Yesterday I was transplanting little seedlings. Actually, at one point I had ten people helping me transplant. We finished twelve flats of seedlings. Some of those flats had seventy-two seedlings in them. So you can say we had it down pat.
I planted those seeds two or three weeks ago, depending on what they were and how fast they germinated. They were sown in a 4″ square pot. I pay special attention to whether the seeds need to be covered with soil or planted on the surface. The seed pack will tell you. Then I put them on a heated bench in the greenhouse, which is ideal for them. At home you could use a heating mat or put them on a warm surface. For germinating seeds, a cold window sill is not the best place. But after they germinate, then they need sunlight.
When they’ve developed at least one true set of leaves (which are not the first leaves you see, those are the cotyledons), you can transplant them. But they are pretty small and hard to handle at that stage for most peoples. So, you can wait a little while untill they are bigger. Don’t wait too long, the smaller, the better for moving them. I like to carefully rest my fingertips on the soil surface and turn the whole thing up side down so it will slide right out. I then break up the soil in half, then quarters. By then the soil starts to crumble and I can pull the seedlings gently apart.
My golden rule, which my volunteers will tell you I enforce is, hold the seedling by a leaf, never the stem or growing tip. If a leaf breaks the plant can still grow, but if you crush the stem or the tip then that’s the end of it.
I use a plastic tray filled with seventy-two plastic cell packs in it. You can use yogurt containers or any other small containers to grow your seedlings in. Use a pencil or spoon to make a hole in the soil that is bigger than the roots of the seedling. Then while holding it by a leaf (remember!) pull the soil back around it gently just untill the seedling can stand upright on its own. You do not have to firm the soil alot. I ususally have to stop my new volunteers from trying to pack the soil down around them. The roots need loose soil to grow in.
Then when you have the whole container filled with seedlings, water well. Put in a warm, shady place the first day, so they can recuperate. After that the seedlings need as much sunlight as you can give them in a house.
I actually use a soilless mix to start and grow my seedlings, but I will tell you about that another time.
Tell me in the comment section, what kind of recycled containers you use at home. Also where you have found warm spots in your house for germinating seeds.
Bye for now, Judy