Seed Starting 101 – Keep them growing

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.

Our new lights are directly above the seedlings, and only 1-2 inches away from the tallest plant.

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.

The seedlings on the left have just emerged from the soil, and have their first set of leaves - so we put them under the lights. The seedlings on the upper right are just starting to develop their first true leaves. On the bottom right, you can clearly see the first true leaves - usually the second set of leaves to appear. The true leaves are the first leaves that actually look like the plant.

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.

Pepper seedlings in their larger containers

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!

The organic water soluble fertilizer we are using. I believe we got this at Home Depot. A little bit goes a long way.

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!

A newly transplanted tomato seedling in the foreground, and a forest of strong, healthy tomato seedlings that were transplanted a couple weeks earlier in the background.

The combination of these changes has resulted in some strong, stocky, thick-stemmed plants that look so much healthier than last year’s variety.

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About Emily

Mom to my amazing 3 year old daughter. Partner to my loving husband. Full time working architect by day. Gardner, Cook, Sewer, Crafter, Knitter, DIYer by night.
This entry was posted in Dirt, organic gardening and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Seed Starting 101 – Keep them growing

  1. Your seedlings look beautiful! Good luck with your garden this year!

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