gardening/ Homesteading

Planting Tomato Seedlings

May 7, 2016 (Last Updated: February 17, 2018)

Growing tomato plants can be rewarding and challenging. Tips on how to transplant tomato seedlings.

Planting tomato seedlings.

I love starting tomato plants from seeds.  Sometimes we buy a few plants because we want an additional variety.  Whether you start your own plants from seeds or buy plants from the nursery you need to know how to transplant your tomatoes.

Transplanting tomatoes

When I start with seeds I plant in small pots. Then I transplant to a larger pot and then finally into the garden. Transplanting allows the plant to grow larger.  It also helps prevent the plants from becoming too tall and leggy or spindly.

When transplanting my tomatoes to the larger containers this year, I ran a little accidental experiment….accidental, because I didn’t plan it.  I use an organic potting mix for my vegetable starts. I always want to give my seeds a great soil mix to get started with.  Once I transplant to the garden, I make certain the soil is amended with great nutrients from composted manure.

When my tomatoes had grown about 6-8 inches tall and had established leaves, I began transplanting to the larger pots and I ran out of soil partway through. I thought, no big deal.  About four weeks later I got back to transplanting (I got a little side-tracked and time just seems to slip away) ….the plants I had already transplanted were significantly taller and had more leaves. The photo below shows you both plants.  You can see the difference in pot sizes, but look at how big the plants in back had become.

Planting tomato seedlings

The smaller plants need to be transplanted into the larger containers right away! The large tomatoes are ready for the garden.  I will need to keep a close eye on the weather for the next several weeks. We still have a chance of a frost. Tomatoes are not hardy and a frost can kill them. If needed, I will cover the tomatoes with a plastic sheet over the hoops on the raised beds.

Here’s another picture of the difference in sizes of the tomato plants.  I’m so glad for my accidental experiment.  I had no idea there would be such a significant difference!

Transplanting tomato seedlings

When transplanting most plants, you place the plant at the same surface level.  With tomatoes, you place the plant into the soil deeper. You place part of the stem under the dirt.  This allows the plant to have a better root system and it also helps create a sturdier stem and plant.  The soil on the plant below comes up about 3 inches higher than when in the pot.  If my plants are really spindly, I plant them even deeper.

Transplanting tomato seedlings.

The plant below was taken during the first transplanting.  It amazing how much the plant grew in 4 weeks time.

Transplanting tomato seedlings

Transplanting Steps: These steps work whether transplanting tomato seedlings to a larger pot or transplanting a larger plant into the garden.

  1. Gently remove plant from container.
  2. Examine roots.  If roots are tightly wound, gently loosen roots with your fingers. You just want to tickle them gently apart.
  3. Plant with part of existing stem below the soil. You can use the lower leaves as a guide as to how deep to plant.
  4. Fill soil in around plant.
  5. Water.

If all goes well, by the middle to end of August we will have fresh tomatoes!  Happy Gardening!

Fresh homegrown tomatoes

 

Tips on transplanting tomatoes.

 

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34 Comments

  • Reply
    Karen (Back Road Journal)
    May 15, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    This will be the first year I haven’t grown tomatoes in years, no room at our new Florida home. There is nothing better than the first ripe tomato of the summer. I hope you have a bountiful crop.

    • Reply
      Kathy
      May 15, 2016 at 7:09 pm

      Sometimes the wait for a tomoato to ripen takes forever!

  • Reply
    Anu - My Ginger Garlic Kitchen
    May 11, 2016 at 2:19 am

    This is such an informative and helpful post, Kathy. I have never done planting myself, but your DIY posts inspire me so much! I wish I could use this sometime in near future. 🙂

    • Reply
      Kathy
      May 11, 2016 at 5:10 am

      You never know when you just might get the urge to grow a tomato plant! Many people grow them in pots on their balconies!

  • Reply
    Adina
    May 10, 2016 at 11:27 pm

    I envy you your green thumb, I am a complete disaster when it comes to gardening. The only thing I manage to semi-maintain is my herb patch and that only because it doesn’t require so much work….. I love tomatoes and I keep a few pots every year, but never get much out of them. I blame it on the lack of sun and heat mostly, but deep inside… I know…

    • Reply
      Kathy
      May 11, 2016 at 5:10 am

      Keep those herbs going! You need to be proud…not everyone can grow herbs!

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    May 10, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    Such an informative post! Someday maybe I’ll get to put this to good use when we have a bigger backyard!!

  • Reply
    Priya
    May 10, 2016 at 2:09 am

    Thank you for your sharing.. I did planting with chilli seeds and I am now planning to plant tomatoes as well.. Hoping for best

    • Reply
      Kathy
      May 10, 2016 at 4:33 am

      I planted several chili plants as well. Good luck with your garden.

  • Reply
    mira
    May 9, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    Thanks for sharing Kathy! Love planting tomatoes! Just hoping for a warm summer around here!

    • Reply
      Kathy
      May 10, 2016 at 4:33 am

      I hope it’s a good tomato season.

  • Reply
    Balvinder
    May 9, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    Great post Kathy! First time I started my tomato plants from seeds this year and will be transplanting to bigger pots in a week.

