Needed: Tiny Tools for Transplanting

Skiatook, OK

I used to have a tiny little tool that I got for free at a garden show once that I used to move little seedlings from germination trays into larger growing trays, but I lost it during my last move. I've tried web searches to try to find a replacement with no luck. Does anyone know of a source for something like this or have a suggestion for something I could use or adapt from home? I do have a little olive fork a grapefruit spoon that I use some, but I need something even smaller than these for trays with 500+ cells in them....those holes & seedlings are very, very tiny. I'm going to try the flat end of a measuring spoon I have, but it's awfully thick and blunt. Something thin and a little bit scooped would work better. In other words, ideally, I would like a tool made for the job.

--Leslie / NE Oklahoma

Florissant, MO

Hi Leslie,

I think what you're referring to is called a "Widger". I've seen them made of plastic and also stainless steel. Try searching the web using Google and you should be able to find them. Seems like it should be easy to make something like that, I'm going to think about it and see what I can come up with :-)

Skiatook, OK

Thank you sow_sow! I ordered one. In the meantime, it also occurred to me that a "snuff spoon" (which I never really understood) would also perhaps work. When I looked for them, I realized that they're now used for cocaine. Duh. :-) In searching for that, however, I learned from the druggies to search for "salt spoons" and that garnered a lot of hits. I ended up finding something on Ebay for $6 that was a salt spoon (sterling silver) shaped like a miniature shovel. :-) I think it will work well for one of my seed trays. Anyway--I now have a couple of tools on their way to my home and between the two of them I think I'll no longer pine after my long-lost tool! I appreciate the help!

--Leslie

Florissant, MO

You're very welcome Leslie, glad you found something!

Durhamville, NY(Zone 5b)

My thought was; does McDonald's still have those little shovel shaped coffee stirrers? They are kind of blunt but I bet a few passes with a piece of sand paper will make them sharper.

Calgary, Canada

Spoons made for feeding infants are useful.
You can buy cheap plastic ones too.

St. Louis County, MO(Zone 5a)

My old fingernail set had a tool for pushing back your cuticle and cleaning under fingernails. It is great for tiny plants, pointy on one end, a small scooper on the other.

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

I have great luck transplanting tiny seedlings with a regular stainless steel dinner fork. Works like a charm for me, especially on the tiny little seedlings. When I transplant, I make a hole in the soil I'm about to plant into by digging in the fork and wiggling it back and forth a little to make space. Then I lift the seedling from its cell or flat with the fork, carry it over to the hole I just made, and voila!...it fits right in. :)

Bordentown, NJ(Zone 7a)

Quote from moyerles :
... these for trays with 500+ cells in them.....

--Leslie / NE Oklahoma


Are you talking about a plug tray? Don't they have holes in the bottom of each cell, so that you push up through the hole with a round stick (I use a broken paintbrush handle) and the entire "plug" of soil comes out?

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I use a dinner fork with one prong cut off, and one bent down. The other two prongs surround a seedling.

Corey

Watertown, WI(Zone 5a)

Aha! I'm not the only one into forks. I even blogged about my fork fetish. :P

http://petiolejunction.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/potting-up-seedlings/

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I've been haunting Goodwill, and found a wood-handled cocktail fork of some kind (maybe a seafood fork) with three prongs longer and wider-spaced than a normal kitchen fork.

I bent the middle prong down just a bit, and now it's perfect for "pricking out" and potting up.

The spacing is even good for bringing too-large bits of pine bark to the surface to be discarded (or used to top-dress pots that are already transplanted-into.

I use it WITH my cut-and-bent kitchen fork, but this is better for fine work.

Corey

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

I use pickle fork/condiment, which is much smaller than regular forks. I never use a spoon whatever the size as they tend to cut tiny roots. Forks don't seem to do that.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

"Condiment forks"! Cool!

I used to hunt for "kitchen supply" places to find tiny but inexpensive metal measuring spoons, until I found great ones on Amazon.com. Now i have another reason to hunt ... thoguh my Goodwill Speial really does meet all my needs.

Do you try to pot up your seedlings while the roots are so tiny that they slip right out of the soil (like one fat thread), or wait until they are root-bound enough to grip the rootball securely and hold it together? I can't decide which is better.

I usually start in a 72-cell-per tray 6-pack, or a 128-cell plug tray. Rarely, a deeper 50-cell plug tray.
I've been meaning to try a 20-row seedling tray I bought, but haven't felt adventurous enough.

When I go from tray or pot into the soil, I aim for "pretty root bound", so I can balance the solid root ball on the blade of my Sharpshooter spade (trenching spade?) and then reach out and sliiide it into a hole or furrow, even in the center of a bed.

With squatting, which my legs pretty much refuse to do.

Corey

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