More on seed starting

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The seeds are up, and you've uncovered them. Now, you need to watch them like a nervous mother.

The seeds are up, and you’ve uncovered them. Now, you need to watch them like a nervous mother.

I just posted on seed starting a couple of days ago, but I want to clarify what happens after your seedlings come up. After you uncover them, and they meet the world, it is a precarious time. Once you take off that protective cover, you must check them everyday. Potting soil dries out so quickly, and your seedlings don’t have many roots yet. They don’t even have their first true set of leaves. I already lost a few heirloom tomato seeds of ‘Purple Dragon‘ because I forgot and missed a day. No worries though. I just replanted. Always try to keep a few seeds in the packet just in case.

This soil is getting dry. Time to water.

This soil is a lighter color and getting dry. Time to water.

Keep soil moist, but not overwatered. The photo, below is well-watered. The one above is getting dry.

These seedlings now have their first true set of leaves and are looking good.

These seedlings now have their first true set of leaves and are looking good.

Once seeds get their first true set of leaves and look more like the tomatoes or peppers they’re going to become, you can start watering with a diluted fertilizer. I use my own chicken manure tea, but you can also buy manure tea in handy muslin bags from Haven Brand. One thing about water, if you live where water is heavily chlorinated, you will want to let it stand for a day to burn off the chlorine. You can also buy drinking water in gallon jugs from the store. I live in the country and have well water that isn’t chlorinated.

Cute little seedlings in recycled ice cream containers. I often use recycled containers to start seeds.

Cute little seedlings in recycled ice cream containers.

I often use recycled ice cream and mushroom containers to scatter seeds. Once these are a little bigger, I’ll prick the seedlings apart and plant them in separate four-inch pots to keep growing. It doesn’t take long. One more thing–everyone has failures. Below is one of mine. The Mammoth Spanish peppers didn’t come up. I can either replant, or just let it go.

Mammoth Spanish peppers didn't come up.

Mammoth Spanish peppers didn’t come up.

On second thought, it looks like a tiny seedling is emerging. Maybe it isn’t a failure after all.

About 

I’m a writer, born and raised in Oklahoma, and an obsessive gardener who grows shrubs, perennials and vegetables on my acreage each year. My favorite veggies have to be homegrown hybrid or heirloom tomatoes, Genovese basil and hot and mild peppers. It’s an Italian salsa garden at my house.


6 thoughts on “More on seed starting

  1. About how long does it take to move from the first leaves to the true leaves? My seedlings have been up for about a month but only have tiny true leaves. I’m spritzing them daily with a diluted fish emulsion or manure tea. If it helps, our house is kinda chilly this winter since we keep it at 66.

    • Mia, I think it’s because they are chilly. Try putting a heat mat under them, and I bet they take off quickly. Those heat mats make all the difference.

  2. You said you use well water – do you use it straight (hard water) or do you use it after it has been through the softener?

    I used to use softened water for my houseplants, and I’m wondering if the salt was affecting my houseplants.

    • I use the well water straight from the tap (hard water) because it doesn’t hurt the seedlings. However, a water softener definitely will. We only have a water softener on the hot water in this end of the house because this is the water we use for all of our plants. Does that help?

      • Yes! Thank you, the water we use outside is straight well water, but I was getting the water for the houseplants from the bathroom sink – which is softened water. I will be sure to get the drinking water instead!

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