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Updated: Mar 8, 2021

It is now time to plant!

You have all your seed in the seedling timeline, you have gathered all your supplies, and now you are ready to plant. Here are my Top 6 Tips for the care of your seedlings. In the Online Course you can find a video where I show you how I use my soil blocks. I will also go over how to use your warming mat, potting up, and care of your seedlings. You can join the online course here.

Tip #1 Keeping Good Records

Now that you have worked hard in building your seed variety tracker don’t forget to use it. I have left a place for notes for each variety. But you can also use it to record everything. For example, say your seed packet said that your seeds would germinate in 12-14 days but you realize under your growing conditions in your seedling area you found they germinated sooner. You can change the germination time to fit your situation. Don't forget to add in your mistakes. We can't learn from them, if we forget them. Records will help with your decision and schedule for next year.

Tip #2 Damping Off Disease

When you first build your soil blocks or place your seed started in your biodegradable pots, your seed starter will quite wet. This is good when you first start your seeds. But the soil doesn’t and should not stay this wet. Seeds that stay too wet for too long can mold. Growing seedlings will also suffer from too wet of starter and can even develop damping off disease. This is a white mold that forms in the top of the seed starter mix. Damping Off disease thrives in cool or cold, dark or cloudy, wet or damp conditions. The disease is airborne, and can spread very quickly from one seed tray to another. The fungal spores take root in your soil and quickly spreads across the seed tray, jumping to other trays with ease. It is fatal to young seedlings, nipping them off at the soil level. Take it's habitat away, and the disease can not survive.

You can avoid this disease by:

Buying sterilized seed starting soil.

Using clean, sterilized containers.

Using clean, sterilized containers.

Providing plenty of air circulation.

Using a small fan and direct a gentle breeze across the room. The important word here is "gentle"

Thinning seedlings to increase air circulation.

Providing as much light as possible.

Let the surface of the soil dry out between watering.

Stir the top of the soil around the seedlings.

Tip #3 Light and Lots of It

Once your seed germinate that little seedling is looking for all the light it can get. They will even stretch to reach the light which will cause them to become leggy. I will go into that in Tip #5. Your seedling needs as much and as direct a light source as possible. Placing it by a window with a southern exposure is the first step. But this may not prove to be enough for the seedling to grow healthy and strong. First, the sun is not up as long in the spring as it is in the summer. Second, there are many rainy spring days with little or no direct sun. You should be ready to provide artificial light, especially in the north.

Tip #4 Avoid Root Bound

One of the most common mistakes gardeners make is leaving seedlings in the seed flat too long.  This may cause the seedling to become root bound. Root bound means that the little seedling’s root have out grown the area provided for them. Which will cause them to stop making roots or the root begin to grow back in on themselves. There are two ways to avoid root bound seedlings. First, is to not start you seedling to early. That is where the Seedling Timeline will help you. If you haven't filled yours out yet you can find yours here. Secondly, it to be prepared to pot up your seedlings to give them extra growing room. The ideal time to transplant young seedlings is when they are small and there is little danger of setback from root shock. This is usually about the time the first “true leaves” appear above or between the cotyledon leaves (the cotyledons or “seed leaves” are the first leaves to appear).

Tip #5 Leggy Seedlings

Seedlings are leggy when their main stem or stalk grows tall and thin and can hardly support the leaf structure. It is caused by insufficient sunlight and a sheltered environment. Indoors, they do not experience the effect of wind, and do not need to develop structure to defend against it. Most seedlings do not even experience a slight breeze. When transplanted outdoors, "leggy" plants can be damaged or broken by the wind. You can help them by taking your hand,or a couple sheets of newspaper and fan the plants a few times a day. You can even lightly brush the tops of the plants, brushing back and forth in varying directions. You may notice the plants seem to slow down for a period. What they are really doing is building a stronger stem or stalk. I also suggest rotating them daily to avoid that all common reach for the light. This rotating will also build that stem strength.

Tip #6 Don’t Over Fertilize

Hold back on fertilizing your seedlings. Most seed starter mixes contain enough fertilizer to grow a seedling for 5-6 weeks. But if you are going to keep your seedling in this same seed starter and not pot them up into a soil based potting mix. You are going to need to fertilize. But even then, with what ever liquid fertilizer you use, you MUST dilute it. Or it will burn your tender seedlings. This is even true for the Fish poop, that I recommend.

Enjoy getting your hands dirty. Tell next time.

Pray, Just Plant!

Seeds to Seedling Series

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