The first few weeks

Watch your seedlings as they begin to grow and the first few leaves appear. Seedlings will be competing for the same water, nutrients, and space to grow, so they will need to be separated into other containers.

The first two leaves to appear are simple, oblong-shaped seed leaves. Once the seedlings have their first pair of true leaves (p12), they can be thinned or pricked out. If you have sown two or three seeds in individual pots or cell packs and you only want one plant, you need to thin them out (below).

Seeds sown thickly in pots or seed trays are at greater risk of fungal infection, so seedlings should be pricked out into individual pots (opposite) as soon as they are large enough to handle. Use clean, 3in (7.5cm) pots filled with moist soil mix.

Grow the pricked-out seedlings indoors in well-ventilated conditions in a bright spot, but not in direct sun, at 61-75°F (16-24°C). They will cope with slightly cooler temperatures overnight. Keep the soil moist, not soggy. There is no need to feed the seedlings at this stage.

THINNING OUT SEEDLINGS - weeding out the weakest

Choose the strongest seedling in each pot or cell pack and remove the others. Simply pull them out gently or, to avoid disturbing the roots of the strongest one, nip them out at soil level with clean scissors or fingernails.

PRICKING OUT SEEDLINGS - handle them with care

IHold each seedling by its leaves (the fragile stems are easily damaged) and use a dibble or sturdy plant label to ease the seedling's roots gently from the soil.

2 Plant each seedling in a pot of fresh soil mix, filling in carefully so the seedling is at the same level as before, or slightly deeper if the stem is a bit lanky. Firm gently around the stem and water in well.

Alternatively, make a hole in the center of a filled pot with a pencil or your finger, and lower the seedling roots into the hole. Firm.

Building Your Own Greenhouse

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