Well, you may now have two kinds of situations:
- If you have sprinkled your seeds in a tray filled with compost, your seedlings will be closely packed together.
- If you used the coir pellet with just one seed per block you will have one seedling.
PRICKING OUT YOUR SEEDLINGS
In the first situation, where you have lots of little seedlings together, you might have to prick them out. Pricking out means to gently separate them. Choose the stronger and healthier seedlings and give them some individual space to grow. I would do this job when the seedling is about 5cm high and it has its first leaves out (seed leaves).
To do this I use a pen or pencil (a dibber is the professional tool, but it is not really necessary). I prick the compost with the pencil as close as possible to the base of the seedling. By holding it by one of its baby leaves, I pull it out. Make sure you hold it by the leaves, as the stem is quite fragile. The plant is more likely to grow new leaves, if it loses one, then survive a broken stem.
Then I place the seedling in a single cell tray or in its final position (a larger pot, or a trough). Again you can use a pencil to make the planting hole. Place the seedling root down (and if it’s a bit “leggy” you can cover part of the stem as well) in to the compost.
Then eventually you can transplant the whole block of compost, by gently squeezing the cell tray, and placing it into a bigger pot.
If you are growing in a coir pellet, the process is even easier because you can directly transplant your pellet in to a larger pot filled with compost. Do this when the plant has grown enough and you can see the roots are growing out of the block.
A little trick to allow your plant to grow healthier and develop a good root system is to keep the compost moist, but not completely soaked. An excessive amount of water can cause your seedling to rot or to catch a fungal disease.
You can use a sprayer to gently keep the surface of the soil wet without spoiling the little leaves, or you can put your seed tray or coir pellet on a larger container or plate with just a small amount of water (1-2cm): the growing medium will suck the water up quite quickly and stimulate the roots to grow deeper to reach it.
Now that the weather is lovely and warm allow your plant to stay outside as much as possible. A fine breeze will make them grow stronger – but do avoid the midday sun, if the seedlings are still too small.
Happy gardening to all you growers!
CLYO PARECCHINI, LIVEWELL COORDINATOR
Clyo heads up Wen’s Live Well cooking and food growing courses in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Classes explore in a practical way how diet and lifestyles has an impact on the planet. Attendees learn and try new plant based recipes, spend time in the community garden and enjoy a delicious lunch.