The correct way to sow tomatoes to get an abundant harvest

by Mark Bennett

April 29, 2024


Easy to raise and much tastier than those store-bought, home-grown tomatoes can be a great addition to your veggie patch.

So, how best to raise tomatoes at home? Well, check out this short guide:

Planting tomato seeds


Tomato seedlings can be purchased at most nurseries; but starting from seeds, however, will allow you to raise certain varieties that are difficult to find in seedling form.

Tomato seeds must be sown at the right time: stable temperatures above 20 degrees C are required and the abient temperature should not dip below 12 degrees C (even at night).  For this reason, it's probably best to wait until April or May (in Europe) to sow tomato seeds in open ground. If sowing in a covered seedbed, this can be brought forward to February (as long as the plants always remain protected until temperatures rise).

The seeds - which are very small - must be planted at no deeper than about 0.5 cm in the soil. Seeds in pots can be sown more densely than seeds sown in open ground (as some seeds will not germinate and gaps will open up).


Choice of seeds


For a successful harvest, the choice of seeds is also important: these can be sourced from the preserved seeds of past (successful) harvests, exchanging seeds with other growers or buying them from retailers.  

In the latter case, it is best to avoid purchasing F1 hybrid seeds, which are not only more expensive, but often do not yield good crops and produce tomatoes with sterile seeds that you can use in the future.

You can gather seeds for your future crops from your current tomato crop. You just need to dry the seeds out in the sun and store them away from light, humidity and heat (to prevent them from germinating prematurely or becoming moldy).

Preparation of a seedbed


Whether sowing in an open field or in a seedbed, the soil must be prepared properly first. You can start this preparation a month in advance, hoeing the soil to break up the compact clods and eliminating weeds. The soil must not only be well-draining, but also very fertile: for this reason, you will need to enrich the soil with compost or mature manure.

In the case of sowing your tomato seeds in a seedbed, the transplanting of the seedlings can be carried out when they are sufficiently strong and the temperatures sufficiently high, usually in April or May. You can acclimatise the seedlings by placing them outside for 2 or 3 days before transplanting to open ground. Transplant the seedlings to soil which is neither too dry or too wet. Dig a hole large enough to accomodate the roots of the seedling and plant it in the hole. Then, carefully compact the soil around the base of the seedling so that it stands up straight. As the plants mature, you may need to provide supports for them to grown on.

Now, all you have to do is wait for your bountiful harvest!