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Forum: Article: Seed Starting 101: Sowing & Transplanting Tips for Strong SeedlingsReplies: 25, Views: 84
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MistyPetals
North Augusta, SC

March 13, 2008
12:10 PM

Post #4657835

I especially appreciated the tips about getting the nurse leaves under the soil and pulling clumps instead of individual seedlings.

pixie62560

pixie62560
South China, ME
(Zone 5a)

March 13, 2008
1:48 PM

Post #4658126

Me too, can't tell you how many little seedlings i've lost. Thanks for the great tips and instructions!
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

March 13, 2008
3:31 PM

Post #4658545

I know I lost a lot of those delicate little lobelia seedlings when I was potting them up recently... but I sowed seeds heavily and was using pretty thick little clumps, so I know several in each clump will make it despite my handling! That's part of the beauty of this method, I think. (To give you an idea of how thickly I sowed... I had two 6 inch rows of seedlings and filled a 48 cell flat... I'm sure I had about a dozen seedlings in each clump, at least!)

I hope you have good luck using these methods! There are lots of different ways to start seeds, but this is what seems to work well for me. :-)
Seandor
Springfield, MA
(Zone 6a)

March 13, 2008
4:01 PM

Post #4658648

Thanks, critter! This is just the info I need for my 500 plus lobelia! I am very happy - 'cause now I know how to take care of them properly :-) And having lots of lobelia is a good thing, right?
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

March 13, 2008
4:04 PM

Post #4658661

Yes! I love having a whole flat of lobelia and another whole flat of alyssum... I get so cheap if I have to pay for them, and I end up buying 2 six-packs when I really want 4... what a great thing to have as many as you could want to tuck here and there in your containers and along your flower borders!

Last year, I put some lobelia in a container that gets shade most of the day, and it kept blooming all summer! Usually, it "melts down" part way through... which is all right as it's often overgrown by other plants in the container by then anyway.

Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

March 13, 2008
5:12 PM

Post #4658933

Is this just for certain types of seedlings? If so, what types of seedlings work best with this method? These are the seedlings I started for this spring. Please tell me which would have worked better with this method, than the agonizing one-by-one thing I did...

Marigolds
Zinnias
Sunflowers
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

March 13, 2008
5:30 PM

Post #4658997

Anything that naturally grows with a clumping or branching habit will make a nice, full plant sooner with this method. I've used it with Marigolds and been pleased, but I think sunflowers would do better as singles since they make such big stalks. Zinnias -- I guess it depends on the effect you're looking for, whether you want to end up with single plants or clumps, especially if you've got a mix of colors.
grampapa
Wheatfield, NY
(Zone 6a)

March 15, 2008
2:40 AM

Post #4665744

Jill, great stuff! I tend to 'oversow' (big surprise lol). What do you think about snapdragons?
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

March 15, 2008
3:31 PM

Post #4667064

I think I haven't had much luck with snapdragons! LOL I don't see any reason not to clump transplant them, though. Just think about the "look" that a mature plant would have if it were a cluster of several plants rather than being a single stem or crown... works for many plants, but might look a little odd for others.

Speaking of crowns, for any seedling that had a distinct crown (leaves radiating out from a point), I wouldn't set it so deeply that the crown is covered by the potting mix -- you want a crown to stay above the soil. Alpine strawberries, for example, I clump transplant but can't really set much deeper than they were growing in their seed starting tray, because I'd cover the crown. You need to have a bit of stem as well as leaves sticking up above the surface of the mix. I hope that makes sense without a photo!
Candyce
The Monadnock Region, NH
(Zone 5a)

March 16, 2008
5:15 PM

Post #4670769

What a great topic!
Thanks for sharing all of your knowledge with us.
Peckhaus
Long Island, NY
(Zone 7a)

March 17, 2008
1:46 PM

Post #4674055

Critter,
Thanks for another great article! Have you ever tried it with lettuce?

Thanks for all your gracious contributions to DG!
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

March 17, 2008
1:53 PM

Post #4674076

You're welcome, Peck!

I haven't tried it with lettuce, but I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work. For some reason, I tend to sow tiny pinches of lettuce seed directly into plug trays, and plant the plugs out in the garden. (Between slugs, bunnies, and occasional use of Preen on some beds, I don't generally have much luck direct sowing lettuce or chard, although I have managed to direct sow beets.)

