Transplanting seedlings

Every year I get lots of questions on how to start seeds and transplant seedlings. To see how I start the seeds go here, but here’s how I transplant my baby seedlings up into larger pots.

transplanting seedlings_before transplanting

Here are the seedlings today from when I planted on February 8.  Notice the first true leaves are showing. They are now ready to transplant. Can’t let them get too big in these shallow seedling trays. With my marks, I can see what didn’t germinate.

 

seed starting tray with journal entry.jpg

Here’s the line up of what each number represents again if you want to see how each seed variety grew.

 

transplanting seedlings_rinse packs

I use 4 and 6 pack pots for transplanting up. I disinfect them in a kitchen sink full of water with about 2 tablespoons of bleach. Just dunk the pots and any trays you may use and then rinse them off and they are ready to plant. You don’t have to scrub them, just dip them in quickly, like they use to do with the glasses in those old college bars (oops, giving away my past!) If they are brand new, never been used before, then skip the bleaching.

 

BATCH 64_MOONSHINE

I’m using ‘Moonshine’ planting soil. I talked about it here. Great stuff.

 

transplanting seedlings_moisten soil

Be sure to pre-moisten the planting soil. Here I’m using a shallow ‘Tub Trug’. I love those tubs—so handy-from this to harvesting crops later and they come in fun colors.

 

transplanting seedlings_make holes

Make some holes with your finger big enough to accommodate the root ball. You’ll be surprised how big the little rootballs are.

 

transplanting seedlings_using knife

I take a small knife (this one plastic) and gently pry up the seedling out of the tray and carefully put it into a hole I made in the soil.

 

transplanting seedlings_transfering to 4 pack

Pick up seedlings by the leaves NOT the stem. The stems can get easily damaged so always handle them from the leaves. Notice the roots! I usually like to put the stems a little deeper in the hole so they stand upright.

 

transplanting seedlings_tamp soil

Gently pack the soil around them so they are sitting up nicely and not leaning.

 

transplanting seedlings_use seaweed

Water them with a diluted solution of  seaweed fertilizer and Superthrive to help with any transplant shock. Do NOT give them any fish fertilizer as that may give them too much nitrogen when first transplanting and send them into shock. Wait a couple of weeks before giving them any fertilizer with nitrogen. The seaweed and thrive help reduce any transplant shock.

transplanting seedlings_flat of transplants

Here is one of the first flats transplanted. Ain’t they pretty?! Now they are ready to take off and really grow! The next replanting will be into the greenhouse raised beds when they are bigger!

Seeds already germinating!

seed startingseegermination 02-16

I planted some lettuce and greens seeds on Feb 8 and by Feb 11 some are already germinating! That’s only 3 days. Wow. Unbelievable! Here’s the lineup again and how they’re doing so far:

#1 Yugoslavia Red lettuce just peaking up

#2 Santoro barely peaking up

#3 Slow-Bolt Cilantro not up

#4 Carmel spinach just starting to come up

#5 Baby Pak Choi way up

#6 Forellenschuss lettuce way up

Not surprising, the two larger seeds #3, the Slow-Bolt Cilantro and the #4 Carmel Spinach are slower to germinate. I imagine the bigger the seed, the longer it takes to germinate. But to my surprise, the spinach is starting to come up already and the little seeds like lettuce just exploded through the soil. Amazing. I’m totally surprised how fast some of them have germinated.

Now I just got to make sure to mist them heavily 2x-3x a day to keep the soil moist while they all germinate. I will spray diluted Chamomile tea on the baby seedlings tomorrow to keep Damping Off disease from coming. It works great.

How to Start Greens/lettuce seeds inside

seed germination tray

Here’s what  last year’s lettuce looked like when germinated and ready to be transplanted into bigger pots

Greens/lettuce seeds started inside February 8

Yesterday I planted some lettuce and greens seeds. Here’s how I do it:

seed germination tray

I cut this tray into thirds

I bought these flats above for starting seeds indoors and under lights. I cut them into thirds as I like I them a little smaller as they are easier to handle and not so flimsy.

