Starting your own seeds is a great way to grow unique varieties and save money but once you get your seeds to germinate you need to make sure that you have a nice strong plant to transplant into your garden. Today were going to be talking about seedling care.
You want your starts to be compact strong and short you don't want them to be long, leggy and weak and they way youll get them to be strong is proper temperature, adequate water, good fertilization and a whole lot of light. The ideal temperature for seedlings is between sixty and sixty five degrees warmer temperatures will make them leggy. Damping off is a major killer of seedlings it is caused by fungus and high temperatures, poor light and poor air circulation favor the disease.
Your best defense against damping off is using clean trays and clean tools and removing any disease plant. Seedlings need to be moist but not wet use a gentle spray or mist or else you could wash out your little plant I'm using the Fogg-It nozzle. The first little leaves that appear are the cotyledon leaves or the seed leaves and they look different from the plants adult leaves true leaves appear next and they look like minature versions of the plants adult leaves. After your plants first true leaves appear you can fertilize with a low NPK fertilizer like this organic liquid fish you don't want to much nitrogen or you can get leggy plants. Pair the fish fertilizer with an organic liquid kelp which will provide micro nutrients.
Light is a key ingredient if your not able to start your seeds in a greenhouse then you need to place them in a south facing window with plenty of light and you can supplement the light with a fluorescent bulb or you can use a professional light system like this Ruby Gro-bar Solar Oasis. If your using fluorescent lights like this green thumb light system leave the lights on fourteen to sixteen hours a day, make sure the lights are close to the top of the seedlings only about two to four inches away. Thinning is another thing that's necessary to do to make your seedlings thrive you want to make sure that your seedlings have enough room to grow and develop so thin out weaker seedlings and leave only the strongest one's. With good spacing i like to use snips or scissors for this job because then i don't disturb the roots of the seedlings I'm keeping. Depending on the size of the tray you started your seedling in you may need to transplant them into a pot before you put them in the garden. I like this widger, to easily pop the plants out of their cells and into a larger pot. When it gets close to time to transplant your seedlings you want to take them outside to harden off and put them in a shady sheltered area initially then gradually increase the sun exposure and the amount of time outside until they can spend a full day under direct sun this should be a seven to ten day process. So check the weather reports make sure you don't put them out when it's too cold. Once your little seedlings have two sets of true leaves it's time to plant them into the garden. So take care of your little seedlings and grow organic for life!