We have babies!
Well, vegetable babies. And they are so cute!
Most seeds sprouted a few days after planting. However, I will admit life got crazy (my usual excuse) and I forgot to water them for a day or two….The tomatoes and the basil perked right up, but the oregano and thyme haven’t quite recovered. And since I’m being totally honest here, the peppers never germinated at all. Today I planted fresh pepper seeds and will see if I can get them to sprout.
Transplanting the seedlings
When to transplant
One of my big questions was when to transplant the seedlings. Most sources stated that when the seedlings have their “true leaves” they are ready to move into a bigger pot. What are “true leaves” exactly? When the seedlings first sprout they have a small set of two leaves called “cotyledons” (high school biology, anyone???). Cotyledons are a remnant of the seed and provide the seedling with nutrients until it produces true leaves capable of photosynthesis. The plant will then produce a second set of leaves distinctly different from the cotyledons- see the picture for a reference. Once the seedling has this set of true leaves, it is ready for transplanting.
How to transplant
My next question was how to transplant the seedlings. What kind and how big should the pot be? What type of soil to use? As far as container size, nobody was very specific. I simply used small indoor herb pots. Most sources stated that the pot should have some drainage holes, as well.
I consulted one source that advised using the seedling mix when transplanting to reduce stress on the plants. Instead of looking at several sites or books, (I was in a rush) I blindly followed this site’s advice. However, after I did a little more research, most other resources recommend using potting soil since the plants may not get enough nutrients from the seedling soil. Awesome. I am afraid to disrupt the seedlings too much, but I think they will need the potting soil in order to thrive. My plan is to re-plant them tonight in appropriate soil. Fingers crossed.
All of the sources emphasized being very gentle with the baby plants! They are very sensitive to changes in the environment and disruption of the roots can kill the seedling. I used a dull butter knife to loosen the soil around the seedling and teased it out of the container. Some resources recommend using a biodegradable material as the initial planting container (like a toilet paper roll), so you can transplant the entire entity. I am not sure what goes into making a toilet paper roll (ie chemicals), so I did not go this route, but I could see how convenient it would be.
I filled up the new pot with soil and made a little hole in the center for the new seedling. Once I had carefully removed the baby plant from the seedling container, I placed it in the hole and gently firmed the soil around it. After lightly watering the seedling, I placed it back into the warm office.
Once we are past our frost date, I will then transplant these seedlings to the garden!