I like shallow containers to start SMALL seeds as it is easier to get the correct soil temperature needed for germination and I can plant a lot of seeds in a small space. Bigger pots for small seeds are harder to get the soil temperature correct. Optimal seed germination temperature for greens and lettuces it is 65-70 °F and it should take between 7-10 days to germinate.

seed starting tray_dots

I mark each row every inch and plant a seed there

Before I put in the seeds, I marked each row with a dot (I used a silver sharpie) one inch apart so I could evenly space the seeds and that way I can also see if a seed germinated by that dot. I use Metro Mix 360 soil for starting seeds. I pre-moisten the soil.

seed starting tray_seeds

Put kiddie (play) sand on top after putting seeds in rows.

I used a pencil to make a small hole in the Metro Mix and put a seed in it. Afterwards I put ‘kiddie’ play sand over each row to cover the seeds and pat it down. Small seeds can easily break through the sand when germinating. I would use bigger pots for larger seeds. You must keep the soil moist at all times till they germinate. Because the trays are so shallow, I only have to mist the pre-moisten soil with a sprayer, sometimes several times a day. You could put a clear top on it till germination happens. I never put the trays under a faucet to water as that could move the seeds around.

thermostat probeseed starting tray with thermostat

Here I have them sitting on a heat mat but I don’t turn the mat ‘on’.  For greens/lettuces I put the probe in the soil to see what temperature it is at with the thermostat. I find for greens/lettuces the lights above the seed trays provide all the heat needed to stay in that temperature range.  Here the thermostat reads 66°F. I’ll turn seedling heat mats on later for warm season crops like tomatoes which like the soil temperature much warmer for germination. The thermostat is great for controlling the temperature.

seed starting tray with journal entry.jpg

Write down what variety each row is in a notebook

I identify each row with a number and then keep a record of what each number represents instead of trying to write down what it is on that little piece of tape. There are 12 dots so that means since there are 6 rows in each ‘mini-flat’ that there are 72 seeds in this tiny space! After they germinate and their first two true (cotyledon) leaves appear, I will transplant them each plant into a 4 pack and from there directly into a cold frame, low tunnel or greenhouse. Still too early to  throw them outside without protection.

Here is what I planted:
1-Yugoslavian Red lettuce-butterhead type
2-Santoro lettuce-butterhead type
3-Slow-Bolt Cilantro
4-Carmel Spinach
5-Baby Pak Choi
6-Forellenschuss (trout) lettuce-romaine

Older Seeds-how to test for viability

seeds

If you have gone through your seeds and find packets that are over 3 years old, you may want to test them for viability. Are they still good enough to plant again? Many seeds are good for 2-3 years and some much longer if they didn’t get wet or damaged. I grew the state record for giant green squash (345 lbs) from a seed that was 8 years old. I was amazed. Read about the giant green squashes here; https://giantveggiegardener.com/2011/10/04/greenies-battle-it-out-for-who-will-go-to-the-weigh-off. So sometimes older seeds are fine too. Here are some things you can do with older seeds.

  1. First,  if they are over 3 years old I may toss them in the ground later in spring (especially flower seeds) to see if they germinate or
  2. I may test the seed packet (look at the date on the package) to see if they are still viable. Three years or older? Test them. To test them, take 10 seeds and soak them in water for a few hours to overnight and then put them in a damp paper towel and put them in a Ziploc bag and on a shady, warm windowsill or on top of your refrigerator (not a sunny place, you don’t wanna fry the seeds). Then in a few days check them to see how many have germinated.
  3. I use this chart  “Germination tables from Heirloom Seeds – Know when to plant all your vegetables.” to see how long it should take to germinate a particular seed under ideal conditions.  If none have germinated, keep checking them. After a few days, you’ll see some of them have germinated. So if 8 out of the 10 germinated, you have a 80% germination rate. If 5 out of the 1o seeds germinated, then you have a 50% germination rate, if only 2 have germinated than you have a 20% germination rate and so on.  I would probably toss those. This chart is also great to have when we are actually ready to start seeds inside under lights or directly outside (later) to see what is the optimum soil temperature is for each seed and how long it will take to germinate. I will post later on that when starting seeds inside or outside. This is just to test for seed viability right now.

