Tool for the Tiniest: Great idea

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Tool for the Tiniest

By chelle
April 3, 2014

Need to move a single piece of sowing medium with the tiniest seedling attached to it?

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Name: Marilyn
Greenwood Village, CO (Zone 5b)
Garden today. Clean next week.
Garden Procrastinator Region: Colorado Heucheras Region: Southwest Gardening Container Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Sempervivums Annuals Foliage Fan Herbs Garden Ideas: Level 2
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CDsSister
Apr 2, 2014 6:19 PM CST

Great idea for transferring tiny plants of any kind I think. @Fixpix this might be a good way to begin your
big task of re potting the semps.

Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
Greenhouse Region: Georgia Garden Sages Organic Gardener Beekeeper Vegetable Grower
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abhege
Apr 2, 2014 7:55 PM CST
Holy cow! I thought I was the only one transplanting at that size! I'm going to try that trick with my Lisianthus! Thanks, Chelle!
Name: Pegi Putnam
Norwalk, Ca. zone 10b
Charter ATP Member Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: California Region: United States of America Plumerias
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Samigal
Apr 2, 2014 8:30 PM CST
Ah, we can always find someone who has great ideas for tiny plants. Thanks for posting it. Thank You!
Name: Calin
Weston-super-mare UK (Zone 7b)
Bulbs Lilies Plant and/or Seed Trader
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fixpix
Apr 2, 2014 11:50 PM CST
Hehe, Marylin... I wish I had a small cube of soil for each seedling.
But it is a good tool.
nodding
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Dog Lover Cottage Gardener
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chelle
Apr 3, 2014 6:07 AM CST
This was another opportunistic discovery; I had one set of fingers draped with gooey germination paper and recalcitrant seeds, and just grabbed a nearby pick to try to get them off. Hilarious!
It worked well for that and it was easy to handle, so then it seemed like a good idea to try it with other tiny projects as well.

Arlene, yes, I prefer to get these little ones separated early, too! Big Grin It's so much less tedious than trying to separate roots, and it seems that transplant shock is also reduced.

Thanks to all for the thumbs and acorns!
Cottage Gardening

Newest Interest: Rock Gardens


Name: Debra
Garland, TX (NE Dallas suburb) (Zone 8a)
Service dogs: Angels with paws.
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lovemyhouse
Apr 3, 2014 7:21 AM CST
Wonderfully clever idea, Chelle!
If you don't ask, the answer is always 'no.'
Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Apr 3, 2014 9:15 AM CST
Very clever idea indeed! Thumbs up Thumbs up Thumbs up
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: Tina
Where the desert meets the sea (Zone 9b)
Daylilies Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Dog Lover Birds Enjoys or suffers hot summers
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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chalyse
Apr 3, 2014 4:48 PM CST
Awesome! I was having a hard time using a chopstick made out of a tapered stick ... too big to go in without disturbing the soil a lot. This will work great ... surgical precision! Thanks for the great idea. Group hug
Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of old; seek what those of old sought. — Basho

Daylilies that thrive? click here! Thumbs up
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Dog Lover Cottage Gardener
Native Plants and Wildflowers Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Keeps Horses Hummingbirder Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
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chelle
Apr 3, 2014 5:12 PM CST
chalyse said:Awesome! I was having a hard time using a chopstick made out of a tapered stick ... too big to go in without disturbing the soil a lot. This will work great ... surgical precision! Thanks for the great idea. Group hug


I tip my hat to you.

Let us know how it works for you, Tina.

Cottage Gardening

Newest Interest: Rock Gardens



Charter ATP Member
hazelnut
Apr 3, 2014 6:38 PM CST
and it wont rust like dental picks do.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
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valleylynn
Apr 5, 2014 8:58 AM CST
Chelle, this is a wonderful idea. I will try it on my sempervivum seedlings. They are really a solid mass of tiny green at this point.
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Dog Lover Cottage Gardener
Native Plants and Wildflowers Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Keeps Horses Hummingbirder Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
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chelle
Apr 5, 2014 9:11 AM CST
valleylynn said:Chelle, this is a wonderful idea. I will try it on my sempervivum seedlings. They are really a solid mass of tiny green at this point.


Big Grin

I wish I'd thought to try it last year with those tiny sedum sprouts, too. The smallest knife I had was still too big and awkward.
Cottage Gardening

Newest Interest: Rock Gardens


Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Apr 5, 2014 9:13 AM CST
I can't wait to give this a try.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jun 17, 2014 7:28 PM CST
Hi @chelle!

I haven't tried "pricking out" anything that small. I'm glad you said that the seedling lies across the flat part of the toothpick. That tells me that you have steady hands!

