Tips for raising seedlings
*Use a good quality seed raising mix or make your own using one part course river sand, one part vermiculite or peatmoss and one part garden soil. Ensure the mix is open, well drained and friable. The mix should absorb moisture quickly and then drain freely within a few seconds, if it doesn’t add a little more course river sand.
*Choose a protected spot to raise seedlings. If in an open seed bed, position a frame over the bed and cover with a light shade cloth. Use the fame for protecting the young seedlings during the hottest part of the day and in heavy rain. Don’t keep the seedlings covered all the time otherwise they will become soft and lanky.
*Seedlings raised in containers can be moved to give seedlings the required amount of shade or sunlight. They can be kept indoors to provide a higher and more even degree of temperature, moving them outside once the seedlings have emerged.
*Before sowing treat the seeds with a fungicidal dust by adding a small amount of dust to the seeds in the packet, fold down the top and shake well for a few seconds, coating each seed with fungicide. Use any fungicide dust such as copper oxychloride, rose or tomato dust. This will protect seedlings against soil-borne diseases such as ‘damping off’. Do not use cabbage dust as this is an insecticide not a fungicide.
*Use good quality seed raising mix to cover the seeds, and lightly mulch the beds, this will help soil to retain moisture and prevent the soil surface from caking. When seedlings have emerged, water more thoroughly and less frequently to encourage deep rooting. Generally most seeds must be kept damp but not wet, until the seedlings emerge through the soil surface. This is very important for seeds which may take 3-4 weeks to emerge. If soil is too moist, seeds may rot away before they germinate.
*For extra warmth, especially during winter, cover seed beds or trays with a clear plastic cover out of direct sunlight. Once the seedlings have emerged remove the cover.
*Snails and slugs love young seedlings, scatter Blitzem or snail pellets over the bed a day or two after you sow the seed. Repeat again when seedlings have emerged and also after heavy rain.
*When transplanting your seedlings into the garden, water the plant with an application of seaweed. This will assist the plants to overcome transplant shock and promote healthy growth of your plants.
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