This section covers growing seedlings for the home garden from the time the young seedling get their true leaves until transplanting in the garden. If you have skipped ahead and missed how to start seeds that fine, its always good to look ahead but don't forget to go to starting seeds to start at the beginning.
Careful consideration needs to be given to their requirements, correct temperature, light, moisture and nutrients are the key factors to successfully growing vegetable seedlings.
Any place that can provide the young vegetable seedlings with the maximum amount of light, good ventilation, and a consistent temperature, for the vegetable group being grown, is acceptable.
There are 5 basic needs that seedlings have for good germination and subsequent growth.
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After seeds have germinated, they should be given the best possible growing conditions to insure sturdy vigorous plants for transplanting outdoors.
Being aware of the properties of the potting mix being used is important, coconut coir fiber based potting mixes for instance tend to dry out on the top but remain moist further down in the pot, being aware of this and other potting mix properties can avoid unnecessary errors. Follow this link to understand the different potting soils.
Once the seed germination stage have ended and the seedling growth stage begins ( using the development of the first true leaves as our reference point). It is important to treat the seedlings of different vegetable groups separately.
As with seedling temperature, consistency is the key to watering seedling. Check your seedlings on a daily basis to be sure the potting medium isn’t drying out to much. However be careful not to over water, moist but not soggy is a good measure.
Once the seedlings are well established they can survive a “little” neglect without up and dying overnight. Over watering seedling encourages root rot or “damping off” and is probably worse than under watering. It is good to let the top half inch or so of potting soil to dry out a little between waterings.
It is almost impossible to tell the moisture content of the potting mix just by looking. If you don’t have a moisture tester:
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There are some pretty fancy commercial seedling watering systems out there but for the average home gardener growing their own seedlings there are three that are probably the most practical.
Making sure the water you use is room temperature to avoid cooling the soil to much. Tap water is usually well below room temperature especially in late winter early spring when most seedling are being grown. Set the water out for a day or so to warm it up or mix cold water with some from the hot tap.
All seeds come with a packed lunch that will last until the young seedlings roots and true leaves begin to process nutrients. From this point on it is important to ensure adequate nutrients are available throughout the plants entire life cycle to grow successfully.
Move on down this page for another page dedicated to seedling fertilizers.
Lack of light or poor light quality is probably the single most common problem when growing vegetable seedlings. Plants that don’t receive good strong light tend to grow leggy, pale, and weak. As a general guide most seedling require between 8-12 and up to 16 hours of good strong light every day.
There are really only two options for providing the light requirements for seedling, sunlight or artificial light, and either is only as good as their quality.
You would think that sunlight being a natural light source would be the best, however often at the time of year seedlings are being grown indoors adequate natural light can be a problem making artificial light the easy solution. A solution I find much easier to control and rely on.
Once your seedlings are up and growing the next important step in the young seedlings development is pricking out. Pricking out, or thinning out, is the term used in the horticultural industry for the first re-potting or transplanting of seedling that are grown in seed trays or flats where the seeds aren’t ........