Harvested, the garden prepared for winter - so it's time to think about preparing for the new season. It begins with the acquisition of seeds and thoughts on seedlings. Of course, the seedlings should be healthy and beautiful, with a well-developed root system and a strong stem. And in order for seedlings to turn out just like this, first of all, you need to decide - what is the most correct way to grow it? Any type of capacity for seedlings has its pros and cons. In this article, we will examine in more detail the advantages and disadvantages of the most popular seedling containers, which you can buy or make yourself.Choosing the right container for growing seedlings
Garden centers now have a wide selection of cups, containers and pots of any size, as well as peat and coconut tablets of different diameters. And also plastic and peat cartridges of all necessary sizes are sold, with the number of cells from 6 to 288 or more.
But many gardeners prefer to do with improvised materials. And then plastic bottles and paper cups, boxes of dairy products and confectionery, egg containers and even egg shells themselves come into play.
So what to choose? I advise you to focus on the culture whose seedlings you are going to grow. For example, some young plants need to be dived several times before they get into the garden. And the capacity will need to select the appropriate. And others will need only one transshipment directly into the garden, which means that their seeds are immediately sown in containers of large volumes.
1. Boxes for seedlings
They are made for seedlings from plastic or wood. The height of the walls is at least 8-10 cm. Usually they have drainage holes. Boxes that do not have “legs” are placed in pallets on bars (section 1x1cm). Seedlings are in the boxes until the first pair of true leaves appears, then the plants dive.
The benefits of growing seedlings in boxes
A large number of seedlings are placed in boxes, as they grow, you can reject weak and superfluous. It retains moisture better. Drawers are easier to turn towards the light. It is convenient to sow in them plants that require picking and those that during the first weeks of growth do not give a powerful growth of the root system (flower crops, strawberries, cabbage, leaf celery).
Cons of growing seedlings in boxes
There is a high probability of breaking off the thin roots of neighboring plants in the process of diving. If you are a bit late with picking seedlings grown in boxes, the roots of plants begin to intertwine. It will be simply impossible to get seedlings with intact roots. When turning the box with seedlings to the light, its heavy weight is felt, especially if a wooden box is used. Plants with fragile, poorly restored root systems (cucumbers, melons, zucchini, eggplant, peppers) are not sown in boxes.A large number of seedlings are placed in the boxes, as they grow, you can reject weak ones.
2. Plastic and peat cassettes
Pros of growing seedlings in plastic cassettes
Plastic cassettes are very convenient to use, but only if they are small in size. From them seedling is easily taken out. These cassettes can be used for several years and do not take up much space during storage. It is convenient to place seeds in peat or coconut tablets in plastic cassettes, choosing the appropriate size.
Cons of growing seedlings in plastic cassettes
Plastic is not always durable and quickly deteriorates. Sometimes cassettes are made of materials with a high content of harmful substances (for example, polyvinyl chloride), as evidenced by a pungent odor. Plastic cassettes are not suitable for growing plants with a well-developed root system. Since the volume of the cells is small, the soil dries quickly enough, which does not happen, for example, with the soil in the boxes for growing seedlings.
Cassettes are often sold without appropriate pallets. You need to make sure - in each cell there is a drainage hole. If it is, then, most often, it is very large (it is convenient to cover it with non-woven material and then the soil will not be washed out of the cell).
Large cassettes (cassette size 400X260 mm, number of cells 15) are not convenient for carrying or transporting seedlings. Plastic cassettes in combination with peat or coconut tablets are expensive.
The advantages of growing seedlings in peat cassettes
Peat cassettes are made from natural material (peat 70% and cardboard 30%), and within a month they completely disintegrate in the soil. The material from which the cartridges are made has a porous structure, which provides air access to the roots of seedlings. The cells are easily cut off from the cassette, and the seedlings are transplanted onto the bed together with the separated cell, which will need to be completely buried in the soil, while the roots are not damaged.
Cons of growing seedlings in peat cassettes
Mold sometimes appears on peat cassettes. The porous walls of the cassettes quickly absorb moisture from the soil, "competing" with seedlings. Peat cassettes are more expensive than plastic and paper.Plastic cassettes can be used for several years and do not take up much space during storage. Peat cassettes are made from natural material, and within a month they completely disintegrate in the soil.
