Saturday, February 27, 2010

Seedling Sunday: The Delicate Art of Seedling Transfer Part 1 - Paper Towel Seedlings

One of my favorite forms of germination is sprinkling the seeds on a damp paper towel, covering it with a plastic bag, and leaving it alone for a few  days.  It's almost insta-growth.  Even the most hard-to-germinate plants will start out quickly this way.  It only takes a few days to a week.

Take your base (I use meat trays that have been thoroughly washed) and lay two or three sheets of paper towel down.  You want enough ply so that the cloth will stay damp, but not too few so that the seeds are in water.  Sprinkle your seeds on top, spray gently with water, and seal in a ziploc baggie.  Don't forget to label.  A few days later, you'll see growth.

You don't want to leave them in the paper towel for very long.  Once you see a couple tiny leaves, you'll need to transplant.  Too much longer past that, and you'll damage the roots when you start manipulating the paper towel.

This is what you'll need:  Water, seed starter mix, potting soil mix, a place to transplant, and a spray bottle full of water.

 Now, a lot of people just use seed starter, but I'm a creative cheapskate.  Comes from growing up poor.  Seed started is expensive, and I don't like the way it holds water.  So, I fill y pot 3/4 with good old fashioned cheapy potting soil. 

Then I top it off with seed starter, and drench with water.

Now, the delicate part.  You can try to pull individual seedlings out, but I find that to be way too time consuming, with low returns if you damage the fragile root.  So I cut swatches out at a time.

Pull off the bottom layers of paper towel, leaving only the topmost layer.

If you turn it sideways, you'll get a really cool visualization.

Now lay the sheets on top of the pot.

Add a handful of more seed starter on top.  You can either leave the soil covering the plants, or gently blow on it to expose them to light.

Spray the whole lot with enough water to dampen the seed starter.  If you missed the pre-plant watering of the dirt, ever so carefully do it now.

Now revel in the new growth!

Well, I guess not all of are so easily pleased. 

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