For the last several years, I've pandered to my squeamishness about seeing "naked roots" and planted just 1-2 seeds each in small cells. Then I kill one instead of trying to untangle roots.

But back when I did start seeds in tiny "flats" and had to untangle roots, I used a cocktail fork or shrimp fork to pick up seedlings. But my hands shake, and the seedlings kept falling off.

So I cut and bent a cheap, flimsy dinner fork with four long prongs into a three-pronged, triangular fork. The single bottom prong supports the root and seedling. The two upper prongs keep the seedling from falling off no matter how clumsy you are.

I cut one of the four prongs out of the center of the fork, by bending it all the way down and then using a hacksaw.

Then I bent the two outer prongs up a little, and the remaining middle prong down a little. Then I jammed some hard wood between the outer and the inner prongs, and bent all the prongs back to parallel. (There's a small "jog" remaining, due to the wood.) Then I removed the wood.

Now the fork that used to have four prongs in a straight line, has three prongs in a triangle.

I used it to pluck out seedlings by positioning the three prongs AROUND the seedling. Because the prongs form a triangle they're equidistant from the stem, and can usually straddle the root system without stabbing it.

When I dig UP with the fork, the single lower prong lifts the seedling out with or without soil.
The two upper prongs cradle the seedling and keep it from falling off.

Sorry, no photo!


Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Dog Lover Cottage Gardener
Native Plants and Wildflowers Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Keeps Horses Hummingbirder Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
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chelle
Jun 17, 2014 8:06 PM CST
Interesting tool, Rick.

Me, I'd be clumsy using something that large, but then again, I usually work with seedlings when they're super small.

Here's the wee plant that was on the floss pick in the photo...now starting to bloom. Smiling

Thumb of 2014-06-18/chelle/dfbbdd

Cottage Gardening

Newest Interest: Rock Gardens


Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jun 18, 2014 2:49 PM CST
>> I usually work with seedlings when they're super small.

That inspires me to try that some day, but I think I'll be like a Great Dane trying the thread a needle.

At least it would avoid that feeling that I'm tearing my children in half when I try to untangle long seedling roots!
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Dog Lover Cottage Gardener
Native Plants and Wildflowers Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Keeps Horses Hummingbirder Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
Image
chelle
Jun 18, 2014 3:30 PM CST
That's why I try to do them when they're so small; the roots don't get a chance to tangle. Have you tried the straight vermiculite yet? Even if they do get long and tangled they don't hang together in such a light medium. I love it. I still have seedlings holding in their w/s containers, and some of them sprouted in March! Hilarious! That's a heck of a lot of leeway in getting them out and transplanted. It's simply amazing to me that they 'keep" that long!

Now, I'm not entirely sure yet how those long holdovers are going to perform...but it's still exciting to think that the big spring transplanting rush might not have to be so crazy.
Cottage Gardening

Newest Interest: Rock Gardens


Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jun 18, 2014 4:50 PM CST
I haven't tried starting in straight vermiculite yet. I assume you use the coarsest you can find?

I've changed my seed-starting mix several times since the last time I tried either wintersowing or starting multiple seeds in one "flat". Now I use a lot of relatively coarse screened bark. Plus 10% to 30% baled commercial mix like ProMix. The bark fibers and chunks tangle together all by themselves, which is desirable when I pop out a cell that hasn't yet formed a dense root ball. But it would make untangling a "hunk of seedlings" almost impossible.

If I go back and try the "seedling flats" and "pricking out" style again, I'll use a seedling mix that's the opposite of what I'm using now. What did you use before pure vermiculite?

I kept increasing my seedling mix's drainage and aeration to overcome my overwatering compulsion. Maybe using a capillary mat under the trays is all I need now - it sucks out the excess water if I top-water too much, and it lets me bottom-water with more confidence.

http://garden.org/ideas/view/RickCorey/646/Bottom-Watering-S...
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
Greenhouse Region: Georgia Garden Sages Organic Gardener Beekeeper Vegetable Grower
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abhege
Jun 18, 2014 4:57 PM CST
Rick, if you try the straight vermiculite, the coarsest you can find, you won't have to worry about overwatering because you don't water them!!!!!
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jun 18, 2014 5:04 PM CST
>> you won't have to worry about overwatering because you don't water them!!!!!

That's really going "cold turkey" compared to spritzing every day and overwatering frequently.

I assume "no watering" is using Jonna Sudenius' system with no drainage holes and a tight cover with no vent holes? That makes two more "total opposite" practices from what I've ever done. Well, it makes sense that a different system has many differences.


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