Vegetable Gardening: Planting Seeds/Transplanting Seedlings
You may wonder if planting is difficult and complicated as you think. No, it isn’t. In fact, your child can plant too with your supervision. (As part of enjoying outdoors and spending quality time with family) Just remember to sow seeds generously to allow them to sprout and for those seedlings that die to continue to grow. Scatter seeds when sowing or you can plant them in furrows. As a general rule, plant seeds to a depth of not more than 3 or 4x their thickness. There are three things to remember: 1) Seeds that are planted too shallow, wind or rain may wash them away before they sprout. 2) If planted too deep, they may germinate but die before reaching the surface. 3) If the soil is sandy or lighter, plant a little deeper.
Planting Seeds - Direct planting and its methods
Direct planting is the simplest way of planting seeds. This process has more advantage and is much preferred than transplanting because it prevents damage to roots and withering. A few examples of seeds that can be directly planted are okra, green beans, balsam apple (ampalaya), watermelon, radish, carrot, turnip, spinach, squash, cucumber, snap beans and bottle gourd (patola).
There are three direct methods - single rows, wide rows and hill planting - you can apply and each depends on the type of vegetable, the size of your garden, and your passion.
- Single Rows - Seeds are planted in rows of equal distances apart. The distances between rows and between seeds within the rows differ depending on what kind of vegetable you plant. Make the rows straight to look neat. To do this, stretch a line between 2 stakes on both ends of the row and sow the seeds along it OR you can mark a line on the ground and make it as straight as possible
- Wide Rows – Seeds are sown at equal spacing in both directions over a wide area. The width of the row can be 6 to 16 inches and is limited by the arm’s reach to the area in the middle of the row while standing at the edges.
- Hill Planting – As the name implies you need not sow seeds in a formed hill. In hill planting 3 to 5 seeds are sown close to each other. This method is used for planting potatoes and cucumbers as examples.
Planting by using seed box or any container
Plant seeds in any container and wait for them to grow until about 2 to 4 inches tall before transplanting them to a separate plot.
Here’s how to make a seed box:
- Make a box whose size is 50 cm length, 30 x 33 cm width and 7 cm height.
- Bore holes with a dibble.
- Fill up the seed box with soil and level it.
- Plant 2 or more seeds at 0.3 – 0.6 cm deep on each spot.
If no seed boxes are available, you can use other containers such as paper cups, flower pots, plastic foam, aluminum baking trays and tin cans. If you use used containers, be sure to clean them with mild solution of bleach to prevent spread of plant diseases.
Before sowing, soak the seeds overnight to help loosen the outer covering that hastens germination. Then plant them in the seed box the following day, water carefully the seed bed by using a fine sprinkler with its nozzle pointed upward so the droplets of water fall gently on the surface. The best time of the day to water is early morning and mid-afternoon. Avoid watering in the late afternoon because it causes the soil surface to stay moist which makes it prone to damping off, a kind of seedling disease. When seedlings start to grow, put the seed box under the sun little by little. After some time, your seedlings are ready for transplanting.
Plants that grow through transplanting are sweet and hot peppers, cauliflower, onion, lettuce, cabbage, tomato, celery and eggplant.
Transplanting is one of the most critical stages in growing vegetable seedlings. For your success in transplanting, here are the tips:
- Timing - Take note: Seedlings should be in their 1 or 2 real leaf stage. The first leaves that appear are not the real leaves, but they are the seed leaves or what we call cotyledons and these dry up as the plant grows. When the first real leaves have fully opened, it is time to transplant.
- Moisture - Fill the containers with a quality potting mix and tamp them down with a few taps on the bench. Then put the containers in a tray of water to soak the water into them from the bottom up through its capillary action. When the top of the potting mix in the containers is wet, they are ready for new seedlings.
- Technique – Bore a hole in the wet soil using a dibble-like implement like blunt pencil, popsicle or stick. Lift the seedling carefully from the seed box by holding its leaves, not its stem, and bury it up to the level of the seed leaves.
- Fertilization – After the seedlings are transplanted, put the container in a tray of water, this time the water is added with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer. After they are fully saturated, place seedlings under fluorescent light until they grow.