Monday, March 21, 2011

Seedling Transplant

This is one of my favorite gardening tasks...potting up little plants that I grew from seeds :)  The tomatoes and eggplant I seeded back in February are big enough for me to plant each in its own little pot for some additional time under the grow lamp. Look at these little beauties!

But there is one part of this task that I hate!  Thinning the seedlings :/  It pains me to have to pull and discard a perfectly healthy seedling just because I planted 2 seeds and only need one plant.

But there is no other way to do this.  I don't have room for that many seedlings.  As it is now, I'll likely give away a few tomato and pepper plants.  But that's OK.  To me, that's simply part of gardening :)

Anyway, when transplanting the seedlings, it's important that the soil be nice and loose and full of good organic matter.  So I make a mixture in my wheel barrel of the following:  good potting soil, organic compost, sphagnum peat moss and organic fertilizer.

As an aside, yes, I know the potting soil is upside down.  My lovely pup, Laci, so graciously chewed a hole in the bottom of the bag that I had to stand it upside down to open it!

I mix equal parts, potting soil and compost but add a third more peat moss to make sure the mixture is not too heavy or compact.  I then add a scoop of organic fertilizer and mix it all together and this is what it looks like:

  Good soil is such a beautiful thing!

It's a pretty straightforward process from here.  I use small pots that I've collected over the years;

Put a seedling in each pot, fill it with the potting mixture, and set it under the grow lamp. 

I ended up planting 18 tomato plants, 3 cherry tomato plants and 3 Italian white eggplant seedlings.  So yes, I will definitely be giving some plants away!  But I just love it!  Look at my little rows of tiny seedlings :)  They look like little soldiers all lined up. 

Now it's just a matter of more grow time.  I lowered the grow lamp to where it is just above the top of the tallest plants.  I'll have to keep moving it up as the plants grow, but placing it close to the seedlings prevents them from getting too leggy. I also keep the heater on in the greenhouse overnight to make sure the temperature stays pretty warm and consistent.  

What a wonderfully productive, FUN day in the greenhouse!


  1. Hi Diane, I didn't know about moving the grow lamp to keep the plants from getting leggy. Good tip! I too hate thinning seedlings - like you, I know it's for the surviving plants benefit but it hurts my heart. Thanks for posting your soil recipe too! I'm learning so much from your posts!

  2. Morning Cat! Thinning is the *worst* part of gardening and yes, it hurts my heart too :/ But I know it's for the best. Thank you for your interest in my little Texas's always great to hear from you :)

  3. I know that when I transplant tomato starts it is a good thing to plant as much of the stem as possible because that encourages more roots and a stronger plant. Is the same thing true for pepper plants? Or should the seedlings be transplanted at the same soil level?

  4. Hi Seren Dippity! Yes, I plant my tomatoes the same way...very deep and as much of the stem as possible. But I don't do that for my peppers. I transplant them at the same soil level. That seems to work best. Thank you for visiting :)