I had an edging of burgundy leaf lettuce along my front landscape bed one year and got a lot of compliments on it. Most people had no idea it was lettuce... :-)
Peckhaus
Long Island, NY
(Zone 7a)

March 17, 2008
2:58 PM

Post #4674342

Thanks! That's a great idea with the burgandy lettuce. Might copy you on that one. Did you begin those seeds indoors as well? I was able to direct sow chard last year, but somebody munched my snap peas to the ground :( This is only my 2nd summer growing veggies, so it's all pretty new. Some of my peppers are emerging! Do you happen to know roughly how long pepper seeds are viable? I noticed those emerging first are the fresher seeds, but it may also be due to the fact that they are different varities than my older seeds...
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

March 17, 2008
3:01 PM

Post #4674348

Like tomato seeds, I think pepper seeds are generally good for about 5 years if they're stored at controlled room temp (eg, not in a hot attic)... after that, their germination percentage seems to drop quite a bit. As you noted, it might take a little longer for older seeds to sprout (soaking helps), and germination percentage might be a little lower with older seeds.
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

March 17, 2008
3:02 PM

Post #4674349

Oh, and yes I did start the lettuce seeds inside that year... but I've also started plug trays on the back deck for things like that.
Peckhaus
Long Island, NY
(Zone 7a)

March 17, 2008
4:05 PM

Post #4674573

Thanks, Critter!
Fitsy
Hayesville, NC
(Zone 7a)

March 21, 2008
11:24 PM

Post #4692557

Oooops! I didn't know about water drops and
too much moisture! I took the plastic cover off
quick! I see that cupid's dart and carnations and
mace have forgiven me, and are struggling to
sprout anyway.

Thanks for the info! Ain't this fun!
Fitsy
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

March 22, 2008
1:54 AM

Post #4693177

Oh, seeds will generally germinate just fine even if your soil is a little wet... but it invites trouble in the form of damping off.

When you're moistening potting mix, scoop up a handful of it... if you can squeeze it into a ball, it's moist enough. If the ball doesn't fall apart easily when you open your hand, the mix is a little wetter than it needs to be. I think I got that tip from Tom DeBaggio, too!
Fitsy
Hayesville, NC
(Zone 7a)

March 22, 2008
11:52 PM

Post #4696553

Thanks! and its misty plastic and planting mix
ball for me from now on!
Fitsy

1

critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

March 23, 2008
3:55 AM

Post #4697507

As I've said, I think everybody ends up working out a slightly different system that works for them... so if you've got something that works for you, there's probably no need to mess with it... but it can be useful to know exactly what works for somebody else, and that's why my directions were so precise. You may find that something a little different works for you, but this is what works for me.

I sure hope it works well for you, too!

:-)
MistyPetals
North Augusta, SC

March 29, 2008
8:50 PM

Post #4727133

I'm going to be honest and tell you I reread this again today and will probably refer to it several times to glean more from it as I move forward with my seedlings.
This here is a Hall of Famer for beginners.
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

March 29, 2008
10:01 PM

Post #4727324

I'm glad it's working for you! :-)
evelyn_inthegarden
Sierra Foothills, CA
(Zone 8a)

April 20, 2010
12:35 PM

Post #7721433

Oh, Jill!

I just read this, and it is my first time sowing lobelia inside, and what a great idea. Also, I have sowed outside in containers alyssum and I will be transplanting them like that as well. I see that the basil I have already transplanted singly into cell packs will just take up more room on my already crowded shelves. The next batch will definitely be in clumps, as DH wants a whole 4'X4' bed of basil for pesto, and who am I to argue with the chef?

Thanks for this nice article...it is never too late to learn something new.


Evelyn
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

April 20, 2010
3:56 PM

Post #7722034

My big italian basil plants get spaced maybe 8 inches apart... so 4x4 feet is "only" 36 plants. :-)

I usually save a foot or two of space along the front of the veggie garden for things like basil or beets or bush beans. I have a narrow but long bed, so I can put one kind of basil on one end and another kind up at the other end without worrying about keeping them from cross-pollinating (for seed collecting).

Remember to pinch early and often.. with a little pinching, those single seedlings will fill out soon enough also! It's almost time to pinch my basil seedlings... I am anticipating a really wonderful salad, and maybe the next night a Thai stir fry!
evelyn_inthegarden
Sierra Foothills, CA
(Zone 8a)

April 20, 2010
4:50 PM

Post #7722144

Thanks again! I plan to give him his 4' square garden, but I will put them among my tomato plants as usual, and put some of the dark-leaved varieties in my "Dark Side Garden" along for accents. So when I do his bed, I will put the big ones in the middle and then the medium and then the smallest on the edges...but thanks for the reminder. I printed out the different sizes given by another DG'er. I want to make it look pretty as well as functional, as do we all...LOL!

Evelyn ☺
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

April 20, 2010
4:57 PM

Post #7722157

I tuck basils in all over the place... they're one of my top picks for pretty/functional!

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Other Article: Seed Starting 101: Sowing & Transplanting Tips for Strong Seedlings Threads you might be interested in:

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