suckrpnch
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Newbie question about once seedlings have started

First post here though I have been lurking around for some time.

I recently started several different vegetables from seed (I know I'm running a little behind). These are all started in 1x1 cells. From everything I read (skimmed), it was recommended to put "1 or more seeds per cell". Well I'm now wondering if I've overdone this. I wasn't expecting great results and for smaller seeds like peppers and tomatoes I put up to 4-5 seeds per cell. What I have now is 3-5 seedlings growing in each cell. I also have this 'problem' with all my plants (zucchini, cucumbers, melon, spinach, etc.)

Question is:
Do I weed out all but 1 or 2 seedlings or let them go for a while and try to separate and transplant? I was concerned about the separating process doing more damage than good.

I have pretty much unlimited planting space and with the canning, freezing plans and between family and neighbors, I would like to save as many as possible but not at the risk of losing more than I may gain.

Apologies if this has been asked or discussed or is obvious and I'm having a dense moment, but after reading and searching for a while I couldn't find this specific question.

Thanks in advance and love the site.

The Helpful Gardener
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We've been having a debate about that; some say cut the extras and some who cannot bring themselves to dispose of a plant like that say take them out and repot them.

I say if the amount of cells you are currently growing is the amount of plants you grew because that's how much space you have, cut them with scissors; no root disturbance that way, but don't leave them or they will compete and you will end up with several weakened plants rather than one good one...

HG
Scott Reil

suckrpnch
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Wow.. thanks for the quick reply.

I think I'll maybe try to separate some out and clip the rest if nothing else for an experiment for myself. For the ones that I do try to separate, is there a size or age I should let them get to before I start messn' with them?

The Helpful Gardener
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I am a huge fan of experimentation and applaud your idea... 8)

Getting them earlier might be beneficial before they really start developing lateral roots, so no time like the present. Padded tweezers might help (don't crush the stems).

HG
Scott Reil

suckrpnch
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Well I'll be sure and report my results :D

I have 216 1x1 cells started so I think I may have a few left if anything happens. My cucumbers took off like crazy so they'll be my first try at it (~1" tall at present). Most of my others are a little slower (tomatoes and peppers are just breaking the surface).

**Am I correct in waiting till at least the first set of true leaves?

Thanks again and if anyone has any pointers please chime in.. sometimes the obvious eludes me. :roll:

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BrianSkilton
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I normally, just take out the extra and just repot them. I like to have a little extra going, just in case something terrible happens... :shock:. Thats just me though...
Why buy produce when you can grow it?
-Nick

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applestar
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For your experimentation purposes, I wouldn't wait until true leaves. At the two seed leaf stage, the root is relatively simple -- mostly just trying to grow down. If you saturate the soil in the cell, the seedlings should separate out pretty easily. (Push the block out from the bottom if you can) Holding a seedling by one of the seed leaves is a good way to avoid crushing the all-important stem.

To pot this tender baby, the best way is to prep a cell with moistened soil mix, then poke a hole straight down with a pencil (or my personal choice -- a bamboo chopstick -- it's a little bit thinner than a pencil). It should be deep enough to hold the root without bending it. Suspend the seedling in this hole while holding it by a seed leaf and gently shoot water into the hole with a sprayer until enough soil washes in to hold the seedling upright. Sprinkle a bit more fine, almost dry soil around it as necessary, then gently fine-mist to settle the soil. :wink:

The Helpful Gardener
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Right on AS...

HG
Scott Reil

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rainbowgardener
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seedlings

nice description applestar. I plant my seeds thickly in the cells. I do wait til they have their first true leaves to transplant them. They just seem so delicate before that (but that's especially the smaller things like impatiens- squash for example are never delicate and I do transplant them as soon as they are up). But definitely you wouldn't want to wait any longer than that. I transplant them so that they are one per cell. Then when they start looking crowded that way or shading each other I transplant them to 3" pots. I suppose I could skip a step in there, but I've only got 16 feet of grow light area and tons of plants. It seems like a lot, but it does get full. So that gives me a little more time to get some things moved out before I spread the next ones out more....

suckrpnch
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Well, after being tied up with some other garbage, I finally got around to transplanting some of my seedlings.

I only transplanted half and just snipped the weaker looking 'extras' in the other cells. What really surprised me was the amount of roots that had developed already. In a cell with 3 1-1.5" seedlings, almost all the cell was one tangled ball of roots.

I only had time to get the cucumbers done today and will see how well the transplants do before deciding if I want to even bother with the other veggies.

Thanks for all the help and input everyone. :)

petalfuzz
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Yeah, I also start seeds in 1 x 1 cells and only put one seed per cell. Except for my salad crops, those got two seeds per cell--and my germination rate is beyond excellent! Then there's no transplanting necessary until the plant is way bigger. If a seed doesn't sprout, hey, it's only a 1 x 1 cell so who cares?

suckrpnch
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Well I generally have a pretty pessimistic attitude when starting new projects like this. Between having no grow light, no heating pad, and a rash of cooler overcast days, I was not expecting near the success that I've had. I've since picked up 2 4' lights and have rigged up a couple reptile heaters and with the exception of the peppers everything is taking off quite well. Assuming I kept accurate records there are only ~5 seeds out of ~700 that did not germinate. Are these numbers normal?

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