September 26, 2022

GARDENING – HOW TO GROW HEALTHY SEEDLINGS

A good head start is necessary for a successful cropping season and healthy seedlings have been known as one of the ways to achieve this head start. The importance of raising healthy seedlings cannot be overemphasized in planning for ones cropping season.

Some growers may prefer to raise seedlings in the open field while others may prefer to do theirs in a potting mix inside a nursery. In the end however, the seedlings should be healthy enough to give you a major boost for the season. For me, I will always go for a soilless potting mix.

The following processes are involved in nursing seeds in a soilless potting mix:

  • Get seeds from a trusted supplier.
  • Clean seed trays thoroughly to do away with all forms of pathogens.
  • Mix one part of vermiculite with two parts of cocopeat/ peatmoss.
  • Add reasonable amount of water to keep mixture moist.
  • Fill cleaned trays with mixture to a reasonable level.
  • Make holes in the media depending on the size of the seed.
  • Place seeds in the holes making sure seeds do not go in too deep.
  • Cover holes with potting mix and spread some quantity of vermiculite on the surface of the tray.
  • Sprinkle water on the trays to maintain a reasonable level of moisture.
  • Keep trays in a dark room with reasonable humidity level  to avoid moisture loss.

Note: At this stage, it is very important to pay critical attention to your seeds as failure to do so will be at your own peril.

  • After placing seeds in dark room, visit them regularly to check for germinated seeds. Every crop usually has an estimated time for germination. However, I prefer you check regularly to avoid inconvenience as germinated seeds which stay longer in the dark room could etiolate.
  • Immediately you realize one or two seeds have germinated, bring trays out of dark chamber and expose them to light prior to emergence.
  • At this stage, water seeds as and when moisture level reduces. NB: Some potting mixes at this stage have enough nutrient to support seeds until after emergence. (Usually when the plant develops its first true leaf.
  • Supplement potting mix with the right quantities of nutrients until the seedlings become properly established for transplanting.

KEY

Soilless potting mix: A soilless potting mix might actually look like soil but its definitely not. Its actually a mix of organic matter like peat, wood chips, coco coir (Cocopeat), perlite and / or vermiculite and often a slow release fertilizer. There is no inorganic matter like sand, silt or clay involved.

Etiolation: a process in flowering plants grown in partial or complete absence of light. It is characterized by long, weak stems; smaller leaves due to longer internodes; and a pale yellow. 

Source: Kenneth Lassey

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