This Spring we started tomato seeds inside to try and get a head start on yummy produce. We’ve done seedlings inside before with mixed results. Last year we took them outside too early and the cold weather stunted them. This year they seem to be off to a much better start.
We started by using an old egg carton filled with dirt from our garden to start a dozen seeds. Nine germinated in our chilly house and we repotted those to pint sized plastic containers. Each time that you repot tomatoes, you want to set them deeper into the soil. The little hairs/fuzz along the stem will turn into new roots and make the plant stronger and more drought resistant. Yesterday, I repotted the plants a second time from pint containers to quart containers.
I like to wet the soil of the smaller container first to help the dirt stick together. You want to be especially careful of the tomato plant stem. If it breaks, the plant is a write off. Clip or pinch off any low leaves on the stem and bury the plant up to the first true leaves.
The rule of thumb is to repot whenever the tomato is 3 times taller than the diameter of the pot. By doing multiple repotting, you can develop a large and strong root system that will keep the tomatoes from splitting during hot summer days.
Starting seeds inside is a great way to be frugal. You can reuse plastic pots almost indefinitely. I looked up quart sized cherry tomato plants at one of our nearby big box stores and they were selling for $4/plant. We currently have seven plants at that size, so the seeds pay for themselves. In a few more months we should have an abundant crop of delicious cherry tomatoes!