11 answers to the main questions about seedlings
In regions with a protracted cold spring, a short summer, and the early onset of autumn cooling, the seedling method of growing vegetables is perhaps the only effective one. I live in the south. But even in our conditions, I grow most vegetables through seedlings, because this gives a lot of advantages. Over the years of work at the summer cottage, I have accumulated many observations and developed my own approach to growing vegetable seedlings. In this article I will answer 11 questions about seedlings that are most interested in beginning summer residents.
1. When to start preparing for growing seedlings?
Winter will flash - you will not notice! And with the advent of the spring of worries and work, a great deal appears. Therefore, it is necessary to write down the list of crops and the sequence of preparatory work for sowing seedlings in your garden diary in the winter (in your free time from summer cottages). Such an approach will free part of the time in spring for other, more necessary work.
What you need to consider when filling out your "garden diary"?
Determine the list of crops and the number of seedlings necessary to obtain a crop sufficient for fresh consumption and winter harvesting.
Correctly calculate the right amount of potential yield will help our material How much to plant vegetables for the family?
Record the timing of sowing seeds selected for cultivation through seedlings.
Our article will help determine the timing. The timing of planting vegetable crops for seedlings for different regions.
Decide on dishes and soil for sowing seeds.
Provide, if necessary, the installation of additional lighting and convenient watering.
Decide whether to buy fertilizers for fertilizing, drugs to protect against diseases and pests.
2. What containers to choose for sowing?
For each type of seedling, you need to prepare a separate dish. I sow seeds in prepared wooden trays, plastic planting containers or cassettes, in cups made from sour-milk products. Dishes are disinfected in a 1-2% solution of potassium permanganate.
Take note! More profitable plastic utensils. Perhaps reusable, easily disinfected, does not require annual repairs and other additional work on preparation for sowing seeds.
For large seed crops, and especially stem-root crops (cucumbers, zucchini, watermelons, etc.) I use peat pots of different capacities. For seedlings with a rooted root system, the capacity should be deep enough so that the root does not bend with growth. I planted seedlings grown in them, together with such a pot, in open ground. The pot, soaking in the soil, rots and serves as fertilizer. When planting, the root system is not disturbed.
Seedlings grown in peat pots and cassettes do not require picking, which shortens the period of its cultivation. In addition, the pick-free method eliminates the infection of seedlings with fungal and bacterial infections, which often occurs when they are picked.
An overview of the containers for seedlings read in the material. Choose the right container for growing seedlings.
3. What is the best soil for seedlings?
I would recommend novice gardeners to buy ready-made soil for seedlings, which many companies offer on the market today. As a rule, such soils are completely ready for sowing and growing seedlings. They do not need additional preparation, including disinfection.
Experienced summer residents can also independently prepare the soil mixture. Previously, I always prepared the soil for seedlings myself. Used the following ingredients: leafy or soddy ground, mature humus (preferably vermicompost), sand in the following parts - 1: 2: 1. In this mixture, you can add (if any) 1 part of peat.
I always spent a lot of time preparing the substrate: disinfecting, revitalizing, adding fertilizers, monitoring soil acidity, etc. As my experience shows, it makes sense if there are a lot of seedlings - it is planned to sell seedlings or crops. But for growing seedlings for a small family, definitely, ready-made soil is preferable. This will free up a significant amount of time for other household and household tasks.
If you still decide to prepare the soil yourself, read our article Preparing good soil for seedlings.
4. How to prepare seeds for sowing?
To reduce the time for preparing seeds for sowing, it is more practical to buy ready-made seed material. It is advisable to buy seeds only in specialized stores or from popular breeding firms. High-quality seeds are already disinfected and coated in nutritious mixtures. They do not need additional training.
Self-preparation of seeds for sowing will require time at all stages of the procedures. In order to save time on preparation and at the same time get healthy friendly seedlings and high-quality seedlings, I currently process independently harvested seeds with growth stimulants for seedlings “Energen Aqua”, “Kornerost”.
When seeds are soaked in Energen Aqua, the time of emergence of seedlings is reduced, their germination capacity and the energy of seed germination are significantly increased. The use of the drug is especially effective when delayed with sowing seedlings or when sowing very small seeds (petunias, for example), seeds with a capricious root system (cucumbers).
Do not forget to mark crops immediately after sowing, so as not to guess before the emergence of seedlings, where which one was sown.
5. How to sow correctly?
I fill the prepared containers with the finished substrate, leaving 1-2 cm to the top edge. Lightly (gently) crush the soil to remove voids. If the mixture is dry, water, cover and leave for 1-2 days to ripen.
I sow the seeds in the prepared wet substrate. The depth of their embedment depends on the size. Usually I dig in a layer that exceeds the size of the seed by 1.5-2 times, or spread the seeds on the surface, gently press to the ground and sprinkle with a small layer of the same prepared mixture (you can use agroperlite and similar materials for powdering).
