All seeds are suitable for direct sowing – No one was there to transplant in nature. So why are we growing seedlings and transplanting them?
The Benefits of Grow and Transplant
The biggest benefit is to avoid diseases during the plants’ premature stage, such as damping off. It also allows flexible management of water, fertilizer and temperature, especially when using seedling trays or pots. As for farmers, it allows checking of germination rate before transplanting, identifying diseases at early stage, and early sowing early harvest, leading to efficient use of land.
Not all plants are suitable for transplanting. Generally, if you are harvesting the roots, don’t transplant; if your crop can be harvested in a month, you don’t need to transplant.
So what are the elements that lead to higher possibility of healthy seedlings?
Element 1 - Earth
Garden soil is often too heavy, mixed with weeds or roots from earlier crops, or even disease. Use light quality soil, seed-starting mix, or potting mix. Wet the soil and you are ready to plant seeds (Continue reading for the proper planting depth). Gently tamp your soil for soil compaction, then gently (always gently!) spray water to secure seeds. Seeds are powered with nutrients for germination, but you will need to fertilize the soil after the emergence of their first set of true leaves. This is also why if you were harvesting Microgreen, you don’t have to fertilize throughout the process.
Element 2 - Metal
Follow the “From small to big” principle when choosing your container at different life-stage of the seedling. Start with a 4-5cm deep container with holes for drainage. It can be seedling trays, pots, or even your upcycled PET bottle or egg cartons. You may also choose bio-degradable pots. When you see the roots develop and crawl out of the drainage hole at your container, or the first set of true leaves is developed, it is highly possible that your seedling has formed a structure around the soil, then you can proceed to a heeling-in process - transferring seedling into bigger containers. For example, you can transfer your seedlings from an egg carton or seedling trays into these 7.5cm pots. Repeat the process, wait until the roots are developed again, then you can transplant to your vegetable garden. If your seedlings were grown indoors, it might be a good idea to place your seedlings in pots in the environment where you are going to plant, to allow them to harden off. When your plant starts to develop at least 2 true leaves - it is the right time to transplant. No wonder why the place where seedlings are grown is called a Nursery!
Element 3 - Wood
Back to our question: What is the proper soil coverage on top of your seed?
In general, it is wise to cover seeds with soil doubling their thickness, but it is also worth looking into the light requirements of different species. For example, gourds generally hate light, while lettuces love light that you can even leave them uncovered (but remember to avoid the birds). Light has a lesser impact on germination compared to temperature and humidity, but seedlings are sensitive to light. Indirect sunlight is most desired, but you can still grow seedlings near your field. More light is better than no light, to avoid leggy seedlings that might be weak when transplanted outdoor.
Element 4 - Water
This might be the most challenging part for most beginners. ‘Soil must not be too wet, and not dry’ (What does that mean?)
Water control requires observation. These three tips may help you. First, observe the soil colour, the darker it is, the wetter the soil. Second, observe the weight - as you guessed - the heavier the more water. Third, observe the seedling. If it is standing up straight, it is moist with the right amount of water. Some people cover their containers with plastic covers, or placing the container into plastic bags, to create a moist environment for their seeds before germination, rather like a greenhouse. You can try this method, but remember to remove the cover once the seed sprouts.
Element 5 - Fire
Right temperature and good ventilation are the keys. We will update an English version of germination temperature and days soon.
Now that you have read this article, are you ready to jump into growing your own seedlings?
These techniques not only applied to gourds, but also vegetables and flowers. Here are the tools that comes useful during the cultivation of seedlings:
Getting ready：Potting mix, Seedling pots or biodegradable seedling tray
Before transplant：Organic Fertilizer
★For beginners：Mini Cucumber Fadia (Spring Sow), Mini Cucumber Passandra (Autumn Sow), Lettuce - Seven Wonders, Okra
★For more advanced growers：Mini wax gourds - Jasmine、Watermelon - Yellow Bunting
Still not confident? No worries! We are providing all kinds of seedlings too - check out or WhatsApp us at 98188650 for more!