How to Start Tomato Seeds Without Soil


Tomatoes are probably the first plant you will think of growing when you begin your summer vegetable garden. From salsa to pasta sauces to big, thick slices of sun-ripened tomato on your barbecued hamburgers, tomatoes have the distinction of being one of the most commonly grown backyard vegetables. Many varieties exist, from small, plump cherry tomatoes to the enormous beefsteak. If you like to "think outside the box," search for heirloom varieties of this tropical fruit and enjoy unusual colors such as yellow, orange and even purple to impress your dinner guests. And the best part is, tomatoes are easy to start from seed.

Step 1

Begin your seeds six to eight weeks before your final spring frost. Moisten one or more paper towels and then fold each one into a small "package" of 2 to 3 inches.

Step 2

Scatter 10 to 12 tomato seeds on one side of the moist paper towel and then fold the paper towel over itself.

Step 3

Insert the paper towel into a plastic zipper bag and then seal it.

Step 4

Keep your seeds in a warm location, but out of direct sunlight.

Step 5

Check for germination every two days. When you see the small white root protruding from the seeds, it's time to move your sprouted seeds into soil.

Step 6

Fill small nursery pots (3 or 4 inches) with standard potting soil. Water them well and then poke a hole in the center of each pot with a pencil or screwdriver to about ½ inch. Carefully drop one sprouted seed into the hole in each pot. When your tomato plants are 3 to 4 inches tall, transplant them to the garden, but wait until after your final spring frost.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never allow cigarette smoking in the vicinity of tomato plants because they can introduce the tobacco mosaic virus.

Things You'll Need

  • Tomato seeds
  • Paper towel
  • Plastic zipper bag
  • Small nursery pots
  • Potting soil


  • Victory Seeds
  • Renee's Garden
  • Tomato Gardening Tips
Keywords: tomatoes growing, seeds propagating, vegetables gardening

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hiā€˜iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Barbara wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, and She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.