Care Of Seedlings Started Indoors

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This article will teach you how to organically grow vegetables from a seed.
by Brett · All Zones · Organic Gardening · 0 Comments · August 17, 2010 · 11,934 views

Care Of Seedlings Started Indoors

Once seedlings germinate, remove the container from the plastic bag. Place the container in a location that has high light intensity and cooler temperatures.

Watering Seedlings Indoors: Watering can be a cause of seedling failure. Keep soil moist but not wet. Small, tender seedlings dry out rapidly and can die. Do not keep the soil soaked. Water when the surface of the soil begins to dry out.

Bottom watering helps prevent damage to the seedlings caused by a hard stream of water. Bottom watering also encourages deep root development and ensures that the entire depth of soil receives moisture. Do not let the pot or flat sit in water longer than it takes for all of the soil to become moist.

Temperature For Seedlings Indoors: Keep seedlings in a well-ventilated, cool location. The temperatures should be 55 to 60 degrees F at night and 65 to 70 degrees F during the day. These temperatures encourage compact, bushy, vigorous growth while minimizing disease.

Light Requirements For Indoor Seedlings: Seedlings require bright light immediately after germination. One warm-white, 40-watt bulb and one cool-white, 40-watt bulb used together are best for seed starting and seedling growth. Fluorescent lights can be used for one year before replacement is recommended.Special grow lights are also suitable, but more expensive. The lights should be no more than 6 inches above the top of the seedlings. Mount the light fixture so it can be raised as the plants grow in height.

Day-length requirements vary with different plants. Most plants that are started from seed benefit from 16 to 18 hours of light.

Fertilizing Seedlings Indoors: Because the growing medium used to start seedlings is usually low in nutrients, a regular fertilization program is important for proper plant growth. Apply a liquid organic fertilizer or organic tea weekly. Dilute fertilizer 1/4 to 1/2 the label's recommended strength and apply sparingly.

Pinching Seedlings: Pinching the growing tips of seedlings will result in more branching. This produces a fuller, stockier plant.

Hardening Off Seedlings Before Planting Outdoors

Plants grown indoors must be gradually introduced to outdoor conditions. If seedlings are not hardened off, leaves may be burned by the intensity of the sun or damaged by wind. Acclimate plants by first placing them in a cool, protected location, such as a porch.

This first step in hardening off allows plants to adjust to outdoor temperatures. After 7 to 10 days, move seedlings into a shaded area of the garden for 2 to 3 days. This will prevent sunscald. Finally, hardened seedlings can be planted directly into the garden as weather permits. Planting on a cloudy day or late in the evening is a sensible precaution.

TIP: Harden off seedlings when four true leaves have formed. Use a 1/4 strength water-soluble fertilizer solution when the plants are transplanted into the garden. If you are tempted to rush the transition to outdoors, remember that herbs generally do not thrive in cold soil.

Transplanting Seedlings Into The Garden Soil

The garden soil should be adequately dry to prevent compaction. At this point, plants will again experience transplant shock and a setback in growth. Plants must adjust to dramatically different nutrient levels, soil temperatures, moisture levels and soil tilth in the garden.

Pull apart the lower portion of the root mass to get the roots growing outward. Although seedlings planted in peat pots may be planted without removing the pot, be sure to maintain the same soil level. Trim away any of the pot that is above the soil line. The exposed portion of the peat pot acts as a wick and dries out the entire pot and roots


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