With a few short cuts and tips starting seedlings and getting them to a size you can transplant is a lot easier and less time consuming than many would have you believe.
Keep This in Mind
A lot of what and how you do it, depends on what methods work with what you have going on in your life at the time. As I’ve stated in many posts, principles remain fixed but the ways to accomplish those principles are unlimited.
Germinating Inside – Growing Outside
Most of my vegetables I start in pots or preferably the bottom part of jugs if I have them. About 9 of these fit on top of my washing machine. Most germinate in about 6 days. The slowest can take two weeks.
They go outside the day they germinate so they can get the light they need.
It’s only when temperatures are in the 30s (or lower) or if the wind is extreme that I’ll put my makeshift cold frame over them. If temperatures are so severe at night that they need more protection I bundle a row cover fabric and put over them and then put the cold frame over that.
This method makes strong seedlings that don’t have to be hardened off like those grown inside.
A Way to Save Time, Containers, and Grow Mix
By sowing a plentiful amount of seed in a container, you can save time, containers, and grow mix.
I find this to be especially good for most cold weather crops. Pictures provided here will give you an idea of how many I sow per container. You can do whatever suits you.
It’s my finding that cold weather crops do just as well planted small as they do if they’re the size you’d buy at a nursery. Once I see the set of true leaves I don’t hesitate to transplant. And often I’ve planted even before they get their first set of true leaves.
Lettuce especially does not object to being tiny when transplanted to the garden.
Although you can plant the same way with warm weather crops (tomatoes, cukes, eggplant, etc) I find it better to put about 3 seeds per container for those. Then let them get a few sets of real leaves before transplanting. By that time they’ll be the size or larger than what you get at a nursery.
(See this post for picture and more information.)
Another Time Saver
I do NOT pot up anything to larger pots unless there is a special reason to do so. It’s far too time consuming AND takes even more grow mix.
Another Tip for Success – Have Backup
In the real world of your garden, every plant doesn’t always make it. That doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong. It’s just the way of nature.
Even with the most robust plants you can lose some after transplanting.
When planting cold weather crops as shown in the pictures here, I plant the biggest seedlings first. Even if I think there is no more room to plant, I leave the smaller seedlings in the container. Many of those will get a lot bigger. If one already in the garden ends up missing, you’ve got a replacement.
Want to Know More?
I’ve written 49 posts that pertain to or mention seed starting. You can review all of them by going to the home page. Under Popular Organic Gardening Topics click on the topic Seed Starting.
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