How To Grow Tomatoes From Tomatoes: Step By Step Guide

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How to grow tomatoes from tomatoes

You can grow tomatoes from tomatoes in an easy way without even bothering to save seeds.

In this guide, I will take you through the step-by-step process of growing tomatoes from tomatoes. From selecting the right tomato variety to transplanting your seedlings into the garden soil or large containers.

1. Choose the Right Tomato Variety

Not all tomatoes are suitable for seed-saving and growing tomato plants. It is important to choose open-pollinated or heirloom tomato varieties for this process and NOT hybrids.

Open-pollinated tomatoes allow for genetic diversity and can be saved and replanted year after year, making them ideal candidates for seed-saving and growing tomatoes from tomatoes.

Good to know: Heirlooms are generally referred to as open-pollinated varieties that were developed before 1949 when the first hybrid tomato, Big Boy, was introduced by Burpee. They are basically the old, traditional cultivars that now have a history of at least 75-80 years, but many heirloom tomatoes come from old cultivars that were developed over hundreds of years.

On the other hand, hybrid tomatoes are the product of cross-pollination between different tomato varieties. This is often done in order to create plants with desirable traits such as disease resistance or increased yield.

While hybrids can exhibit excellent characteristics, they do not breed true. This means that if you save and germinate seeds from a hybrid tomato, the resulting plants may not have the same characteristics as the parent plant. Therefore, it is not recommended to grow tomatoes from hybrids.

When selecting tomatoes for growing tomatoes from tomatoes, it is important to consider the specific characteristics you want to preserve.

E.g. do you prefer tomatoes with a sweet flavor, meaty texture, or a specific color?

Knowing your preferences will help you narrow down the choices and select the best varieties to suit your needs.

2. Use Ripe And Healthy Tomatoes

To grow tomatoes from tomatoes, you need to start with ripe and healthy tomatoes.

Look for fully ripe tomatoes that are free from diseases or pests. Gently twist or cut the stem of the tomato to detach it from the plant. Even overripe or damaged tomatoes can be used as long as the seeds look healthy.

3. Slice The Tomato

Use a sharp and clean knife, it is recommended to use a serrated knife to make the slicing process easier.

Holding the tomato firmly, place the knife parallelly to the tomato’s stem and slice it vertically into approx. 1/2 in (1 cm), even sections, as these will be ideal for planting.

4. Plant The Tomato Slices

  • Put a 2-3 in (5-7 cm) thick layer of planting soil or compost in a container or tray that drains. Spray it with water. Avoid using heavy or compacted soil, as it can hinder the plant’s development.
  • Place the tomato slices on top of the soil next to each other.
  • Cover the tomato slices with soil. Aim to have a layer of soil that is approximately ¼ to ½ inch (0.5–1 cm) thick over the slices. Spray it with water, make sure the soil is evenly moist

5. Making the seeds germinate

To ensure successful germination, several techniques can be employed. One effective method is to cover the container with plastic film.

This helps create a controlled environment by trapping heat and moisture, which are essential for seed germination.

Another crucial factor in promoting germination is maintaining the proper temperature, i.e. 70–80 °F (21–27 °C).

Furthermore, seeds need a sufficient amount of moisture to soften their protective coating and initiate the growth process. Keep the planting soil evenly moist all the time.

Don’t put the container in direct sunlight, but keep it in a bright place.

Germination should take place within 5–10 days.

6. Nurturing And Separating seedlings

Once the tiny tomato seedlings have emerged, it is vital to give them proper attention and care. One key aspect is providing ample sunlight.

Place the seedlings in a location where they can receive at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily. If natural sunlight is limited, consider using artificial grow lights to supplement their light needs.

Turn the containers daily if you grow your seedlings on a window sill to keep them from stretching and bending toward the light.

Another essential factor for healthy seedling growth is maintaining proper moisture levels. It is important to keep the soil consistently moist but not overly saturated.

Regularly check the soil moisture and water as needed, taking care to avoid allowing the soil to become dry or waterlogged.

Additionally, provide proper ventilation to prevent the development of diseases or fungal infections. Good air circulation will help strengthen the seedlings and minimize the risk of mold or damping off.

To ensure adequate airflow, consider using a small fan.

After the seedlings have reached a suitable height of  2-3 in (5-7 cm), it is necessary to separate them to avoid overcrowding.

