Despite only being sown last Monday (2 April), the Midnight courgettes were the first to germinate and so were ready to prick out today. It’s important to get the right balance when pricking out seedlings – not too soon so you end up inadvertently damaging the tiny seedlings during transplanting but not leaving them too long so they become leggy or grow such an extensive root structure in the seed tray that again they end up getting damaged in the process.
We were pricking these out into 3 inch square pots, filled with multipurpose compost – slightly firmed down half way through filling, and then filled to the top. Before pricking out a seedling into each pot, the pots were given a light watering to moisten the compost.
A hole large enough for the seedling was made in the pot with the dibber tool. Make sure when making the hole that it is large enough to easily fit the seedling plus any roots it may have made. It can be a good idea if it is the first time that you’ve grown something to leverage one of the seedlings out of the seed tray before making the hole so you can get an idea of how big it needs to be. You don’t want to be fiddling around too much adjusting the size of your hole with a seedling waving around in your other hand!
As you can see, these courgette seedlings have made a surprising amount of root for what is still a relatively small seedling. However, not all seedlings are the same. For example, leek seedlings typically just grow a single root to begin with which is essentially an extension of the seedling itself.
When transplanting the seedling, don’t be afraid to lower it down into the compost a little further than you may be comfortable with. Most seedlings will not be affected if you submerge the bottom part into the compost and this can encourage a stronger, stockier plant. This is also a great way to salvage seedlings which have gone a bit leggy, and grown too tall before you’ve had a chance to prick them out – just submerge them into the compost a little more than you ordinarily would.
Once transplanted, the seedlings are gently firmed into the compost to stabilise the seedling, before giving them a final light water and leaving them to grow on.