New seedlings---teach me

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by tallpines, Apr 9, 2004.

  1. tallpines

    tallpines Well-Known Member

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    Ok---got the seeds planted and some lights in place----one warm and one cool bulb in each of 2 - 4 ft. shop lights.

    Tell me more about this "TRUE leaves" business.
    Do I need to add more soil as the seeds begin to grow?
    Tell me when to transplant.

    How long is the extra lighting needed?
    Until they go outside?
     
  2. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The lights need to nearly touch the plants. Shouldn't have to add any soil as the seedlings grow under the lights. A common problem found with newly started plants is "damping off" The little plants will seem to rot off right at ground level. My sugar doodle got around this by mixing cinnamin into the peatmoss used to sprinkle finely on top the starting soil. If the plants are already up, it can be sifted around the new tiny plants. When most seeds surface, the top is really the seed its self. It can vary a lot as to how long it takes the seedlings to set on true leaves. Some take a couple weeks or more. When they get true leaves you can transplant them into flats with the little devider trays in them, one plant per space.. Keep your lights right down on top the plants but not touching until you are ready to set them outdoors. It helps to toughen up the plants if you take your hand and rub across the top of them daily. Also before atempting to set the plants outdoors the trays of plants need to be taken outdoors every day until they get "hardened off"
    Best to not put them in the wind or direct sunlight at first. If they wilt out there, bring them back in till the next day.
     

  3. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I start the seeds in the little peat pucks that expand when you add water.

    I don't wait for the first set of real leaves. I transplant to a larger container as soon as roots are visible on little peat puck. I've noticed in the past that roots emerge not long after the seed sprouts. The root system develops just ahead of the leaves. I have read that the first roots are fragile and critical to survival of the seedling. The environment outside of the peat pot is not ideal for the roots and I have seen that root growth slows as soon as they show. This happens a good ten days before the first set of true leaves. I figure the roots hit the air, stop, and start growing inward. When the puck is full of roots, the root growth resumes around the outside edge of the puck. Sometimes the root will go straight through the puck wrapper, and sometimes it searches and winds around a little before it breaks through.

    I also remove the little fibre wrapper that surrounds the peat puck when I transplant. I just started the removal of the wrapper this year because I noticed when I pulled up last years plant remains that the root balls were not much larger than the peat pucks themselves. I also noticed that new roots inside the puck do not immediately emerge through the wrapper. They start to circle the puck. I started a few tests last week. I transplanted one where I left the wrapper intact, one where I sliced the wrapper, and and one where I removed the wrapper. The same seeds were planted on the same day and sprouted on the same day. I also put two pucks in one pot. One with a wrapper and one without.
     
  4. SueD

    SueD Well-Known Member

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    Mind you - I'm NOT an expert!!! But, here's what I do...

    I start my seeds in rows in flats. The lights go about 2 - 3 inches above the soil. Mine stay on 24/7 until each plant is happily in its own container, then its off and the plants are in a sunny window (which requires turning them daily, usually - so that they don't grow all to one side - they will 'follow' the sun.)

    Keep all seedlings moist, but not wet. They shouldn't damp off that way - at least if you use soil-less potting mix or sterilized soil. Keep the lights as low as you can without touching any plants... The higher the lights, the more spindly the plants. Plants grow to light - any light... Keep it low, and they are fuller, greener and healthier.

    The seedlings are transplanted as soon as they get their first set of true leaves... This means that you have a pair (usually, a pair, sometimes only one leaf, though) that resembles what the parent plant will look like. True leaves are the first 'adult' leaves, and the second actual set that forms. The first leaves you will see before the 'true' ones usually are rather round and non-descript. This is also when they get their first dose if you fertilize... A weak manure tea would be good... but I cheat and use Miracle-gro - either the soil (so no extra fertilizers!!) or the mix - weak.

    If you use the peat pots, you only plant one seed in each, so its really easy to skip the waiting - you just plant the peat pot as per the instructions in the other post.

    If you use a flat, use a table fork to pick out your seedlings, or, as I do, pinch them up with a little of the soil around the roots.

    Seedlings are pretty hardy for their size, but do be careful to keep the roots intact as possible (nearly impossible not to lose a few) and not damage the stem. For tomatoes, replant into pots deeper than they were... Their stems will root in moist soil, giving you a better and heartier plant. I usually do it with everything, but there are better experts on particular plants than I am, so....

    If you leave them in the flats too long, you will see roots coming up through the top of the soil, and they will be hard to seperate, but don't despair. Under normal conditions, you will never have to add more soil to the flat - just transplant into their first new containers. You cannot avoid losing some roots when this happens, but the plants will be ok. You might have to break some of the roots at this stage, but keep as many as you can attached to the plant. Some things, like tomatoes (again!) may be transplanted into larger containers 2 - 3 - even 4 times before they get hardened off and put in the garden. Gram's used to do that - I just start mine a little later, lol.

    Hardening off - I count my first step when I put them into individual containers and set before the window. After a couple days there, I open the windows for a couple hours a day... Then, on really nice days, I take them outside for a couple hours, leaving them a little longer each day until they can stay out overnight. Once they've been staying out overnight for a few days, then they go into their spot in the garden. After being pampered so thoroughly under the lights, they need the gradual hardening off process to become accustomed to things like sun, wind and sprinkles.

    Good luck!!!

    Sue
     
  5. "Tell me more about this "TRUE leaves" business."
    These are the leaves that appear AFTER the first two leaves that appeared on your plant(s).

    "Do I need to add more soil as the seeds begin to grow?"
    Nope!

    "Tell me when to transplant."
    When the plants become too big for their current container, ie root bound. You want to transplant before they outgrow their container if you want to maintain max growth rate.

    "How long is the extra lighting needed? "
    After you have germination and first true leaves, the extra light is not needed, unless you want to keep your plants gowing at thei optimum rate, ie they will slow down their growth if you remove the "extra lightening" until the natural lightening is sufficient for further growth.
     
  6. Lannie

    Lannie Well-Known Member

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  7. violets

    violets Member

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    Tallpines,

    More [ame=http://www.google.com/search?num=100&hl=en&lr=&ie=ISO-8859-1&oe=ISO-8859-1&newwindow=1&q=seedlings+true+leaves+dampening+off+sterile+soil+harden+off&btnG=Search]information for you[/ame]

    :)