3. Peat tablets
Peat pills are produced on the basis of compressed small-fraction peat, saturated with nutrients, growth stimulants and fungicides. The tablets are wrapped with special fiber. The diameter of peat tablets is from 2.5 to 9 cm. Peat tablets are able to maintain an optimal level of acidity (pH = 5.4-6.2), which is optimal for most plants. In order for the tablets to “start working”, they are placed in a container of water. After absorbing moisture, the tablets become almost 5 times higher, and their diameter does not change. On the top of the tablets are special recesses for seeds.
Pros of growing seedlings in peat tablets
Optimum conditions are created for seed germination. They retain moisture well. They are suitable for germination of plants with “small” seedlings (petunia, lobelia, wild strawberries) and for plants that do not tolerate transplantation (poppies, gypsophila, hellebore). In peat tablets 8 or 9 cm in size, seedlings of cucumbers, zucchini, and watermelons can be grown. When transplanting seedlings into the garden, the plants are not taken out of the tablet.
Cons of growing seedlings in peat tablets
High prices. On wet tablets, mold can sometimes appear. Pills with a large diameter are still "too small" for growing peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant. Before a tablet with seedlings is transferred to the garden, it is advisable to remove the non-woven material, which is not always easy to do, for example, if the root system has already grown greatly.After absorbing moisture, peat tablets become almost 5 times higher, and their diameter does not change.
4. Coconut Pills
Coconut tablets (“coco soil”) are made from pressed coconut material (70% coconut peat and 30% coconut flakes and fibers) and are also saturated with nutrients, growth stimulants and special antibacterial substances that protect plants.
Coconut tablets are able to maintain the optimal level of acidity (pH = 5.4-6.2), suitable for most plants. The tablets have a porous structure and are saturated with air, which is very important for the cultivated seedlings. The tablet is wrapped with a special protective net of non-woven material.
Interestingly, coconut peat is obtained from crushed coconut peel, which undergoes special fermentation for 15-18 months, then long-term drying and pressing under high pressure.
A dry coconut tablet has a light brown or sand color, and moistened with water is dark brown. The diameter of coconut tablets is from 2.5 cm (suitable for growing petunias, wild strawberries) to 8 cm (suitable for growing cucumbers, zucchini, watermelons). A coconut tablet quickly grows in size after placing it in about 40 ml of warm water. On the top of the tablet is a hole for the seeds.
The benefits of growing seedlings in coconut tablets
The right environment for seed germination is created. Coconut tablets provide active formation of the root system of seedlings and contain substances that prevent the appearance of pathogenic bacteria, fungi, and weeds. Seedlings with the tablet are transferred to the garden. Coconut fiber retains moisture for a long time.
Cons of growing seedlings in coconut tablets
High prices. Sometimes mold appears on wet tablets. The volume of soil, even in tablets with a large diameter, is insufficient for growing tomatoes, peppers, eggplant. It’s inconvenient to remove the protective mesh, which will clearly inhibit the growth of the root system.Coconut tablets, ("coco soil") are made from pressed coconut material.
5. Plastic and peat pots
In plastic and peat pots you can grow any crops, the main thing is to choose the right size.
The advantages of growing seedlings in plastic pots
What is the difference between round and square containers? It is more convenient to fill round plastic pots with earth, and seedlings from them "roll over" much easier, and square pots are much more compact and do not take up extra space on the windowsill.
The pots are made of thick plastic, which is convenient for transporting seedlings and protects the roots from injury during rotation to provide better illumination. The plastic is opaque, this contributes to the normal development of the root system. Pots can be reused. Square pots are more convenient for storage until the next sowing of seedlings.
Round storage pots take up a lot of space.It is convenient to transport seedlings in plastic pots.
The advantages of growing seedlings in peat pots
Peat pots are made of porous material, which 70-80% consists of peat and 20-30% of paper or cardboard. The walls of the pots are porous, they pass air well, which contributes to good root formation. It is convenient to transfer the seedlings to the ground with a pot, which quickly decays.
