Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Transplanting Seedlings

I've been watching the tomato seedlings, and they have grown to the point where they are too big to remain in their "starter cells."  It is time to transplant.  

Gather all materials in one place:  organic potting soil, recycled pots, plant tags and pen, recycled solid trays, trowel, spoon, and gloves. Do this in a location that is easy to sweep-clean.  A little music and a nice glass of tea for the potter.

Preparing for transplanting
Personal note: After trying many things over the years, I have settled on the investment of plastic plant labels (bought in bulk online) and a Sharpie* Industrial marker (red lettering) for my labeling.  These hold up not only for the entire season, but I am reusing them again this year.  Be sure to use the industrial marker as it is heat resistant and thus fade-proof (I learned this trick from a local nursery employee).
Choose the strongest seedlings to transplant, so not everything "makes the cut."  Keep many more than you can use at this point simply because not all of them make it to the end.  This allows you to gift some to family and friends when it gets close to planting time.

Gently pull the plant from the tray and loosen the soil from the bottom but not completely exposing the roots,  Place this plant completely to the bottom of the pot, then pinch off any/all leaves that would be buried. Completely fill in the pot. If one is a leggy transplant, very gently bend the stem in the pot in order to get it buried well.  Roots will develop all along the base of the stem.

Loosen soil from roots, plant completely to the bottom of the pot.
Continue this until you have all the transplants that you want.  Don't worry if they look a little crooked or droopy, some water and a few hours will perk them right up.

A little droopy upon transplant, the ones in foreground didn't "make the cut"
one too leggy, another too small, and I had enough of this variety to keep and share.

Some water and a few hours later, they are looking good
Keep them inside and under another florescent light (I borrowed one, with permission, from hubby's workshop) and put them on the same timer as the rest of the seedlings.  On nice, overcast days, you may begin putting them outside a little at a time to start the hardening off process.

These may or may not need to be transplanted again prior to putting them in the garden. If these outgrow their pots, transplant them once more into a larger pot.  In this case, follow the same routine as above: loosen soil around roots, place plant completely to the bottom of the pot and pinch off any leaves that would be buried.  Once again, the plant will develop a larger root zone along the buried stem.

This same process is also followed for the peppers when it is time. 

I hope this helps.

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