Environmental Change-Makers www.EnviroChangeMakers.org
How to have
Success with Seedlings
The biggest problem we have in Southern California with respect to sprouting vegetable seeds is
maintainingconsistent soil moisture
. Most vegetable seeds need the soil to be moist, like a wrung-out sponge. They won’twant to drown and the half-sprouted seedlings will die if they dry out.Some techniques for keeping your seedlings moist:
largest block of soil
that you can. If you are using containers, thatmeans the biggest container you can spare.
Put your seed pots into bright shade or
, so that they are protectedfrom the intensity of the sun.
by placing your seedling pots inside a clear plasticbag. Note: a plastic bag-covered seed pot should never be placed into directsun, or you’ll cook it!
in a convenient place that you will check every singleday. Mine is located along the path I travel from back door to car. Check yourseedlings every single day, perhaps twice a day.
for seeds that have been sown in place in your garden soil– on hot days you can move a piece of patio furniture to cast shade. You canuse a cardboard box. Whatever you have around. Again, check your babiesfrequently.
Starter pots and seedling equipment:
Garden catalogs and magazines would love to sell you lots of “seed starting equipment.” Here in Southern California, you don’t need any of it. Think about it: TheEast Coasters need heat mats because their climate gets cold. On sunny February daysin Southern California, wemight have the oppositeproblem. A hot winter’s daycan fry your seedlings!Most starter pots and 6-packs are far too small for usbecause small soil blocks dry out very rapidly in ourSo Calif sunshine. Choose the biggest containerspossible.Use what you have around. What’s in your trash that youmight reuse before you recycle it? I use 32-oz yogurttubs, with holes punched in the bottom for drainage.
In Southern California, most vegetables can be seededdirectly into the ground where they are to go --
youfollow a local planting calendar. At the CommunityGarden, many of our plants are directly seeded into theplaces they will spend their entire lifespan.
Seedlings which don’ttransplant well:
Carrots, daikon radish, most root crops, andCalifornia poppies don’t transplant wellbecause they have a long taproot that is verychallenging to transplant without breaking ortwisting. Towering sunflowers need a reallysolid root structure to anchor them. Sow thesedirectly into the spot where they will spend theirentire lifespan.Legumes sprout so quickly that it is rarelyworthwhile to do anything besides direct-seeding.But if you have to, nearly anything (including trees) can be moved
, if you move enough soilwith it
so that it doesn’t know it has beenmoved.