Starting transplants inside

Many gardeners have not tried their luck with seedlings because they think the whole process is difficult and time-consuming. In fact, it's quite simple. To start, all you need is: (a) a growing medium; (b) warmth and moisture; and (c) adequate light There are two general methods to choose from—the two step and the one step.

Two-step method:

You can start quantities of plants in containers and transplant them later into individual pots. Plant initially in commercial plastic flats or half-flats, in shallow wooden crates or in such household items as aluminum meat loaf pans, milk cartons cut lengthwise, large frozen food containers, cut-off gallon bleach containers and the like. Following is an outline of the procedure:-

Step 1:

  1. Fill the container with vermiculite, commercial soil mix or a homemade soil mix. Scrape off the excess, mix with a flat knife or stick, then press down the remaining soil lightly.
  2. Make furrows with a pencil or similar tool.
  3. When using large flats, water from above before planting seeds. With smaller containers, water from the bottom after planting. You can put one or two inches of water in a sink and place the container in it When the surface of the vermiculite becomes moist take the container out and allow it to drain.
  4. Sow seeds directly from the package, about an inch apart Sow more seeds than the number of plants you'd like to end up with. Then, when they come up, thin out the weak plants by clipping with a small pair of scissors.
  5. Slip the trays into a plastic bag (a bread bag will do fine), and keep as close to 70 degrees Fahrenheit as possible. Don't water again until after germina-tion—that is, after you see the little sprouts poking up through the soil—and after that add only enough water to keep the soil mix damp.

Step 2:

When the first true leaves have formed (the first two leaflike growths are not leaves, the third and succeeding ones are), dig the seedlings out and put them into pots; handling them carefully by the seed leaves. When they are five or six inches high, you can transfer them into the garden plot or large container.

Figure 6.01 Method

Start directly from seed in garden Start indoors, transplant to garden Start indoors or outdoors

Start from seed in garden or start indoors in individual biodegradable containers to protect sensitive root systems

Start in other ways


Beets Carrots Corn sa/ad Cress, Garden

Broccoli Brusset sprouts Cabbage Cardoon

Chinese cabbage Chard Col lards Corn




Artichokes: start from root divisions

Type of Vegetables




Cauliflower Celeriac Celery Eggplant

Endive, Escarole Kale




Onions: start from sets seeds, or smalt plants




Florence Fennel






Squash Watermelons

Potatoes: start from potato pieces

Figure 6.02

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