Starting your own garden plants indoors from seeds is not difficult, but it is not as simple as just putting the seeds in the planting trays and letting them go. In addition to giving some good reasons to start your own plants from seed, I’ve previously written about building a shelf with lights for starting plants and the basics of getting the plants started. Now it’s time to look at the next step – transplanting into pots.
For plants that will grow indoors for several weeks before being transplanted into the garden, it is important to transplant them out of the starting trays and into larger pots to allow the roots plenty of room to grow. If you want to clearly see the reason for this, buy a four-pack of plants from a big box store. The plants will usually be at least a foot tall and will be growing in a cube of potting soil that is about an inch and a half square. When you pull the plant out of its plastic tray, you will see a thick web of white roots covering the outside of the soil. This means that the plants are root bound. The roots would naturally cover a much great expanse of soil than the tray contains. Since they don’t have that soil available, they reach the plastic, turn, and weave themselves together. When these plants are planted in the garden, it will take much longer for these roots to reach out into the surrounding soil, so they are not able to take in enough nutrients and the growth of the plant will be stunted.
Potting the plants up is not difficult, but you do need to treat them gingerly because they are still quite fragile. For potting the plants, I use biodegradible recycled paper pots three inches in diameter. First fill the pot about half full of potting soild. Push up on the bottom of the plastic cube with a finger of one hand and gently pull on the stem of the plant with the other hand to remove the plant and as much of the soil as possible. Place the plant and its soil into the pot and gently hold it in place with one hand while filling potting soil around it with the other hand. Pack the soil gently and water the plant.
The cucumber plants were the first the germinate and they grew quickly, so they were the first to be potted up a couple of weeks ago. Today, we did the zucchini and tomatoes. The tomatoes could have waited another week or so, but since we were already doing the zucs, I went ahead and got them done. The pots take up more space so I had to add another light and use the shelf I had intended to be used for the mushrooms. They will have to find a new home elsewhere. Here’s a look at the whole shelf full of plants.
I couldn’t resist putting in a close up view of these salad greens. They are very lush and getting thicker every day. I just hope we will be able to get them untangled when it’s time to plant.
Here are the cucumbers. Each of them already has several true leaves. They will have to wait about six more weeks before going into the ground. I’m afraid to guess how big they will be by then.
This post is linked to the Homestead Barn Hop. Please click on the picture to check out some of the other linked blogs.
Go ahead and leave a comment. Let us know what you are growing this year. Do you have plants started yet?