Transplanting Seedlings and Getting Them Garden Ready
So you got through the first step…you planted your seeds for your spring garden. If you followed the steps in part one of this post, by now your seedlings should be growing and thriving.
Now it is necessary to transplant them out of their tiny egg carton homes. This is an extremely important step in successfully growing your own seedlings for your garden. The seedlings need nutrients from the soil and small spaces only have so many nutrients! It is time to transplant your plants to a larger container with quality potting soil, so they can grow large and strong enough to survive once planted outside. I have learned (many times the hard way) lots of tips that should help as you transplant your delicate seedlings, so here’s my tried-and-true method. Happy Transplanting!
Step 1: Thin the seedlings. Gently pull out the longest / leggiest seedlings, leaving 1-2 strong seedlings in each space of the egg carton.
Step 2: Decide on your new containers. Any recycled pot will do the trick. Look for something at least 3-4 inches deep. I like to reuse yogurt containers, but you can use peat pots, recycled tin cans, etc. Using a hammer and nail, punch up a bunch of holes into the bottom of the container for drainage.
Step 3: Fill your new containers with moist, quality potting soil about an inch from the top. Use your finger to make a small dent in the soil to fit the single egg carton.
Step 4: This is usually the most difficult part, but I’ve found that the egg cartons makes this part a lot easier. Separate the egg carton into the individual seedlings. Gently tear away a bit of the bottom of the egg carton, being careful not to disturb the roots of the seedling. Place the entire egg carton into the new container. Cover with soil.
Step 5: Now that your seedlings are happy in their new home, gently water them in to remove any air pockets in the soil.
Step 6: Put your seedlings near a sunny window, but give them a few days to recover from their move before placing in direct sunlight. Water as needed, being careful to not over water. I use a small squeeze bottle to get just the right amount of water to the plants.
Step 7: Hardening Off – a crucial stage! Use a flat from the garden center, a baking tray, or even a boot tray to put all of your seedlings on for easy transport. About ten days before you plan to plant them in the garden, begin the process of hardening them off. You will want to start by bringing them outside on warm, sunny days to get them ready to be outdoors in the garden. In the beginning, place them in a wind-protected spot, in filtered light. Gradually increase the amount of time they spend outdoors and increase the time they spend in direct sunlight each day.