Cons of growing seedlings in peat pots
The earth dries out quickly enough in peat pots, after which it begins to become denser, lagging in places from the edge of the pot, which always badly affects the root system of seedlings. The most common watering often leads to mold on the walls of the pots. With abundant watering, the soil in the pot changes its structure, becomes "jelly-like".
By the time the seedlings are transferred to the beds, the pots almost completely lose their strength. There is another extreme: sometimes the composition of the material from which the pot is made includes up to 35% of the pressed cardboard, and in this case it is impossible for the plant already transferred to the garden to break through the dense walls.
Knowing this, many gardeners before planting seedlings additionally cut the walls of the pot, unwittingly violating the integrity of the root system.
High prices for quality peat pots are also their disadvantage.The high cost of peat pots is one of their drawbacks.
6. Containers for seedlings from used plastic containers
Disposable cups of various volumes, cut plastic bottles, plastic containers for ice cream, cakes, dairy products.
The advantages of growing seedlings in containers made of plastic containers
A large selection of containers of any size, and all of them do not require additional financial costs. Seedlings are easily taken out together with an earthen lump.
Cons of growing seedlings in containers made of plastic containers
Transparent walls do not allow the root system to develop normally, which occurs only in the absence of light. Do not forget to make drainage holes.
7. Egg Containers
In the first stages of growing seedlings, there is no need to use large containers. Egg containers successfully replace small cassettes, but one must remember to make drainage holes. Cells can be easily cut in the right amount. Use both plastic and paper containers.
Paper containers are very convenient to use if you need to sow crops that do not like transplanting and plant directly with a cell in the ground or in a pot of the right size. Egg containers are used when planting leaf celery, wild strawberries, poppies, hellebores, chrysanthemums.
Cons of growing seedlings in egg containers
Paper containers are not durable and it is important to transfer the seedlings with the cell to the pot on time or directly to the ground. Carefully control the humidity of the earth in the container.
8. Do-it-yourself paper cups
A capacity for seedlings can be made independently, for example, from waste paper (it is not recommended to use colored newspapers). Newspaper sheets are folded in three to four layers, wrapped around a glass bottle or metal box of a suitable size. The obtained cylinder fixes the edges with paper clips. All cooked cylinders are placed close to each other in a shallow container. In such cups it is convenient to grow lettuce seedlings and transfer them directly to the garden bed or to a larger pot with them.Seedlings from used plastic containers do not require any financial costs. Egg containers successfully replace small cassettes. Capacity for seedlings can be made from almost any paper.
Optimum capacities for seedlings of certain crops
They pour earth into the boxes (layer 7-8 cm), lay out the seeds and sprinkle with sand. After 3-4 weeks, at the stage of two real leaves, seedlings are dived, placing either again in a box at a distance of 4x4 cm, or in cassettes with cells of 3x4 cm.
Strawberry seeds are usually expensive and there are always several pretty small seeds in the package, so it’s better to use peat or coconut tablets. “Hatching” strawberry seeds are transferred to the indentations on the top of a well-moistened tablet. The tablets are placed in a container and covered with a film or lid.
Tomato seeds are sown in boxes about two months before transplanting. After the appearance of the first two true leaves, the plants dive into separate pots (8x8 cm). After about three weeks, a second pick is carried out in larger pots (12x17 cm).
Corn seeds are sown by hatching, about 25 days before planting on the beds. Corn has a very complex root system and does not like transplantation. Its main roots (usually from 20 to 30) go to a depth of more than two meters. Interestingly, at the very beginning of the development of the plant, these roots form and grow as horizontal. They are very fragile and do not recover after breaking off.
Therefore, when growing seedlings and transplanting them, one should not disturb the root system. In addition, the corn root system has increased aeration requirements. Therefore, for growing seedlings, peat pots of large size (9x9 cm or 11x11 cm) are suitable. Four seeds are placed in each one to a depth of 3-4 cm. After the appearance of the third leaf, only one plant is left in the pot. About twenty days after sowing, the corn is ready for planting in the garden.