Step 4. Caring for the Seeds & Seedlings

Step 4. Caring for the Seeds & Seedlings

Once the seeds are planted, don't forget to nurture them!

Keep the soil moist until the seed germinates. Watering the seeds is critical. Never let the soil dry out; seedlings do not have a good root system and will dry out in a few hours, especially if it is windy outside. Use drip irrigation or place a hose at ground level and let the water gently soak the planting area.

You will need to thin the seedlings to the proper distance when they are several inches tall. Don't be afraid to lose weight! If you don't, your plants won't have the space and nutrients to grow and will crowd out.

Protect the seedlings. Some pests also love these tender seedlings. If you have critters or pests, there are a number of different techniques to protect your seedlings, including netting, row covers and small plant collars.

Provide trellises and supports such as poles or cages. For example, cucumbers need vertical supports to produce straight (rather than curved or misshapen) fruit. Any vines or sprawling plants like melons or beans also need support. Tomatoes also need supports or cages for their heavy fruit.

Pinch leggy plants back. Many vegetables - and herbs in particular - benefit from being "pinched back" after they grow 3 sets of true leaves. Pinching simply means cutting the top of the plant back to its next set of leaves. This will support more branches so your plant doesn't droop and grows more compact.

Keep pampering your seedlings until they become established plants!


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