  • Reply
    Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary
    May 9, 2016 at 5:44 am

    I do not have a green thumb at all, but I realllllly want to try my hand at starting a garden this year, Kathy! And I really want tomatoes, so this post was super helpful, my dear! Thanks for all the 411! I will be referring to this soon! Cheers, friend!

    • Reply
      Kathy
      May 10, 2016 at 4:36 am

      Good luck! Just start small and have fun!

  • Reply
    David @ Spiced
    May 9, 2016 at 5:03 am

    Great tips here, Kathy! We’ve started tomato seeds indoors in years past, but we didn’t do that this year. (Part of the reason is just time now that we have a certain little Robbie on our hands…) But this post makes me want to go back to planting from seeds again. And what a happy coincidence with the soil in some of those pots…totally filing that tip away for later. I can’t wait for gardening season to begin in full force! 🙂

    • Reply
      Kathy
      May 9, 2016 at 5:29 am

      There’s nothing wrong with buying plants already started. It gives you a jump start and you still get delicious homegrown tomatoes. Now we just need the weather to cooperate!

  • Reply
    Natanja
    May 9, 2016 at 1:14 am

    Thanks for the informative post!
    One thing I was wondering: Do you use coffee to create an acidic environment for the tomato plants or do you start off with acidic soil? I’ve been asking myself which is better.

    • Reply
      Kathy
      May 9, 2016 at 4:53 am

      I haven’t adjusted the acidity level of my soil and I haven’t added coffee. Let me know what you end up doing. I’m curious.

  • Reply
    Miriam @londonkitchendiaries.com
    May 9, 2016 at 1:01 am

    Home grown tomatoes taste so much better than the store bought ones! I loved eating tomatoes fresh from the garden in my parents and grandma’s house. Happy times ♡

    • Reply
      Kathy
      May 9, 2016 at 4:54 am

      I love eating them straight of the vine too! The hardest part is waiting for them to ripen!

  • Reply
    Fran @ G'day Souffle'
    May 8, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    This post is very helpful. I planted a little lemon tree in my garden 3 years ago and still haven’t got any lemons from it- Darn!

    • Reply
      Kathy
      May 9, 2016 at 4:54 am

      I wish I had some lemon advice for you…

  • Reply
    Rahul @samosastreet.com
    May 8, 2016 at 11:33 am

    Thanks for info on growing tomatoes from seed. My wife is growing tomatoes for the first time and all these are great and helpful tips!
    Happy gardening!

    • Reply
      Kathy
      May 9, 2016 at 4:54 am

      I wish you lots of beautiful tomatoes!

  • Reply
    Amanda
    May 8, 2016 at 7:32 am

    I’ve always purchases tomato plants that were already kind of large. I’ve always been a little intimidated to start them from seeds. But your plants are gorgeous! I really want to give this a try.

    • Reply
      Kathy
      May 9, 2016 at 4:55 am

      Purchasing plants is perfectly okay! I enjoy starting them from seeds. It’s fun to watch them grow.

  • Reply
    Smitha
    May 8, 2016 at 5:49 am

    Good informative post Kathy. i belong to a agriculturist family. I can feel and understand every line you wrote in here. Home made or cultivated crops are like our family and strive hard to preserve them

    • Reply
      Kathy
      May 9, 2016 at 4:56 am

      Thanks!

  • Reply
    Nicoletta @sugarlovespices
    May 7, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    That was so helpful Kathy! We’ve just bought a couple tomato plants from the Farmer’s Market that we planted in 2 big pots in the backyard and we followed your instructions. Hopefully we won’t have any frost so we can enjoy few tomatoes from a super sweet and a golden Roma variety 🙂 . Thanks!

    • Reply
      Kathy
      May 8, 2016 at 5:13 am

      Yay! Here’s hoping for no frost and a successful crop. A golden Roma sounds interesting.

  • Reply
    Kim | Low Carb Maven
    May 7, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    I had a raised bed that I planted in for years. I, too, had hoops to protect the plants from the cold as they were starting and then with shade cloth during the hottest part of the season. My plants did really well until the roots from the queen palm near by grew up into the bed and stripped the moisture and nutrients from soil. It became too costly to keep the plants well watered in drought affected SoCal. Your tomato pictures are stirring within me the urge to plant. Perhaps I’ll try container gardening this year. I miss my tomatoes. Really cool to see the difference in your transplanted plants. Thanks for the information!

    • Reply
      Kathy
      May 8, 2016 at 5:15 am

      Give big pots a try. I think that may be the way to go. Our biggest issue here are the deer. They like to eat the tomato plants!

  • Reply
    Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
    May 7, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    It’s so fun planting a garden Kathy! I haven’t done it in a few years. The boys and I had a little garden when they were young. I’m not a green thumb by any means, but boy did we have lots of tomatoes that year! I think that’s why my oldest son has always been so fond of tomatoes! Hope you have a great rest of the weekend!

    • Reply
      Kathy
      May 7, 2016 at 6:15 pm

      Lots of fun and very rewarding….but lots of work too!

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