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Gardening requires a steady amount of seedlings to be started and transplanted. That is, unless you take the old fashioned approach of tossing all of your seeds out into the dirt, watering them, and hoping for the best.
In this article, we share with you everything that you need to know about starting seedlings, growing them out to proper size, and transplanting into the garden or containers.
How to Start Seedlings
Starting seedlings is a pretty big deal for most gardeners. For those who prefer to buy transplants from the local market for their gardens, there are less seedlings to be started.
But, even then, not all plants are popular enough to purchase from the market. That said, you will still need to start a few crops from seed if you want to grow them in your garden.
The process is a pretty simple one, though it should be undertaken with a delicate approach. Seeds are, after-all, somewhat fragile and require very specific conditions to germinate and sprout.
What you need to start seeds
First, you’ll need to gather a few things before you can start the seeds for your garden:
- Seeds for each type of plant you want to grow
- A soil mix of your choice (we suggest mixing a bit of peat moss with a rich potting-soil mix)
- Small containers (seed trays, yogurt cups, and other small containers work just fine)
- Seed trays or boxes for containers (optional – these just make things easier, they aren’t necessary)
- A location that receives plenty of light and stays at least semi-warm (windowseals inside your home, greenhouses, and hothouses are ideal)
- A watering can to keep the seedlings moist (or trays that water can be added to directly, to sit your seedlings in so that they can wick the water up through the holes in the bottoms of their containers)
You’ll also need to do a bit of research on each individual type of plant you’re starting from seed. Some plants can be started virtually anytime of the year, especially with the help of a greenhouse or hothouse.
However, some plants are very picky about what time of the year they wish to be started. Make sure that you are fully aware of the season each type of seed your starting is suggested to be planted in.
Steps to starting seeds
When you’re ready, starting seeds is as simple as these easy steps:
- Fill as many containers as you need with your preferred soil mix (make sure it isn’t compacted)
- Pre-water each container so that they are nice and moist before you plant in them
- Consult the packaging, or expert gardeners, for the planting depth of each type of seed you will start
- Using a pencil, stick, or finger, and poke small holes at the proper depth in each container
- Place no less than two or three seeds into each container
- Place your containers, seeds trays, or pots in the warmest and sunniest space you can find
- Lightly water your newly planted containers
- Check your containers at least two to three times a day and add a bit of water as needed
How to Transplant Seedlings
Eventually, typically anywhere from three days to approximately two weeks, your seeds will sprout and work their way up through the soil and peek through. Once you can visibly see the greenery from your seedlings, they will require enough sun, and water, to become as strong and healthy as possible.
As your seedlings being to grow, and transform into actual plants, they will require more attention than before. This is the time to weed-out the unhealthy or damaged plants. It is also time to start “hardening” the plants.
Hardening is a process in which you begin to expose your plants to the actual environment that they will be growing in once transplanted. This is done simply by removing your seedlings from their place in the greenhouse, hothouse, or window-seal, and placing them outside for a few hours each day.
You can start hardening your plants for as little as an hour to two the first day or two. That said, you’ll want to increase the amount of hours they spend outside over the next few days. The process should take anywhere from several days to a couple of weeks maximum.
Steps to transplanting seedlings
After seedlings have been hardened it’s time to transplant them into the garden or containers that you’ll be growing them in for the rest of the season.
Here are the steps:
- Water the seedlings a bit more than normally (don’t worry, it won’t hurt them)
- Prepare a place for them in the garden or containers you wish to grow them in for the rest of the season (this involves making rows or holes for the seeds, watering the area, and removing weeds nearby)
- Remove the seedlings from their starter-containers and place them into their newly prepared homes (there are many ways to remove seedlings from starter-containers – simply putting one hand on the soil around the seedling and with the other hand flipping the container upside down and gently squeezing the sides typically works just fine)
- Place the transplants into the garden or containers you’ve prepared and firmly pack their roots into the soil
- Water the freshly planted transplants and you’re finished
- An optional step is labeling your new plants with some sort of marker so that you don’t forget which crop is which (not necessary if you’re only growing one or two types of plants, otherwise it’s highly suggested)
Aftercare of Transplants
When you have successfully grown your seedlings and transplanted them into your garden you need to give them plenty of attention.
For the first two or three days after being transplanted your new plants are at their most vulnerable state of existence in their entire life-cycles. This is why proper aftercare of transplants is crucial for a successful crop.
Here are a few of our top suggestions regarding the aftercare of transplants:
- Make sure the transplants are getting plenty of sun (the proper amount varies from species to species – a general rule of thumb is no less than four to six hours per day)
- Water the transplants a bit more than normally (you want them to remain moist for at least a two or three-day period – this gives the transplants time to stabilize themselves and begin growing out their roots)
- Weed out any transplants that have completely dried out (or are otherwise obviously no longer living)
- If you are able, replace any of the transplants you’ve removed during this transition period (for this reason it’s good practice to grow a few more seedlings than you wish to plant, and hold a few back for filling in the gaps in your garden)
For the most part, plenty of sun, water, and paying close attention to each plant is generally all it takes to ensure that your transplants survive and grow into healthy thriving plants.
Some plants are harder to grow than others, and may require more or less water than typical crops. Be sure that you’ve educated yourself adequately about each type of plant you plan to grow before starting seeds or transplanting directly into your garden.
A Final Word About Growing and Transplanting Seedlings
With the above steps, you’ll be able to start your first seedlings and have your transplants transferred to your garden in no time.
Starting plants from seeds and transplanting them into your garden is about as basic as it gets when it comes to growing fruits and vegetables (or flowers for that matter).
But, it can be a challenging undertaking nonetheless. It is also one of the most rewarding experiences involved with gardening. You can also opt to start your seeds in sponges.
If your new to gardening, and still have questions about how to grow seeds and transplant them, feel free to drop us a line in the comments section below. We’ll be glad to help you get going with your seeds and transplants!
Good luck with your new plants!
Suggested Reading: HOW TO PLAN A NEW GARDEN
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