How to Grow Plants from Seed: Guide on Seedlings (Part 4)
Finally, we came to the last step of growing sound seedlings. Find some useful tips on watering and disease treatment and finally transplant seedlings into fresh soil following these instructions…
Frequently and a little bit – this is the golden rule of watering seedlings. Your task is to prevent soil from drying out completely. Such crops as petunias and strawberries, which are planted directly onto the soil surface, have to be watered from a dropper or a spray bottle. The rest of the plants, the seeds of which are buried into soil to germinate, are watered from a common watering can. Mature seedlings can be watered from a drip tray – this stimulates growth of roots as they have to develop to reach desired water.
Recently the scientists have discovered that if you regularly stroke young leaves with your hand, they will become stronger and grow faster. The thing is that slight physical effect makes leaves give off ethylene, which acts as a hormone and growth stimulator. In small quantities this gas has a very positive impact on young shoots, making them more powerful and stocky. This gas is commonly known for its ability to speed up fruits ripening.
The things you have to fear most of all are brown rot and blackleg. These two diseases are the most dangerous enemies of seedlings growing indoors.
Brown rot causes lower leaves to yellow, then get brown and fall. On stems it manifests itself in brown stripes. As a rule this disease emerges due to wrong soil composition: too acidic soil or excessive organic fertilization.
Always check your plants for blackleg emergence. Affected by this disease, seed leaves at first turn yellow and then wither. Stems get black close to the soil surface and diminish. At the first sign of blackleg remove the affected plants and stop watering the rest of the seedlings within a few days. Besides, the top layer of soil has to be carefully removed and replaced with a mixture of sand and ash or perlite.
Root rot and blackleg can be prevented by soaking seeds in antifungal agent before planting.
Just as adults prepare kids for their mature life before they leave the nest, your seedlings have to be prepared for going outdoors. It’s not a good idea to transplant them directly from a warm house to open ground. At first they must pass the procedure called hardening off. One or two weeks before transplantation place them in a protected colder place, like the balcony. Start from 2-3 hours per day, gradually increasing their stay in colder conditions up to 5 hours.
Before transplantation a seedling has to be thoroughly watered and transferred along with the soil it grew in when in the pot. This procedure must be done very carefully – try not to hold the stem of the plant and not to hurt its roots. Creating a nice vegetable garden and growing a great harvest is a whole science. But it’s a whole different story…