Transplanting your seedlings
April 22, 2009
1. When seedlings have one or two sets of leaves, it is time to transplant them into individual containers. Start by watering the seedlings well before transplanting. Loosely fill containers or cell packs with moistened potting soil, then make a hole for the roots with your fingers in each container or cell.
2. Gently remove the seedlings from the tray. While holding onto the leaves of the seedling, use a butter knife or popsicle stick to gently lift up under the roots to remove the seedling. Always handle the seedling by the leaves or the root ball; the stem is very fragile and can easily be injured.
3. Place seedling in hole of individual cell or container. For very small plants like lettuce, I often put two plants in a cell.
4. Firm soil around seedling, adding soil to fill container or cell to the top.
5. When transplanting is finished, water seedlings with a weak fertilizer solution, and let them rest for 8-12 hours before putting them under grow lights or in a sunny window.
6. If growing on under lights, have the lights 1 or 2 inches above the top of the leaves, and move the lights up (or plants down) as the plants grow. Placing a fan to blow on the plants will make them sturdier, as will growing them on in cooler temperatures. Check your seed packet directions for recommended growing on temperatures.
7. Monitor for moisture; let the surface of the soil dry before watering again, and feed once a week with a very diluted solution of water soluble fertilizer. (Such as 1/4 teaspoon granular Miracle Gro to 1 gallon of water.)
8. A week before planting outside, begin to harden off the seedlings. Move the trays of seedlings outdoors in a shady location, and a protected area out of the wind. Bring them back indoors each evening for the first few days. After a few days, move to a half sun location, and a few days later to a full sun location. Keep them well watered, and move out of the sun if they show signs of wilting. Now you shouldn’t have to bring them indoors overnight unless the weather turns cold. After a week of hardening off, your transplants should be ready to get planted in your gardens or outside containers.