Friday, March 14, 2014

Foolproof tomato seed sprouting

Tomato seeds are probably the easiest vegetables to sprout,using this method I learned years ago.  It takes all the guesswork out of planting seeds, as by the time you plant you already have germination. There's nothing more frustrating than planting a bunch of seeds only to have 50 percent sprout, leaving you with either empty pots or large spaces in your garden.  With this method, you will have a perfect row of tomato seedlings to nurture until they are ready to go outdoors.

First, take several pinches of tomato seeds and place them on a wet paper towel, sitting on a small saucer. Try and space them out as best you can.  Cover with another wet paper towel on top, place the whole thing into a freezer bag, open at one end to provide just a little air circulation.  

Put it in a warm place (I put mine on the stovetop with the range hood light on) and leave for about 5 -7 days. Check often to make sure the paper towels are not drying out; if they are, spritz them with water until they are moist again.

In 7 - 10 days, you should have something that looks like this:

Sprouts, Dude.

That's right, the seeds have sprouted and sent a good-sized main root into the paper towel itself.

Your next step is to cut your seedlings out, being careful not to trim the root as you do.  You will have many more sprouts than you can use, but try and pick what look like the strongest seedlings for transplanting. And yes, you will destroy other seedlings when you pick the strong ones for planting, unless you have really spaced your seedlings well, which I usually do not.

Cut carefully around main root.

Like this.

Once you have freed each seedling and its root, tuck the whole thing -- the seedling and piece of paper towel its attached to -- into some potting soil, and cover lightly. Keep warm and watered and in no time, your seedlings will be ready to transplant into your garden!

Place in soil and cover lightly with more soil.

Voila!  Tomatoes!

This year I planted Mortgage Lifters and Pink Lady Brandywines.  Both are great multi-purpose heirlooms that produce abundantly and are hardy. Some we will eat, most we will can.


  1. Ahhhhh how wonderful to see things growing! I have used that method for finicky seeds before like delphinium or lupine but never for tomatoes. I love Pink Lady and Mortgage Lifter!!! I am so ready for summer! I have gone insane with my flowers this year. It's still a little early for me to start seeds, so I just keep buying more!

  2. I'm buying lots of flowers, too, in fact I snapped some pics which I will post a little later. It's going to be 85 degrees here tomorrow, and there's a huge wine festival going on called ZinFest. You would love it here this weekend -- lots of blossoms, warm weather AND wine!