The Q&A Archives: Indoor seed starting.

Question: Hello, I have started my vegetable seeds indoors this year and all seems to be going well. It seems my tomatoes may be a little leggy about an 1 inch stem. I know i can repot them deep but can i do that with cabbage as well? Also, when it comes to basil and parsley, how much do i thin them out when still in the peat pellet? Thanks so much!

-Cole M, Apple Valley Minnesota

Answer: Leggy seedlings need more light. Place your source of artificial light only about 2" from the tops of the plants and they will become stout and hardy instead of thin and spindly. You can deeply plant your tomatoes but the cabbages should be replanted at the same soil level as they were growing in the container. More light will help the plants stop reaching up and continuing to grow leggy. Both basil and parsley should be thinned so there is an inch between the little plants. Start out by clipping off the obviously overcrowded plants, saving the most robust specimens. Then thin them to within a quarter of an inch; a week or so later thin them to within a half inch, and by the time they have developed 2 sets of leaves you should thin them to about an inch apart. At this time they can be divided and transplanted into larger pots. Handle the seedlings by the leaves, not the stems - if a leaf is crushed the plant can regrow it but it the stem is crushed, the plant will die. Seedlings don't mind being transplanted as long as you do it quickly so the roots do not dry out. Good luck with your seedlings.

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