Monty Don shares his secrets to growing perfect tomatoes – his tip will improve tomato seed germination

The expert gardener has revealed his advice on growing tomatoes – just as planting season arrives.

Monty Don tomato growing tip
(Image credit: Future)

Monty Don, the celebrated gardener who is best known as an author and presenter on BBC's Gardener's World, has already shaped our floricultural habits and influenced green-fingers worldwide with his creative gardening techniques – but this is one of his most timely tips yet. 

March and April are the best months to grow tomatoes so there is no better time to arm yourself with Monty's expertise and grow a tomato plant from seeds.

Monty Don's tomato-growing tricks

Monty Don's expert tomato growing tip, selection of tomatoes from a plant

(Image credit: Amateur Gardening)

1. Use seeds from fresh tomatoes 

If you're keen to grow a tomato plant but are unable to pick up seed packets or want to try a home-grown trick, you can use seeds from fresh tomatoes. Simply soak them in water for around 14 hours, dry them with a paper towel, and plant them, using Monty's tips, within one week.

2. Get the planting technique just right

Speaking in a video for BritBox last year, Monty began his demonstration by sharing that he uses a 'seed tray' to grow tomatoes from scratch. Firstly, Monty instructs us to add peat-free compost into the seed tray before explaining: 

'I've chosen a variety called Gardeners' Delight; the best thing to do is to put the seeds into your hand rather than trying to sprinkle them directly because you want to space these out as well as you can.' 

Monty then urges us to push the tomato seeds firmly into the soil by pressing on the surface of the compost. This technique gives you 'really good contact' that 'definitely helps germination.'

Then, 'lightly sprinkle a little bit of compost over the top,' he added. 

See: Monty Don's bird feeding tips – keep them healthy and attract more

3. Water tomatoes, Monty-style

Monty then explained how to add the perfect amount of water to the seeds – through a tip that just might surprise some gardening enthusiasts.

Rather than pouring water over the plant, Monty prefers to place the tray into a bath of water, as he shared:

'Put them either in a sink or a tray of some kind with an inch or two of water and just sit them in like that and leave it for about 10 or 15 minutes. It'll act like a sponge and absorb the moisture.’

Monty then instructed us to leave the soaked seeds somewhere warm, before offering a rough time scale as to when your plant will begin to show signs of life.

‘You should see the seedlings emerge in something between seven and 10 days,’ he concluded.  

See: Take a tour around Monty Don's beautiful Longmeadow garden in Herefordshire 

Monty Don tomato growing tip

(Image credit: Jonathan Buckley/Sarah Raven)

If you've followed Monty's advice it should take between six to eight weeks to grow tomatoes from seed. 

When it comes to transplanting your seedlings out into the garden, make sure not to do this too early. Aim to transplant them about a week after the last expected spring frost date.

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.