Last year was our first attempt at starting seeds indoors. We didn’t know exactly what we were doing and ended up with weak and spindly seedlings. Over the winter we did a lot of research and determined what our main problems were – not enough light or nutrients.
So this year we are learning from our mistakes. We purchased better lights and installed them directly above the seedlings. We also have the lights much closer to the actual seedlings, only 1-2 inches above.
Last year (and with the first seeds we started this year), we waited too long after the seeds had sprouted to put them under the lights. Now we have been moving the trays under the lights as soon as we see the first couple seedling peeking up from the dirt.
We are also transplanting the seedlings to larger containers much sooner. After the first true leaves (the ones that actually look like the plant, usually the second set of leaves to appear) have become a decent size, we start transplanting. If you take your plant out of the cell pack and notice that the roots are densely packed or all trying to get out the bottom, you waited too long!
We also purchased a water soluble organic fertilizer. When we transplant the seedling to the larger container, we mix potting soil with water which has the fertilizer mixed in. The seedling will double in size within a week after getting all those nutrients!
The combination of these changes has resulted in some strong, stocky, thick-stemmed plants that look so much healthier than last year’s variety.