Grow tomato and annual summer flower seedlings
This article is instructions for growing seedlings, for plants that will be grown during the summer months of June, July, and August. Annual flowers and tomatoes are good examples of seedlings that can be grow using these instructions. These instructions are for plants grown in the Midwest part of the United States. Some of the information here is different then seedlings grown to be planted after the last frost. Since growing conditions for different seeds vary, the effect on seedlings, by following these instructions, can vary.
Instructions for growing seedlings
To begin soak seed. Wet a paper towel, put seeds on one half of the towel, and fold the towel over. Put in plastic bag and add one teaspoon of water. Put bag out of the light and keep at room temperature.
After 3 days the seeds will be ready to plant in containers. Into a container with drain holes, add potting soil, up to 1/2 inch from top. Put 1/2 inch of seed starter mix on top. Plant seed 1/4 inch from top. Put containers in a tray to catch the water that drains from the containers. Put plastic around both the tray and container. Arrange plastic so it can be easily removed when watering seeds. A small child size sprinkling can works good to water seedlings. Do Water seeds from top. Always keep soil moist. Never let the top 1 inch of soil become dry or water logged. The bottom can be sitting in 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water. In 3 to 5 days two cotyledons will have grown at the top of the stem. Cotyledons look similar to leaves. They are not leaves. The first leaves will grow out of the stem above the cotyledons.
After the first leaves appear, around 3 days after cotyledons appear, the plastic is removed. Do not put plastic back on at any time after this. A water soluble fertilizer is added to the water. Use the water with the fertilizer to water from now on. Put light approximately 1 to 2 inches above the seedlings. For 7 to 10 days keep the light 1 to 2 inches above growing seedlings and continuing watering.
After the 7 to 10 days it’s time to begin the hardening off process. This is to take the plants outside with temperature 40 or above. Bring plants back inside when temperatures are below this. Leave outside both day and night when temperature permits.
Animals such as birds and rabbits can eat the smaller seedlings. Use a fence wire, such as chicken mesh, around and above the seedlings to keep these animals away from seedlings. Keep soil moist. After plants are 3 to 4 inches tall they should be planted where they are to grow.
Have a dust insecticide available to use immediately when signs of insects eating the leaves appear. Water plants for around 3 to 5 days, if rain is not sufficient, to keep soil at the plant moist.
Information about growing seedlings.
Energy for the germination process to work is inside the seed. The germination process starts when the seed receives heat and water. It is completed when the first leaves appear on the stem above the cotyledons. The energy stored in the seed is used up at this point. To continue growing the energy is now received from two sources. One is through the roots by taking nutrients out of the soil. The second is from the light energy which falls on the leaves. Because of this the way of caring for the seedlings has to be changed after the first leaves come out. That was done in instructions when the plastic was removed, fertilizer was added to the water, and the light was put 1 to 2 inches above the seedling.
The light is kept 1 to 2 inches above the seedlings because the seedlings will grow to the light, which is the up direction. If it was much higher the seedling could grow very quickly to the light and the stem can be too long for the plant.
Before the first leaves the light was so the plant would grow in the up direction and the plastic was on to keep the heat in the soil and the seed. The fertilizer was not used because of the possible interference of the germination process which only needed the energy stored in the seed.
When growing seedlings inside it is needed to imitate the natural conditions the seedling has when growing outside. Sometimes, if, you cannot get these close enough to being right, the plants will have to be grow outside.
Quickly grown seeds are less likely to die because of damping off. Damping off occurs when the seedling falls over at the soil level. This can happens 2 to 3 days after the first leaves appear. Damping off is caused by fungi that can be found in garden soil. The potting soil and the seed starter mix, which are purchase in a store, probably will not have these fungi. Garden soil can be put in the oven and heated to get rid of these fungi. To heat soil, put 1 inch of garden soil in pan. Heat in oven, with setting on bake, at 300 degrees for 20 minutes.
If there is a problem with seedlings stems growing to quickly and the stems get too long. A possible solution is to cover seedlings so no light at all gets to the seedling during the night. And during the day time having all the light reaching the seedling at the same brightness.
Plants after growing larger, in the garden, will lose the taste and smell that causes animals to eat them when they are young.
If, after planting a seedling, you find it is needed to continue watering after 3 to 5 days, most likely the natural growing conditions for the plant are not the growing condition of your area. And you will have to continuing imitating the natural growing conditions for the plant.