Seeds using a Grow Light

Homemade seed germination station is easy to put together and store in off seasons.

Homemade seed germination grow light

The most important garden gadget you will absolutely need is a good grow light for your seed germination station. Make your own, or buy the Hydrofarm JSV4 4-Foot Grow Light System from  

In the photo to the left is a grow light my 16-year old son and I put together in less than an hour.

For under $35, this two light seed germination station system has enough room for 96, 3-inch peat pots.

Hydrofarm JSV4 4-Foot Jump Start T5 Grow Light System

This 4-foot grow light system is the best choice for any gardener that wants to buy grow light and germinate their own vegetable and flower seeds...

View on Amazon

Starting Tomato seeds using 3-inch Jiffy Pots

3-inch Peat Pots work well for starting tomato plants from organic, hybrid and heirloom seeds.

3-inch Pete Pots work great for starting tomato seeds

Peat Pots are easy to use, can be bought online from amazon, and best of all cheap. Simply fill each Jiffy Pot about 2/3 full of a good seed starting mix. Next, sow two of the hybrid or heirloom tomato seeds in the center of each peat pot. Then cover the seed with about a ¼-inch of the seed starting potting soil mix.

Benefits of using peat pots for starting tomato seeds includes watering and transplanting tomato plants into your raised beds, containers, and garden plots easy.


Jiffy 5311 3-Inch Seed Start Pots, 10-Count

These 3-inch jiffy pots are a perfect size for starting your own tomato plants using your favorite hybrid or heirloom tomato seeds...

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Why use Seed Starting potting Soil Mix

Starting mix and Pete pots, made out of Pete moss absorb and retain water-soluble plant foods and water like a sponge.

The Best Seed Starting Soll Mix

Miracle-Gro seed starting potting mix has earned the reputation of being the best, used by generations of hobby vegetable and master flower gardeners just like you and me. The Miracle-Gro soil mixture consists of peat moss and plant food specially formulated to satisfy the needs of young vegetable plants and seedlings. Gardeners enjoy the benefit of this cost and time saving seed starting mix because it eliminates the need to buy organic materials, peat moss, fertilizers, plant foods and mixes it all together in the proper proportions.

Simply fill your 3-inch Jiffy Pots 2/3 full with Miracle-Gro seed starting potting mix, plant your favorite vegetable seeds, water, and watch the magic happen.

Miracle-Gro 75078500 Seed Starting Potting Mix Bag, 8-Quart

This Miracle-Grow seed starting potting mix, with nutrients is lightweight premium mix that is an excellent choice, for germinating vegetable, flower, and herb seeds. Each 8-quart bag will fill about 48 3-inch Jiffy Pots

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Planting Tomato Seeds Tip

Planting and starting tomato seeds using 3-inch Jiffy Pots the quick and easy way...

Plantng tomato plants from seed

Step 1:  Fill 3-inch peat pot 2/3 full of seed starting potting soil mix.

Step 2:  Place two tomato seeds in the center of the pot.  You may use one seed in the event you want to avoid thinning seedlings later.

Step 3:  Cover seeds with seed starter soil.  I have found it easier to use a 1/3 cup stainless steel measuring cup full of starting mix to cover the seeds. Then use the bottom of the measuring cup and gently compact the soil to ensure good soil-to-seed contact…

Buy hybrid and heirloom Tomato Seeds from trusted online garden supply store

The Parks Whopper hybrid seedlings, pictured above in this article started from seed.

Parks Wopper
The Parks Whopper hybrids produce large fruit that is great for the table, sandwiches, or simply eat them fresh picked from the vine as a treat while weeding the garden...

Brandywime Pink
The Brandywine tomato dates back to 1885, this heirloom tomato is sure to please.

Sauce Tomato
Vesuvius region of Italy is famous, and the sauces and pastes it makes are renowned for their full, tangy flavor. When it's time for authentic Neapolitan cuisine, rely on Agro!

The Perfect Cherry Tomato for your Container Garden
Find a large, lovely container and grow the biggest and best crop of cherry tomatoes you've ever seen with Maskotka, a new determinate variety bred just for growing on the patio!

