Here’s HerbDoc once again, with more on seed starting:
Once the seedlings start to push through the growing medium, they no longer require bottom heat, but they will need abundant light. If they don’t get enough light or they are crowded together, they will grow tall and spindly with very weak stems. To thin them out, snip extras off at the soil line. If they are pulled out, the roots of adjacent seedlings may be damaged.
Most of my seedlings go straight to the fluorescent light garden in the basement where the temperature runs from 60 – 65 degrees. I lower the lights to 4 inches from the tops of the seedlings and run them for about 12 hours a day. Although many folks swear by grow lights, I have had great results with one cool white and one warm white tube in pairs. Make sure that there is good air circulation and great drainage in the containers to prevent fungus, especially damping off, from occurring. I spray the seedlings with a chamomile solution to discourage damping off. Once the second set of true leaves appears, each seedling will be given its own pot and I water with a weak solution of Para Vida Bloom, an organic fertilizer.
About ten days before the safe planting date, move the little plants to a sheltered, partially shaded location to harden them off during the day and water them a bit less. The tender ones come in at night, but some of the hardier types like lettuce and parsley are relegated to the coldframe.
Once the safe planting date arrives, wait for a cloudy, damp day to plant the garden. (I’ve been known to plant in a light rain!) Dig a hole, set the plant in the soil, water, and cover the roots with fine soil or compost.
Sit back and enjoy your new garden! You’ve helped your little seeds to grow into productive plants and have saved money in the process.
I am not good with seeds, so I usually buy small plants. I’ve started some seeds this spring, though, so I hope they’ll do okay. What is the chamomile solution, Herb Doc, and what does it do for the seedlings?
I find that chamomile helps to prevent damping off, that nasty disease which causes seedlings to rot at the soil line and fall over. I just brew myself a mug of pure chamomile tea (one bag to the mug and let it steep for 15 minutes or so) and then dilute it with plain water in a quart sprayer bottle. As I said in the blog, make sure you have good air circulation around the little guys and they get plenty of light. This also helps to prevent disease. Good luck!