Seedlings in Trays - For How Long?

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Seedlings in Trays - For How Long?

Postby abrogard » Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:59 am

I want to plant some Kale. The ('Digger's) packet says: 'Sow in punnets in Autumn-Spring' and 'Transplant in Spring'

This means the seedlings stay in the punnet from, say, Autumn (now for instance) to next Spring? What an earth is this 'punnet'? How big is it? How large are the Kale going to be after six months? I don't understand.

I also have some cabbage and some cauliflower both of which say the same thing: sow in seed trays and plant out after 4-6 weeks. What do they mean 'seed tray'? The trays I use which seem pretty standard are only 50mm deep at best. The cabbage seedlings coming up in them are crowded to about, say, 1 per square centimetre. How on earth can they survive in there for 6 weeks?

I don't understand. There's some simple point I'm missing or something I'm misreading. Hence the query.

:)
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Re: Seedlings in Trays - For How Long?

Postby betr2garden » Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:09 pm

Hi abrogard,

I had never noticed, but sure enough that is what a lot of instructions say. I noticed the other day, when reading something written in US that they used a term 'transplant' as a size. Maybe it is either sow in seedtrays, or buy a punnet (seems they are what we use, the small containers seedlings and herbs come in at the nursery) of seedlings, or buy a transplant (seems to be the smaller individual pot size). I could be wrong, but I agree with you it sure seems confusing.

The seedtray should only be able to keep the seedlings until they are strong enough to go out in the garden. I think you have seed tray right. Maybe 4-6 weeks depending on where you live. I know the seeds I put in recently said they would come up in 7-10 days and they were all up in 4 days.

If your seedlings are up and strong, you can plant them out after a few weeks but, if you can't get to them or conditions outside are no good, you can probably leave them in the trays for a while and they will still be ok to plant out.
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Re: Seedlings in Trays - For How Long?

Postby kitkat » Mon Mar 19, 2012 3:25 pm

Usually seedlings go into the ground when they have two sets of true leaves- the first leaf grown is not the 'true' leaf on most seedlings. It can take anything from 3-4 to 8-10 weeks for most seedlings to get their true leaves.
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Re: Seedlings in Trays - For How Long?

Postby abrogard » Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:53 am

Aha... TWO sets of true leaves. I had the idea one set was enough.

And a thing I learned recently on these forums was that we can untangle tangled up seedling root growth and plant out and won't hurt the plant. That knowledge made a big difference to me.

I'd been thinking those baby root filaments were so delicate that they'd be harmed and hence the seedling would be harmed. I was recently donated a package of seedling of some 100mm high and they were all root tangled but 100mm high - from ground level - is much higher than the kind of things I'm talking about.

And that's the point, really - 100mm high is not a height I would expect my seed tray to support. But have I got it wrong? Will they do that?

I'm thinking stuff like these cabbages have already been there too long - they're looking 'leggy' to me, one of them is already lying down... but they've only got one true leaf. Under the influence of this thread I'm going to leave them go a bit more but I wonder....

IMG_9763 [800x600].JPG
two week old cabbage seedlings


But none of that explains the 'sow in punnets Autumn to Spring, Transplant in Spring.' I'm going to assume it means don't sow in punnets any later than Spring. And I'll put some to the test (now that'd be intelligent, wouldn't it?) and sow in seed trays and just see how they go - maybe they will crawl along and take 5 months to get to where they need to be transplanted.
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Re: Seedlings in Trays - For How Long?

Postby kitkat » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:52 am

I would let them get a bit bigger yet - your losses will be higher if they are not about 100mm or have two sets of true leaves. Yes you can gently untangle roots when planting out with not detriment to the plant as long as they are helped along with a little 'worm tea' or seasol at planting time.
I use similar recycled food trays for my seedlings which grow up to about 15cm high with no problems at all .Yours look nice and healthy so I suggest to keep em growing with a little help - with very dilute worm tea or seasol once a week for now, and then plant out when they have their next set of true leaves.Which could be just a week or maybe two depending on weather.
good luck
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Re: Seedlings in Trays - For How Long?

Postby abrogard » Wed Mar 21, 2012 2:03 pm

Okay, thanks for that. I don't have Seasol, I'll get some just for the job.

Looked at some seedlings in Bunnings this morning and saw what was happening. Yes, their punnets are not much deeper than my trays if at all, and their seedlings lie down and twist around and get tangled and seem to develop a couple or more sets of true leaves without rising up out of the trays.

That's cabbages I was looking at, same thing I've got sprouting.

I should have looked before, eh? Bit slack. The internet is so convenient, so accessible, I'm falling into the habit of looking for help on a forum at the first sign of a problem instead of doing something for myself to find an answer... dumbing myself down, perhaps, robbing myself of initiative, problem solving skills..... I wonder if that's a real thing... or just my fevered imagination...

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Re: Seedlings in Trays - For How Long?

Postby kitkat » Wed Mar 21, 2012 2:37 pm

LOL Definitely not feverish!
The reason they get leggy and twisted is usually because they are too confined/crowded on the shelf in the nursery and struggle to get to the light. They grow too fast then fall over because they are not strong. Yours are not doing that and look very healthy. Nursery specimens are not all the same , look around and always go for the strong stem rather than the long leggy seedlings and you will have good results if buying them or when growing them too aim for that strong stem and compact growth. Leggy/spindly /long is not healthy.
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