Quick, effective, and easy way to water tomato seedlings

Use a waterproof, flat-bottomed storage container that is 4-inches deep, 16-inches wide, and 24-inches long to make watering 24 seedlings easy as pie.

easy way to water seedlings

 Step 1:  As you fill each 3-inch Jiffy pot with the Miracle-Gro seed starting mix and plant your tomato seeds, place each peat pot neatly arranged in rows inside a shallow waterproof storage container. See picture to the left.

Step 2:  Pour 1-quart of room temperature water directly into the storage container, not the Jiffy pots individually.

Step 3:  Monitor the water level in the storage container.  As the Pete pots absorb water, the moisture will wick up the sides of the peat pots and moisten the seed starting mix, then in turn the tomato seeds. Add water as needed, the  pots and seed starting soil should be kept warm and damp, not soaking wet.

Easy to follow steps that ensure Seed Starting Success

Maintain proper temperatures, water every day, and use a grow light to optimize plant growth and healthy seedlings.

temp, water and comtrolinggrow light

When starting tomato plants from seeds, it is extremely important to maintain the proper hours of lighting and growing temperatures. 8 hours under the grow light should be the minimum, 10 hours is better.

Another important thing to remember, the distance between your plants and the grow light bulbs should be 4-inches. In other words, when starting tomato seeds, use the width of your hand as your guide.

With your fingers together, place your pinky finger on the top of the peat pot, making sure the light bulb / lamp  just touches your pointer finger.

The proper growing temperatures range from, 70 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit  while the plant lights are on, and 60 – 65 degrees with grow lights turned off at night.

Water your seedlings daily, the outside of the peat pots and the soil inside the pots need to stay damp, not soaking wet.  


Oregon Scientific Bar206a Wireless Weather Station

This great compact sized weather station, with its large LCD display, and EL backlight and Included wireless transmitter helps to keep us informed on weather conditions, both indoor and outdoor temperatures.

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Updated: 03/02/2013, teddletonmr
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Starting tomato plants from seed chat, share tips or ask questions

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teddletonmr on 01/18/2023

DerdriuMarriner, thanks for asking. I prefer selecting lamps in the 5000 K spectrum. Other than for privacy reasons, in my experience closing the drapes, or shades during, or after non-growing hours, has little, if any impact. Keeping the lamps close to seedlings, however, is important.
2-inch, 50mm work to help seedlings from becoming leggy, a.k.a. spindly.
I hope this helps, happy gardening...

DerdriuMarriner on 01/18/2023

Your comment March 3, 2013, indicates that "my dear wife suggested setting up the grow lights on the dining room table this year. The lights hang from the support by the chains included with the shop light fixture."

Were blinds or shades down or curtains drawn during the non-grow light hours?

What kind of artificial or natural lighting would you favor outside grow-light hours?

teddletonmr on 07/14/2013

Mira best of luck finding the proper lighting, and growing your own tomatoes indoors. Maybe this link will help, it is an amazon product that gets great reviews.

Mira on 07/14/2013

Hi Mike, this is wonderful. I will try it. I just need to figure out the light thingie, what kind of fixture to get. Thank you so much!

teddletonmr on 07/13/2013

Yes Mira you can easily grow fruits and vegetables indoors. Just remember tomatoes like ten or so hours of direct light, warm temperatures between 95 to 75 degrees F. and plenty of food and water when setting blooms and ripening fruits.
Using grow lights work well when 10 + hours of direct sunlight isn’t possible. As for hydrogen peroxide controlling mold, a mixture of ½-cup H2O2 per gallon of water works well for me when starting plants from seeds, and growing seedlings for transplanting outdoors in the garden..
Hope this answers your question. Happy gardening, Mike

Mira on 07/13/2013

So if I want to grow tomatoes indoors, it can be done with some extra light (and hydrogen peroxide to prevent mold)?

teddletonmr on 06/25/2013

Writerartis welcome to the Wizzley community. I would be interested in reading more about your garden in Bangalore India. What are your favorite garden plants; do you grow annual fruit, and vegetable plants from seeds transplant seedlings, or enjoy the many benefits perennial plants provide?
Thanks for stopping by, make it a great day and enjoy the garden. Mike

WriterArtist on 06/25/2013

I think growing tomatoes is quite easy after reading the page - very handy tips too.

teddletonmr on 03/04/2013

Hey Pam just because you asked, hope you find it useful.
Mike :)

dustytoes on 03/02/2013

Thanks Mike, you have some really useful info here. Can't wait to read the next pages - hurry up.. ;)

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