Tough Love for Delicate Seedlings

03 Mar

Those with an incurable case of spring fever who are eager to get a jump on planting the garden this year, have already sprinkled seeds and begun the process of daily monitoring (stalking) the container for the emergance of life.

Seeds have emerged and begin to turn toward the sun.

Seeds respond by erupting from the soil, unfurling delicate, pale leaves and then – in some cases – collapsing in a weak pile of death. That, my friend, happens because tender stalks cannot support the weight of new growth. Simply put, in order to urge seedlings along we must “toughen up” or “harden off” these delicate sprouts.

The easiest way to do this is with a common heater most of us keep beneath our desk in the office. Some heaters are equipped with fans that blow cool air. If yours isn’t, set the temperature on the coolest level possible.

In the photo below, notice the humidifier behind the seedlings. The addition of steam or moisture (if a cold water humidifier is used) increases humidity levels in the room. Reflective paper ensures that not one single ray of sunlight is wasted. These two tricks make plants happy.Steam from the humidifier and reflective paper provide ideal growing conditions

Position the fan so that it blows directly on the plants, then turn it to the lowest setting. While the plants sway and move beneath the force of circulated air, they will not break. In fact, the base of the plants will thicken.

Seedlings placed near a window, versus those grown beneath direct (overhead) light, require daily rotation as each plant automatically seeks the sun. At the end of each day, give the container a quick quarter turn and allow the fan to blow on the plants for a half hour.

Soon your babies will be ready to face the outside world.

Renea Winchester is the author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes. Like the page on Facebook (HERE) for up-to-date happenings on Billy’s little strip of land.


One response to “Tough Love for Delicate Seedlings

  1. Kari Salomon

    March 4, 2012 at 2:33 am

    Thanks for the advice!


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