Food & Drink
Care for vegetable seedlings

Care for vegetable seedlings

You can extend your growing season by starting your vegetable plants indoors. This will allow you to harvest earlier and offer more variety. These tips will help you get your vegetable plants off the ground with ease.

When planting a vegetable garden in the spring, you can plant seeds or purchase seedlings from your local garden centre. While seeds are inexpensive compared to the cost of vegetable seedlings, there are other factors to consider in making your decision.

Like all gardening, growing great vegetables takes experience. Success will depend on a lot that is out of your control, including rainfall, temperature, and soil type, to name just a few considerations. There are some common mistakes to avoid starting that will save you time and effort and increase your chances for a bountiful harvest.

Growing seeds may not be practical for long-season plants in regions with short growing seasons. That’s why, when it comes to long-season plants such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant, most gardeners purchase seedlings or established potted plants from the nursery—or start their seeds indoors weeks before planting time. 

Starting Seeds Indoors

It would help if you chose the right container and medium to meet the requirements of the varieties you are growing. You can find common containers in commercially available flats and seed-starter trays, cell packs, peat-pots and flower pots, as well as plastic-foam, paper cups, and aluminium baking trays. Make sure that each container has proper drainage. To prevent the spread of plants diseases, clean containers that have been previously used. To start seeds, choose a lightweight, sterile seedling mixture. Combine the medium and enough water to moisten it well. Mix the medium with enough water to moisten the mixture.

Small vegetable seeds should be sown at a rate of eight to ten seeds an inch.

Sow the Seeds

It would help if you sowed small vegetable seeds in rows at an average rate of 8-10 seeds per inch. With a pencil or label, make indentions about 1/4 inch deep. Sprinkle the seeds evenly among the rows. To ensure that the seeds contact the medium, cover them with the potting mixture and press gently. Use individual containers to place the seeds. Cover them with 1/4 inch of soil. If three seeds germinate, you can remove two seedlings at the soil level and leave the strongest one.

When your seedlings have grown some “true leaves”, you can transfer them to individual containers.

Transplanting to individual containers

Before you plant your seeds outdoors, it is important to transplant flat-grown seeds into individual containers. After developing some “true leaves”, you can transplant them into individual containers. The seed leaves will appear first, then the true leaves will follow. Use a spatula or knife to gently lift the best-looking plants from the bottom of the seedbed. Separate the plants from neighbouring ones by holding them by their true leaves. The new medium should be deep enough to allow roots to pass through it without becoming clumsy or crowded. The soil should be pressed tightly around the roots. The new plants should be watered thoroughly.

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