How to Save Tomato Seeds

Some of you may still have the last of your tomatoes inside your house ripening. If you would like to save the seeds or if you don’t have any seeds but would like to learn how to save them for next year then read on. It’s a simple procedure where we must remove the gel from around the seeds before drying them.

But before that, the first thing to consider is if the tomato is a hybrid or an open pollinated (OP) or an heirloom tomato. Don’t save hybrid tomato seeds as they won’t grow out true meaning they will not grow out to be the same tomato. They revert to one parent or the other and are unstable so you won’t know what you’ll get. If you have open pollinated (OP) or heirloom tomatoes you can save the seeds as both will grow out into the same tomato. An exception to this might be if you plant cherry tomatoes close to the tomatoes whose seed you want to save. Cherry tomatoes could cross-pollinate with other tomatoes but most heirloom tomatoes do not cross with each other. Just grow your cherry tomatoes away from  your other ones.

Put tomato seeds in a small jar of water (viewed from the top)

Put tomato seeds in a small jar of water (viewed from the top)

First you want to save a tomato that is really ripe and soft. To save the seeds from tomatoes we must remove the gel from around the seeds. Cut the tomatoes open and squeeze the tomato with the gel and seeds into a jar and add about 2-3 inches of water. Cover the jar.

white mold grows on top of the water

white mold grows on top of the water

In a few days you will notice that there is a white mold growing on top of the water and most of the seeds will have sunk to the bottom of the jar. Don’t freak out, this white stuff is fermentation working on your seeds.

drain the tomatoes and stuff off

drain the tomatoes

After about 4 days, strain the tomato seeds in a fine sieve or strainer and wash the yuck and tomato stuff off of the seeds. If you wait too long the seeds will start to germinate which will ruin them.

Put your seeds on wax or parchment paper. Write down the variety.

Put your seeds on wax or parchment paper. Write down the variety.

The seeds can now be put on wax paper to dry. If you use paper towels, the seeds may stick to the paper causing trouble removing them. Be sure to label them so you remember which variety they are. After they are thoroughly dry, store them in a plastic bag or jar for next year. It’s fun to save seeds and see what happens next year.

2015 Santa Fe Seed Exchange

hg-seed-exchange

Santa Fe Seed Exchange-TODAY!
Tuesday, March 10, 2015

If you are looking for seeds and ideas for your vegetable garden, come to the Santa Fe Seed Exchange on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 from 4 pm-7 pm in Frenchy’s Barn on Agua Fria and Osage Ave. The City Parks Division and Home Grown New Mexico are hosting this event for all community gardens, school gardens and home gardeners. Agua Fria Nursery donated over $750 of seeds so there are plenty of seeds available. Come even if you do not have any to share. Bring flower, herb, vegetable and other seeds if you do.

The Santa Fe Master Gardeners will be at the event with an “Ask a Master Gardener” table for gardening questions and will have seed starting handouts to give away.

SB_BusinessCard_Back_photoThe SeedBroadcast organization will have their seedbroadcasting station to answer questions about saving seeds and seed story recording equipment.  Tell your story about the seed, where you got it, how you planted it and more.  See their website for stories across America.

Poki from Gaia Gardens and The Tomato Lady will be there with seeds also.

If you have questions, please contact: homegrownnewmexico1@gmail.com  or leave a message at 505-983-9706 and we will return your call.

Seed Starting For Early Spring Crops-Class handouts

The Seed Starting For Early Spring Crops class that I taught today was sponsored by one of the organizations I’m a member of called Home Grown New Mexico. Home Grown New Mexico puts on many classes about growing, raising, making and preserving your food throughout the year. They are about sustainability, urban farming and growing organically which is right up my alley and the classes are open to the public. If you’d like to see what other classes/workshop Home Grown New Mexico is putting on, check out their website homegrownnewmexico.org.

Now, here are the handouts if you weren’t able to make the class or if you didn’t get them as we ran out of them during the class today-it was definitely a full house with about 35 people attending. It was a good mix of Master Gardeners, Interns and the public that attended. I really like to teach when you all show up! Hope you learned something and enjoyed it!

Starting Cold Hardy Plants in Early Spring Inside-2014

seed germination chart

PRESPOUTING SEEDS

Cold hardy crops for early spring in March-April

COOL-WARM SEASON CROPS