Particularly small seeds (strawberries / strawberries, petunias) are simply left on the surface of the soil and carefully spilled with water through a spray bottle or strainer. Going deeper, the water draws the seeds into the ground, creating comfortable conditions for them. After planting, I put individual cups on trays or in small drawers, cover them with opaque material and leave them in a warm place.
6. How to care for seedlings?
After mass shoots of the container with seedlings I transfer to a lit place. I use wide window sills in the kitchen and specially made prefixes for the window sill.
On days 5-8, if the topsoil has dried up, I spend the first watering at room temperature with warm water through a fine strainer. Before seedlings appear, I carefully monitor the state of the topsoil. It should be constantly wet (but not wet).
After mass seedlings, seedling care is reduced to sufficient lighting, maintaining optimal temperature, soil moisture and the environment, protection from fungal, bacterial, viral diseases and pests.
Read more about leaving in the article How to Grow Healthy Seedlings.
7. Do seedlings need lighting?
So that the seedlings do not stretch, are not weak, etiolated (grown with a lack of light), stretched, I maintain normal lighting with additional lamps for at least 14 hours a day.
Do not be too lazy to prepare in advance lighting without a shadow, then you will not need to spend time systematically deploying containers with seedlings with the shadow side to the lighting.
Read more about how to organize additional illumination of seedlings in the article Correct phytolamp - choose a lighting device for illumination of plants.
8. What temperature is optimal for seedlings?
Before germination, the room temperature should not fall below + 23 ... + 25 ° С. After mass shoots when placed on window sills, I lower the air temperature on average to + 15 ... + 18 ° C.
I place more cold-resistant cultures closer to window panes, and heat-loving cultures - on a side table. It is not necessary to create a steam room in the room with increased humidity and temperature: seedlings will immediately begin to hurt. It is more practical to maintain the temperature slightly below the required (+ 14 ... + 15 ° С), and the soil - wet, but not wet. Then the seedlings are squat, strong, resistant to diseases and pests.
9. How to water seedlings?
Near the seedlings I always keep a bucket of water. This creates the necessary microclimate around the containers with seedlings, and at hand there is always warm water at room temperature, separated from chlorine, and not overheated in a hurry.
Be sure to air the seedlings after watering (but without drafts). Before the development of the first 3–4 leaves, seedlings are watered through a spray gun, adult seedlings - through a tray. This technique contributes to a better development of the root system of adult seedlings. After watering (after 2-4 hours) I loosen the soil and dry the top layer with dry sand, sifted ash, agroperlite.
10. How to protect seedlings from diseases and pests?
The most difficult thing in caring for seedlings is to prevent defeat by diseases and pests. If irrigation, humidity, temperature are incorrect, mold (fungal, bacterial) appears on the soil and plants, which can destroy the entire crop in a few days if it is carried out in common containers. From this point of view, it is better to grow seedlings for one or two plants in separate cups or in cassettes.
In the garden medicine cabinet, I always have in stock biological products to protect against diseases and pests. They are harmless to humans and animals and can be used indoors. But after switching to growing seedlings in cassettes and peat pots, my seedlings are practically not sick. I spray plants and soil more for prevention than for the purpose of destroying the source of diseases.
I spend the first treatment of seedlings with a solution of biofungicides 7-12 days after germination. All treatments are strictly according to the instructions. In the rest of the period of growth and development of seedlings for preventive purposes, I spray 1 time in 15-20 days (that is, 3-4 times for the entire period, in other years - 1-2 times). I combine the spraying of plants and soil with watering through a spray bottle or a fine strainer.
I recommend treating diseases with solutions of the biofungicides Fitosporin-M, Gamair-SP, Alirin-B, Planriz-Zh, Mikosan, etc. I use the Akofit, Nemabakt bioinsecticides from aphids and whiteflies. , "Bicol", "Bitoxibacillin", "Verticillin" and others.
For "haste" - instead of biological products, you can use chemical "Tsikhom", "Quadrice" and other permitted drugs on seedlings. But keep in mind that in the premises where the family lives, the use of toxic chemicals is prohibited.
Read more about protecting seedlings from diseases and pests in the article The main problems in growing seedlings and their solution.
11. How to harden seedlings?
10-12 days before transplanting seedlings to a permanent place, I begin the hardening process. Over the course of 5-7 days at night, I gradually lower the temperature in the room where the seedlings are located (in my kitchen) and then I take them out into the corridor or onto a closed loggia (without heating).
Planted in a permanent place by transferring from cassettes or immediately in peat pots, hardened seedlings always take root completely (100%) and already in the garden well resists changes in environmental conditions, diseases and pests.