Starting Seeds for the Garden 5

Grow lights are not necessary but it certainly makes it easier to get good results, larger transplants, and healthier flowers

  the tray of seedlings plus empty 9-packs

So I first got out the tray of seedlings plus empty 9-packs and set it up to receive more seedlings. I should be labeling each 9-pack but I have the arrogance to believe I will recognize each type of plant by its appearance even as a seedling. I do keep a written record but labels are a great friend. All it takes a popsicle stick with the variety and maybe the date on it.

 moving seedlings to a foam dish for separation

One of the most helpful things for me when moving seedlings is a foam dish. This one is square and hot pink. My grandchildren approve. On it a I lay a folded peice of paper towel and soak it with water. Then a clump of seedlings is removed from a slot and put in the water. That tool on the left is amini trowel I got years ago and just fits the slots in the planter. It is a handy accessory but I have not seen it for sale lately. Popsicle sticks work really well to get into the slots and lift out plants. A box of 1000 probably costs less than one of the trowels.

one seed tray of 9-packs

Each seedling is separated from its peers and moved to a separate cubical in a 9-pack. Always handle the seedlings by a leaf and not the stem. Soaking them in the watered tray helps to separate the roots with minimal shock. The larger the plants the greater the root development and the harder it is to move them.

 I like to have all plant cells filled

Having filled one tray of 9-packs I proceed to fill 2 others. The idea of starting with the 20 slot tray and moving on to 9-packs instead of starting with the 9-packs is every cell in the 9-packs gets filled with viable plants while some seeds will not sprout and could lead to empty cells. This is not a horrible problem and indeed some seedlings may die but with limited grow space I like to have all plant cells filled.

All the trays are placed under the lights

All the trays are placed under the lights ready to grow on under humidity domes. The slotted tray is on the right just because I have the room and some more seeds may sprout and grow. Many of the impatiens seedlings have not appeared and I have been careful with the few I have harvested not to disturb any seeds.

four trays of seedlings under the lights

NIne days later the impatiens have sprouted will and 72 very small impatiens seedlings have filled a 72 cell tray, in other words 8 9-packs. Realizing the light source was limited in its abilty to reach all the tray surfaces I have added another shop light. I can see the day soon when I shall need another tier and will have to make something a little more elaborate.