Before you grow tomatoes, you have to decide how you will go about doing things. Will you use seeds, or will you be utilizing a harder method… growing tomatoes from tomatoes? The latter might seem more convenient, especially if you already have tomatoes in the refrigerator. However, if your tomatoes were grown from commercial farming procedures (over organic ones), they are probably hybridized. This means that their seeds are probably sterile. For this reason, if you want to start growing tomatoes from other tomatoes, consider starting things off the old-fashioned way… using seeds to jumpstart the process. Then once they start sprouting tomatoes, you will have the power to grow new sets of plants.
To grow tomatoes from seeds, you must first think about when you will start planting. You should do this 6 to 8 weeks before it starts getting cold in your area. If the temperatures go below the mid-50s, you might have trouble growing your plants. For the growing itself, there are many containers you can use. The cheapest are the plastic ones that you find at most garden shops. They are not fancy, but they are very easy to use for beginners. However, they are not miracle-workers, so if the soil within the container is not sterile, your plants may encounter disease. With that said, stick to “soilless” mediums as they do the same thing without exposing your plants to harmful organisms.
After you have prepared your trays, you are ready to plant your seeds. With a pencil, punch one hole into the soil. Drop 2 or 3 seeds into this hole. Only one seed is needed for germination, but the more you put down, the greater your chances of success. Just do not surpass 2 or 3 seeds, as the area may not be big enough to accommodate the growth. In any case, after you have laid your seeds, apply a thin layer of top soil then water the area. The soil should be moistened but not over-watered and soaked. Repeat this procedure with every cup in the tray. Now you need to put your seedlings into a warm area, somewhere around 70 degrees. If the area fits that requirement, place the seeds near a window sill. Make sure the window receives enough light, as sunlight is especially vital during the beginning stages of a tomato plant’s life. For watering, do as you did before… moisten the soil, but do not soak it. And only water when the soil appears dry.
When it gets closer to planting time, your plants will go through a unique “hardening off” period. This is nature’s way of helping them build defenses against the elements. To get the most out of this process, start putting your plants outside for hour. Increase this timeframe by one hour each day and continue doing this until you have reached 4 hours. By doing this, your plants will become healthier and stronger.
Once your plants start growing tomatoes, you will have a harvest that you can eat, sell or save for future plants. If you decide to save your tomatoes for future plants, you will have to extract their seeds. You will also have to dry them out, (as wet seeds will not fertilize). Afterward, just repeat the steps mentioned above. Since the seeds would have originated from a non-hybridized plant, you should be able to grow them pretty easily. And do not worry about pollination, as tomatoes are one of the few plants that can pollinate themselves. As long as their seeds are healthy and non-hybridized, they have just as much sprouting ability as the ones you buy from the store. By following this process, starting next season you’ll be able to start growing tomatoes from the tomatoes left over from this summer, assuming you found a variety that you enjoy and that grows well in your area.