Growing Seedlings, continued…
Transplanting Seedlings from a Seedling Flat or Seedbed
When seeds have been sown close together in a flat, the seedlings grow together rather quickly. They soon become overcrowded, tall and spindly (this is why seeds should be sown thinly to begin with) from stretching in competition for light. After 4 true leaves have developed, and as soon as they begin to touch one another, it’s time to transplant seedlings into pots or into cell inserts, where they will have more space.
Follow these steps in transplanting:
1. Water the seedling flat (from bottom) one hour before transplanting, so that seedlings can “drink their fill”. This means a complete soak, so that soil is wet, not just moist.
2. Moisten the soil, or the One-Step into which you’ll transplant, and fill the pots or cell inserts you’ll be growing in to within ¼ inch of the brim. Set pots in a tray. (If you’re transplanting directly to a seedbed, make sure it’s moist, soft and shaded.)
3. Dibble the soil in each pot by making a hole large enough to fit the seedling’s roots. Push the end of a pot label or a pencil an inch or so into the grow mix and move it back and forth to open the hole.
4. Gently remove seedlings from flat. Use a fork or tongue depressor (as pictured) to loosen grow mix and pry the seedlings apart, as you lift them from the seedling flat. Pull them apart carefully. A small ball of soil should cling to the roots.
NOTE: Handle seedlings by the leaves or the soil ball around the roots, not by the stems, in order to avoid injury to the stem.
5. Place the root ball into the hole you have made for it. Gently firm the soil around the roots, then fill in the hole so that the soil surface is level in the pot. Cover only the roots and the base of the stem, not the leaves.
6. Label the pots with the name of the plant.
7. Thoroughly soak with fertilizer solution, from the bottom, the same way as for a seedling flat.