Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My seeds have sprouted, now what?

Once your seeds have sprouted, there are things you need to do to encourage them to grow strong and healthy.  Seedlings grow best when they have plenty of light. Most of the time the light coming through the window isn’t going to be enough for your seedlings. Seedlings need a consistent source of light.
An easy way to do this is to install grow lights over your seeds. You can use full spectrum T-12 bulbs (these fit a standard shop light fixture) or T-5 fluorescent bulbs.  
Next to light, watering is most important. Check your seedlings every day and keep the soil moist, not soggy. Don't use water that is too cold (or too hot). Fill up your watering can and let it set out overnight. That way the water will be at room temperature when you water your seedlings. 
Make sure you have plenty of room for your starts. Overcrowding leads to weak plants.
Use a heat mat. Keeping your soil warm day and night is the key to developing strong roots and plants. You’ll see a big difference in how fast your seeds germinate and grow, when you start using a heat mat.
Feed your starts once a week with a mild fertilizer such as kelp and seaweed. Begin fertilizing once your plants have 3-4 sets of true leaves. This will provide nutrients your plants need in order to grow properly.
Brush your starts several times a day. Plants, especially tomatoes need movement in order to develop strong stems. Brushing them a couple of times a day makes them stronger.  Or simply install a small fan and run it 5-10 minutes twice a day. Doing these things will help your plants get ready to move out into the garden.

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