Sunday, March 8, 2009

How To Grow Vegetables from Seed: After Germination

Here are the two pak choy punnets. The one on the left is the forgotten punnet, a few weeks old, and the other was planted last week. Isn't it wonderful to see tiny plants appearing in your punnets?

They had dried out a bit this morning, so I gave them water with a soluble fertiliser. Don't use soluble fertilisers on seeds: seeds have enough nutrient for germination, and too much nutrient does more harm than good. Appropriate warmth and light are more important than fertiliser, anyway.

The next step is to thin the punnets so that you have one healthy seedling in each cell. Planting several seeds in each cell allows us to choose the best.

Make sure the growing medium is moist. If it isn't, you may find too much medium -- or even the wrong plants! -- comes out when you pull the unwanted seedlings. Moisture also minimises root damage and shock to the plant you want to keep.

I use my fingers to thin seedlings, but you might prefer tweezers. I press a finger into the seed raising mix when I uproot a seedling, to prevent too much root damage to the others.

Any that are sickly-looking should go. Check for any plants which have stems thinning near the base and pull them. Look for a sturdy, upright stem. If you still have a choice, leave the one that is nearest the middle of the cell.

Feed the thinnings to your guinea pigs, chooks, worms or compost heap. Actually, you could even eat these ones yourself, though I suggest washing them first...

Here is the final result of thinning, with a single healthy seedling left in each cell. You might notice that one cell contains no healthy seedlings; that is the price of neglect. Now, I need to wait for the seedlings to grow to planting-out size.

Previous posts in this series are Ingredients and Method and Mistakes.


Anonymous said...

Thinning was my downfall last year. I tried some container gardening, which worked great and inspired me to start a real one, but I know those in the pot suffered because I didn't thin them. It's hard! It really is! The thought of just yanking out all those great plants kills me, but no doubt, this year, it will have to be done.

Anonymous said...

I'm terrible when it comes to thinning as well. I keep thinking to myself - "what if I pull out the good ones and accidentally leave a dud and then that dies". LOL.