One of the pitfalls to starting indoor seeds as early as I did is that the seedlings quickly outgrow their first container. If not transplanted within no more than 4 weeks the seedlings will become root bound. I am currently two weeks in, but decided to transfer a little early because I have some larger seedlings like sunflowers that have already out grown their starter pots (eggshells). Yes, I start my sunflowers indoors and it is quite a process for me to keep these alive (for little furry reasons), but I will share more about this problem later.
Because of the volume of seedlings that I have I do not have enough pots to contain them all. I do not buy peat pots at the store because I try to invest as little money as possible in my garden. I use the pots that I have on hand and make up the difference with homemade pots. This is where you have to get creative. This year I decided to make use of the extra coconut shells that I had leftover after making my own coconut shreds and coconut milk. But you can use plastic Chinese take out containers or whatever you can find that is larger than the starter pods. Whatever you use, you must make sure that you have adequate drainage by poking a hole in the bottom to allow water and air to pass through. Make sure you have a tray to catch the excess water. Here’s how I used the coconut shells:
1) Poke at least one ‘eye’ of the coconut shell to allow water to drain. For the side with no ‘eyes’ you can drill 3 smaller holes. Without a drill you will not be able to make a hole as it is too thick
2) Shells are now ready to be filled with organic potting soil.
3) Peel the eggshell off the seedling. Try to avoid disturbing the roots and soil as much as possible. (If more than one seedling sprouted take out the most unhealthy looking one and toss before peeling the eggshell — for plants like herbs I will usually replant multiple sprouts, but larger plants need to be thinned.)
4) Make a hole into soil large enough for the new seedling. Place the seedling into the new pot with soil and soil from the original pod. I usually put up to two seedlings in each shell. The roots will tie each other up a little when you are ready to place in the ground, but I have never had a plant die when I break up the roots. It saves on space and having a bazillion pots around.
5) LABEL, LABEL, LABEL
6) Place in a sunny space and keep soil moist (not wet and not dried out). As the plants grow they will require more water.
TIP: It’s helpful to do the transplanting outdoors to keep the indoor mess to a minimum. The coconut shells were started indoors, but the pots were all planted outside because the weather was sunny and 75 the day I worked on this!!
Next Up: Preparing the soil in the outdoor garden and hardening off the seedlings
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