Seedlings - Knowledgebase Question

Newark, Oh
Question by celtic56dlk
April 5, 2010
This is my first year starting my garden plants from seed.They are now abt 1-2 inches tall...do I need to thin and transplant them into larger pots...one per pot? Pinch them off to make them bushier not strangly? I'm in Ohio...haven't started to turn garden area yet.


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Answer from NGA
April 5, 2010

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You can thin the plants if they are overcrowded. I find that it is easier to cut the stems with scissors rather than try to dig and separate the seedlings. Separating them is possible, but it can be quite time consuming because the roots can be intertwined and the stems are fragile so handling them can damage them. I just cut off the weakest looking stems, spacing the sturdies seedlings about a finger-width apart. When the seedlings have developed two sets of leaves they can be lifted and repotted. Use a fork to dig down into the potting soil and be sure to handle the seedlings by the leaves, not the stems. The stems can be accidentally crushed when handled. If you crush a leaf, the plant will produce more; if you crush the stem, the plant will die. After your seedlings develop 3 sets of leaves you can pinch the tops out to encourage branching. If your seedlings are straggly it's because they are not getting enough light. I use fluorescent shop lights for my seedlings. Hang them above the seed trays or pots, keeping the bulbs only about 2" above the tops of the plants and move the lights up as the seedlings grow. Keep the lights on 14-16 hours a day and your seedlings will grow thick and hardy instead of thin and leggy. Best wishes with your seedlings.

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