Of course, today any vegetables, even the most exotic ones, can be purchased without any problems at the nearest store at any time of the year. And yet, no purchased tomato tastes like a ripe tomato just picked from its own garden.!
And what a pleasure it is just to go out to your garden and in just a few minutes return to the house with a full bucket of tomatoes, peppers and herbs – all that without which it is impossible to cook either a hearty borscht or a fragrant stew.
To get the first harvest as early as possible, experts recommend planting not seeds, but already strong shoots in the beds. Vegetable seedlings can also be bought in the specialized market, but experienced gardeners prefer to grow the seedlings on their own. How to grow strong and healthy seedlings at home?
Such lush thickets of seedlings in the future will turn into slender rows of tall plants, decorated with bright red ripe tomatoes.
Preparing the soil
The first question that arises before gardeners who decide to grow seedlings on their own is where to get the soil. The most optimal and economical way is to stock up on land from your own garden in the fall. After all, the seeds are usually planted in late winter or early March, so that the seedlings are ready for the onset of warm days. And poking around in snowdrifts, dragging frozen or wet soil into the house is not very convenient. The soil can be stored in a cool shed or cellar, in bags, plastic bags or boxes, but before planting seeds, you must bring it into a warm room in advance..
Experienced summer residents recommend collecting soil from a deciduous or pine forest in the fall – it contains all the necessary trace elements, in addition, it does not contain harmful impurities, it has not yet been depleted by perennial plantings of cultivated plants. By the way, in the forest, the soil freezes much less, so if you have not prepared yourself in the fall, you can make a trip to get the soil even in early spring.
Before being sent for storage, the soil from your garden or local forest must be sieved, making sure that worms, insects and weed roots do not remain in the ground. It is necessary to add peat to the soil, you can mix it with ash, sawdust and sand – only after that the land for planting seeds will be completely ready.
And, finally, you can purchase bags of ready-made potting soil for seedlings at the store – the easiest but expensive option..
The local market is a good way to get ready-to-plant vegetable seedlings. But the quality of seedlings and the desired variety can not always be determined “by eye”. And it will cost to buy sprouts, especially if you need at least a hundred tomatoes and the same number of peppers, not cheap
Choosing a container
Earlier, before a huge selection of containers for seedlings appeared in stores, our grandfathers planted seeds in flat wooden boxes made with their own hands. They did not differ in beauty and sophistication, but they perfectly performed their main function. Today the following types of containers for growing seedlings are presented on the market:
- Many gardeners still prefer to use industrial-made wooden boxes. The tree allows just as much air as the plants need and retains moisture perfectly. However, wooden boxes weigh a lot, and even more so with wet soil. In addition, professionals recommend treating such boxes with copper-containing fungicidal preparations after each planting of plants on the beds, since pathogenic flora remains on the wood..
- Plastic boxes for seedlings are very easy to wash, weigh much less, pathogenic flora practically does not develop on them. You should only choose boxes of optimal depth – five to eight centimeters.
- Peat pots are environmentally friendly containers that are very convenient to use. Seedlings can be planted in the beds simply in such pots, so that all the roots will remain intact. The peat walls perfectly let the air through, but in no case should the soil be allowed to dry out – it is worth skipping one watering, as the too dry earth will lag behind the walls and the plant will simply disappear. Another disadvantage of peat pots is that they can only be used once, so every spring you will have to buy a new batch..
- Peat tablets – a piece of compressed peat of a round, square or rectangular shape. Seeds can be planted simply in the ground, so no container is needed. Before use, the peat tablet is filled with water and takes the shape of a pot. The disadvantage of this option is the need to carefully monitor the watering time, since the peat dries quickly. In addition, peat tablets are usually small, so they are not suitable for growing large seedlings, such as tomatoes..
- Plastic pots. They can be of any shape and size, which will allow you to choose a container for any type of seedlings. Modern polymers do not allow moisture to pass through, so you have to take care of the presence of a hole to drain excess water at the bottom. It is convenient that such a container can be used several times..
- Seedling cassettes are small plastic cells fastened together. Such structures are convenient to transfer, but it will be more difficult to plant plants in the beds than in the case of using separate pots. In addition, the thin walls of such cassettes break easily, so they will last a maximum of two seasons..
- Non-core packaging. The most economical option. Every gardener knows that under no circumstances should one throw away plastic or cardboard boxes of yoghurt, cream, milk, fermented baked milk or sour cream. It is enough to rinse the container with water, dry it – and an excellent container for seedlings is ready. Cheap and convenient. Some gardeners plant seeds in egg cells, however, they are too small for large sprouts. Remember that cardboard cells or boxes can get wet during intensive watering, therefore, under such a container, you should also put a tray for draining water.
