If you have started vegetable seeds inside this year you’ll be amazed at how quickly they grown. In no time at all you’ll be transplanting your vegetable seedlings. Wait until the seedlings have grown two or more true leaves (the cotyledons don’t count). This can be anywhere from 2-6 weeks after germination.

Before starting make sure you have everything ready; your new pots and some fresh potting soil. I like to put a piece of paper towel or newspaper in the bottom of the pots to keep the dirt from coming out the bottom. By the time the seedlings need to be transplanted again (either into bigger pots or into the garden) this paper will have dissolved.

Pots ready for seedlings.

Freeing a seedling from its neighbors in a pot can be daunting if you haven’t done it before. One precaution is to always grasp a plant by a leaf not the stem. The plant can survive loss or injury to a leaf but if you break the stem it is fatal! I use a spoon and start at the edge of the pot and carefully lift the seedling. Try to choose the strongest seedlings rather than transplant every single one. I am often tempted to transplant them all as they look strong and healthy, but then I end up with way too many plants for my garden. Choose the sturdiest, most uniform plants and regretfully discard the others.

Use caution when separating your seedlings.

Set the seedling deeper than it was in the germination pot, placing the cotyledons just above the soil surface. Some plants, like tomatoes, will form roots along the section of the stem that is buried when you transplant deeper. Once every seedling has been transplanted make sure they are all labeled and given a drink of water. Then place them back under the grow lights.

Tomatoes look happier in their larger pots!

You may find that it’s getting rather crowded under the grow lights. If you have south facing windows you can rotate the seedlings from under the grow lights to the window. In a short time you’ll be transplanting the vegetable seedlings out into your garden.

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