Friday, April 21, 2017

Starting Seeds in Soil Blocks: Part 3, After They Sprout

They sprouted!  Now what? 

Unless you want the seedlings to die from lack of space for their roots, you have to do something with them.  You have three choices:
  • Direct planting out to your garden
  • Moving the sprouts to a larger soil block to grow larger
  • Moving the sprouts to a pot, either permanently or to grow larger

Direct planting out

If growing conditions are good, you can move the seedlings in the 3/4" blocks directly to a prepared spot in the garden.  Make sure the planting area is well-watered before you start, with moist soil several inches deep.

Make a hole in the soil about an inch across and an inch deep, gently place the block into it and gently firm the soil around it.  If there are dangling roots, try to get them into the bottom of the hole. Gently water the seedlings immediately after you set them out, and twice a day for a few days afterwards. After that, water as needed to keep them growing and non wilted.

Conveniently, my thumb is the right size for making holes.  If your thumb doesn't measure up, a piece of 1" dowel, a small frosting spatula, or whatever you have lying around of the right size will work.  The tool in the background is a small painters spatula I use for nudging the blocks apart so they are easier to pick up.

Lettuce seedling in 3/4" micro block

Lettuce and Bok Choy planted into raised bed

TIP: Covering the newly planted area with frost cover provides some shade and minimizes evaporation and transplant shock.

Moving the sprouts to a larger soil block

Make as many Micro-4 (2") blocks with the square insert as you have seedlings to move. With narrow tongs, carefully pick up one seedling from the tray.

Well rooted tomatillo seedling

Lower the seedling into the depression in the larger soil block. When you are finished, mist the blocks thoroughly with water. Keep them moist and in a brightly lit place.

Tomatillo seedling in larger soil block

Moving the sprouts to a pot

This is like planting them out in the garden: make hole, insert seedling in its soil block. Keep moist.

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