Seedlings of tomatoes in special peat pots, which, after planting, will simply dissolve in the ground
Seedlings of vegetables in plastic flower pots
Overgrown pepper seedlings in an inexpensive transparent plastic cup. Remember – light has a bad effect on the roots of the plant, therefore it is better to avoid such containers. Or make sure that the ground reliably covers the roots
Freshly hatched pepper seedlings in a convenient special box – the so-called plant cassette, which is made of bonded cells, in this case made of peat. There are similar cassettes and plastic
Modern peat pots for cultivation of shoots. You will have to purchase such a container every spring, and such pots cost from two to ten rubles, so they are not popular among gardeners
So, we have chosen the container, prepared the soil, it’s time to start planting seeds purchased or harvested by ourselves. We talked about how to prepare seeds for planting in the previous article, so we will not repeat ourselves.
The optimal time for sowing seeds for different regions can vary from February to April and depends on many factors, such as the time of planting the finished seedlings in the beds, as well as the quality of the seeds, the composition of the soil, the degree of lighting in the room, and so on. Experienced gardeners, after years of experimentation, know exactly when to plant pepper seedlings and when to plant eggplants..
The rest are advised to plant several batches at intervals of at least a week and experimentally determine in which batch the seedlings will be the strongest and give the largest yield. You won’t have to experiment next year – the optimal planting time will be determined.
You can sow seeds of three types:
Dry planting is much easier, but it will take a long time to wait for the first shoots. Wet seeds are more difficult to plant, but they will germinate quickly, just like germinated seeds. If you have nowhere to rush and there is still a lot of time before planting on the beds, you can plant ordinary dry seeds. If you want to get a harvest as soon as possible or the planting time is already approaching, it is worth germinating the seeds before planting.
Some experts advise to plant one seed at a time, others – to plant seedlings densely, in “heaps”, at least three plants, and then thin out, leaving the strongest shoots. How exactly to proceed is up to you, only experience can tell you the best option. In general, seeds can be planted densely in plastic or wooden boxes, especially if you plan to plant the plants in the ground quickly enough or dive sprouts a month after planting, that is, transplant each seedling into a separate container. This way you can grow more seedlings, increase competition between shoots and, as a result, choose the strongest and healthiest plants..
Already grown tomato seedlings in a plastic container
After planting the seeds to a depth of about two centimeters, the soil must be carefully and carefully watered from a shallow watering can, so as not to erode the soil and not wash the newly planted seeds. Now the container needs to be placed in a warm and sufficiently well-lit place – a regular window sill is perfect. If the seedlings remain in some kind of darkened room, you will have to worry about additional lighting, for example, installing fluorescent lamps.
Taking care of the sprouts
Usually, the first shoots hatch on the fifth day after planting. Watering such tender sprouts should be very careful, trying not to get under the root and on tiny leaves. You need to pour water along the edge of the pot or between the rows of seedlings. Before watering, water must be defended for at least a day, it must be at room temperature. Watering is done at least once a week, if necessary – more often.
The soil in pots or boxes must be periodically loosened, and the seedlings themselves must be spud. It is likely that as the plants grow, it will be necessary to fill up the soil, so it is better to prepare the soil supply in advance.
You can fertilize seedlings by purchasing special ready-made fertilizers in a flower shop or by preparing a solution yourself. So, for 10 liters of water, 35 grams of superphosphate, 12 grams of potassium sulfate and 4 grams of urea are needed – fertilizer for tomatoes and cucumbers is ready. In general, it is not necessary to fertilize the seedlings more than twice, if the soil is properly prepared, then the plant has enough of all the necessary trace elements. Usually fertilizers are applied for the first time immediately after the appearance of two full-fledged leaves on the sprout, and the second time before planting in the ground to prepare the plant for a new stage of development..
If the room is too dark, then the plants are thin, weak. In this case, it is better to move them closer to the window or illuminate them with a lamp..
Do you have a glazed loggia or balcony? Seedlings can be taken out here, bringing them into the room only in case of spring frosts. If the room gets too hot, you need to provide ventilation..
If the seeds are sown densely, after three to four weeks, the sprouts will have to be thinned or dived to provide them with room to grow..
In general, tomato seedlings are grown no more than two months, cucumbers – about 25 days, early cabbage – about 40 days. Before planting on the beds, the seedlings must be gradually “accustomed” to the outdoor temperature by moving the pots and boxes to the yard, first for a short time, and then for the whole day. After such hardening, the plants can be transplanted.
Seedlings of cucumbers, already ready for planting in the soil
Growing seedlings allows you to minimize all the risks associated with unfavorable climatic conditions, to obtain crops of heat-loving crops even in the northern regions. Planting ready-made, mature plants that are about to begin to bloom on the site will speed up the first harvest by at least a month.