One easy way to get a jump on the summer growing season is by planting squash and cucumber plants indoors 6 weeks before the last spring frost. Planting these seeds individually in their own starter pot is one method for starting seeds early; another method is to plant a dozen or more squash or cucumber seeds in a single large pot which can then be transplanted later.
There are several benefits to starting seeds this way. Planting squash and cucumber seeds in a single pot is a great way to save space, especially if you are trying to crowd many seedlings beneath a single grow light. This planting strategy also works well for starting seeds that are more than a couple of years old since you won’t be wasting valuable potting mix and peat pots on seeds might not germinate.
Once the squash and cucumber seedlings reach a height of 3-4 inches, it’s time to plant them into individual 4×4 pots. Here is how it’s done.
Supplies needed for transplanting seedlings into larger containers include: 4×4 plastic pots (or something similar), a bag of potting mix, strained soil from the bottom of the compost bin, trowel, and a watering can with a narrow spout.
Preparing the pots.
Begin by troweling compost into the bottom of each pot until the pot is halfway filled. Top off with potting mix. Do not pack.
Breaking apart the transplants.
If the pot is one-quart sized or smaller, inverted the pot over one hand and gently tap the base of the pot with the other hand until the seedlings release from the pot. If the pot is larger than this, you will need to tilt the pot onto the potting bench (at a 45 degree angle) and carefully tap the base. Once the transplants are out of the pot, gently break apart the root clusters taking care to avoid damaging the roots. Since these transplants will dry quickly, don’t break apart any more root clusters than can be transplanted in less than a couple of minutes.
Working quickly, create a plant hole in the pot with two fingers, drop the transplant into the hole, then pack the potting mix around the base. Repeat until all the cucumber and squash seedlings are in their new 4×4 pots.
Water each of the transplants at the base of the stem. Since the potting mix will settle, add more potting mix as needed then water again.
Place in indirect sunlight.
For the first couple of days, the transplants should be kept in an area with indirect lighting. Once new leaves start to develop, the squash and cucumber seedlings can be returned to a sunny place in the window.
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