Separating seedlings allows each individual plant to have enough space to grow and thrive. To separate the seedlings, carefully loosen the soil around the base of the seedlings, and lift the potting mix together with the small plants taking care not to damage the delicate roots.

Gently separate each seedling and transplant it into separate smaller pots or plastic cups filled with planting mix, one by one. Make sure the containers can drain at the bottom (if not, cut a hole).

Water the transplanted seedlings immediately to help settle the soil and support their recovery.

7. Transplant The Seedlings

Once the seedlings have grown to about 6-8 inches tall and have developed their true leaves, it’s time to transplant them into larger containers or into the garden soil.

First, gradually acclimate the seedlings to outdoor conditions by placing them in a sheltered location for a few hours each day for 1-2 weeks. This process, known as hardening off, helps the seedlings adjust to temperature, wind, and sunlight variations.

When transplanting, dig a hole in the garden bed that is deep enough to accommodate the roots without bending or coiling them. Gently remove the seedling from its container, being careful not to damage the delicate roots.

Place the seedling in the hole, you can even bury the stem and have only the top sets of leaves sticking out of the ground.

Backfill the hole with soil and gently press down to eliminate any air pockets.

8. Provide Proper Care And Maintenance

To ensure successful germination and healthy plant growth, provide proper care and maintenance to your tomato seedlings. Here are some instructions:

  • Water the newly planted seeds gently but thoroughly. Keep the soil evenly moist, but not soggy. Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to seed rot or fungal diseases.
  • Plant the seedlings with proper spacing of 2-3 feet between plants. Crowded plants can lead to poor air circulation and an increased risk of diseases. (Read more here about proper tomato spacing.)
  • Provide support for your tomato plants by placing stakes or cages around them. This will help keep the plants upright and prevent them from sprawling on the ground.
  • Mulch around the base of the plants to regulate soil temperature, retain moisture, and suppress weed growth. Organic mulches, such as straw or wood chips, work well for tomatoes.
  • Fertilize your tomato plants regularly with a balanced organic fertilizer or compost tea. Follow the package instructions for application rates and frequency.

9. Monitor for Pests and Diseases

As your tomato plants grow, it is important to monitor them for common pests and diseases.

Aphids, caterpillars, and tomato hornworms are some of the pests that can damage tomato plants.

Inspect your plants regularly and take appropriate measures to control pests, such as handpicking, natural predators, or organic insecticides. Tomato plants are also susceptible to diseases such as early blight, late blight, and powdery mildew.

To prevent these diseases, make sure to provide adequate spacing between plants for air circulation, water at the base of the plants instead of overhead, and avoid working with the plants when they are wet.

For more information on how to grow and take care of your tomatoes, read our comprehensive guide:

How To Grow Tomatoes: The Beginner’s Guide & Useful Advanced Tips

FAQ About How To Grow Tomatoes From Tomatoes

Can I grow tomatoes from store-bought tomatoes?

Yes, you can grow tomatoes from store-bought tomatoes. However, it’s likely that they are hybrid varieties, which means you most likely won’t get the same types of tomatoes as you bought. If they are open-pollinated varieties, all is OK in that respect.

How long does it take to grow tomatoes from tomatoes?

The time it takes to grow tomatoes from tomatoes is just the same as sowing seeds. From seed to harvest times vary depending on the tomato variety and growing conditions. On average, it takes about 60-85 days from transplanting to harvest.

Do I need special equipment to grow tomatoes from tomatoes?

No, you just need a tray or container that drains at the bottom, a sharp knife to slice the tomatoes, and some planting soil to put the slices into. The rest of the process is the same as growing from seed.

Can I plant tomato slices directly in the ground?

Yes, you can plant tomato slices directly in the ground if the soil temperature is suitable and there is no risk of frost. However, you’ll need to thin the seedlings or transplant them to avoid overcrowding.

Can I use heirloom tomatoes to grow new plants?

Yes, since heirlooms are open-pollinated varieties, you can slice them and plant them into the planting mix as described in this article.

Conclusion

Growing tomatoes from tomatoes is a rewarding and cost-effective way to enjoy fresh, homegrown produce. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this article, you can successfully plant slices and grow tomatoes

So, pick those ripe healthy tomatoes, slice them, and start your journey to growing delicious tomatoes right in your own backyard, balcony, or patio!

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AUTHOR

I'm a keen hobby gardener. I love growing fruits and vegetables, especially tomatoes. I'm also a certified instructor of the Square Foot Gardening Foundation.