Your seeds have germinated and sprouted so you are proud as punch! But now what? How do you get your seedlings to become successful starter plants to transplant into your garden?
When growing seeds indoors, once germination has occurred, adequate light is crucial. If light is lacking your garden seedlings will rapidly become spindly as their stems grow reaching for light instead of producing leaves. If seedlings should begin to show these signs, give them more light. If you are using fluorescent bulbs, place your seedlings front row and center in the strongest part of the light source.
It is also crucial when starting seeds that your seedlings never dry out. Seedlings should be checked daily. When watering it is much better to water growing seedlings by adding water to the bottom trays to be absorbed by the soil as overhead watering is rather hard on the new seedlings. Check later and remove any left over standing water.
Your plants will soon produce their first set of leaves. Shortly after you will notice the growth of their second set of leaves. If you are using germination flats or cell packs, it is at this stage that they should be transplanted into larger containers to allow for proper root growth. Although yours seedlings will appear to be very fragile they can be dealt with. Rather than holding them by the stem, grasp them by their leaves and using a fork or small transplant tool, gently lift them from the soil. Only choose the healthiest and strongest plants.
Add soil to your replant pots and poke a small hole in the center with your finger or a pencil. Gently lower the roots of your seedling into the hole and cover lightly with dry soil mix. Plant them slightly deeper than they were in the original germination flat.
*** If you have used soil blocks or individual peat pots for germination, this transplanting seeds procedure is not required. Your plants can go from seed to full grown seedlings in the original container.
When you transplant your seedlings be sure to keep them well labelled. It is very easy for them to get mixed up with other varieties. As well, you will not be starting all your seeds at the very same time, so a natural pace will develop for real estate under the lights and eventual potting out into the garden and so on.
As the season progresses and the weather warms up, some seedlings will eventually move outdoors to a protected spot to harden off or to a cold frame if you have one. Usually plants are returned to the indoors at night to start or if the weather turns cold and nasty. Growing seeds does take a certain amount of patience and care, but the reward is well worth the effort required. (photos by pixabay)
To learn about how to start your seeds read my article: How to Start Seeds
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(some photos are from Pixabay)