The 14 day old sprouts have outgrown their breeches. They already need to be transplanted. This is one of my favorite parts of gardening because now the hands get dirty and the plants are in their most tender state. Thinning the plants is done, and it seems that process really helps the chosen few to take off and grow with vigor.
If starting seeds under lights, you will understand the problem I have every year – those seedlings on the fringes of the light grow slower. It is good to rotate and move around your growing trays so all the plants can have good light. Some of my peppers (the Thai Chili Peppers) and my basil are a bit small for transplanting, but I’m going for it anyway. I’m not sure where all these peppers will go, I’ll probably plant them in containers this year.
One product I really have enjoyed over the years is the Jiffy brand seed-starting peat pellets. Yeah, I know, real gardeners don’t use that big box store junk. Uh-huh. Moving on, I like the Jiffy trays and the peat pellets for their ease and tidiness, but I have decided that I don’t like the silken mesh bag that is supposed to be easily penetrable by roots. Its also supposed to be biodegradable. However, when pulling up mature plants in the past, I have notice that roots show signs of having been bound up in this little mesh bag for far too long. Tiny seedling roots get through the mesh alright, but at the critical time after final planting in the garden, the roots need to be able to spread more easily than the Jiffy bag allows.
I have also noticed these little silken bags do not biodegrade. I have them all through my compost from many years ago. So when I transplant the seedlings to containers, I now either remove the silken bag altogether from the peat plug, or at least cut holes in it with my little shears if the roots are already too much mingled in the mesh. I’ll be paying attention to roots when I pull the plants at the end of the season.
I use a commercial brand organic potting soil and then (to many people’s horror) I mix in Miracle Grow potting soil as well. I use 3 parts organic to 1 part Miracle Grow just because I’m a bit of a fan of the stuff, regardless of the purist organic people’s opinions. They don’t have to eat my food, so I’ll use whatever kinds of soils I like, ha! My reasoning is simply preference. I have seen tomato plants grown in a five gallon bucket that grew seven feet tall and produced like crazy when potted in Miracle Grow Potting Soil (my 2009 jungle garden), while the same plant living in a bucket of very good compost-rich soil was half the size. So I like a time-release fertilizer, and for this stage of the process, I don’t really care if the nutrients are from a loamy compost or from fertilizer pellets. In the end, its all the same nutrient.
While I use Miracle Grow as a supplement in the potting stage, I don’t use it for any other purpose. It is said on gardening forums that there really isn’t anything terribly wrong with Miracle Grow, but if you have a healthy soil you already have all your plants need. So technically speaking, my plants are not organically grown until they hit the garden plot itself.
So that’s where the bounty of summer lies thus far – seedlings two weeks old are raring to go, and I am very pleased.