Image by Markus Spiske, obtained from public domain at Unsplash.com
Planting seedlings: An activity for children of all ages. If you’ve started seeds indoors, or if you purchase them from a nursery, it’s important to start them off right in your garden to insure success. This activity will help a child learn how to plant out seedlings properly for the best results.
- seedlings (either ones you have grown, or seedlings you have purchased)
- garden bed or container with fertile soil ready for planting. (Adding well composted manure, compost, or worm castings helps to insure your plants will have sufficient nutrients to do well.)
- garden trowel
- a watch or phone with a timer and alarm
- empty milk jugs or water bottles (optional)
- When planting seedlings it is important to first “harden them off”. This simply means taking them outside for increasing periods of time each day over one week and exposing them to more and more weather conditions each day. For example:
- Day 1: place your seedlings in a shady spot protected from wind for two hours (set a timer with an alarm to make sure you don’t forget about them). Bring them back inside after the two hours.
- Day 2: place your seedlings in the same place for four hours.
- Day 3: place your seedlings in a place with protected sun such as under a tree for four hours.
- Day 4: place your seedlings in the same place and increase the time to five hours.
- Day 5: place your seedlings in a place that gets partial sun for five hours.
- Day 6: place your seedlings in a the same place for 7 hours.
- Day 7: place your seedlings in the same place for 9 hours.
- Make sure that you monitor your plants and adjust care as needed.
- You are now ready to plant your seedlings in the garden.
- Using a garden trowel, dig an appropriate sized hole where the seedling will be planted.
- Remove the seedling from its pot and place it in the hole. If the seeds were planted in compostable pots, you can simply place the seedling along with the pot in the hole.
- Gently place dirt to fill in the hole and compact it with your hands around the plant. For most plants, fill the dirt to the same level as it was in the pot. For tomatoes, fill the dirt as high six inches up around the stem. The tomatoes will put out new roots from the stem and planting them deeper will help them grow bigger and stronger.
- After planting, gently water the plants and fill in any holes created by settling with extra dirt.
- Make sure to monitor the weather closely for the first few weeks after planting.
- If it may frost, cover each seedling with a milk jug that has the bottom removed to create a mini greenhouse. Then remove it during the day so the plants don’t bake.
- Make sure to water frequently if there is no rain.
Watch the following videos for more tips on planting out your seedlings.