As soon as you plant seeds in the ground, you start tending to your future plant and waiting for next stages of development. If you followed our advice and took proper care of the seeds you have planted, in just seven to ten days you will see the first sign of “awakening” of your plant, and this makes it all worth your while.

Author: Danijela Despotovic

How to grow a healthy and resistant seedling? Each stage of plant development is very important, and a seedling that you are growing now will turn into a plant that will be yielding many healthy and tasty vegetables down the line.

The time it takes a seed to develop into a seedling depends on the variety itself – lettuce takes 20 to 30 days, cucumber 20-25 days, whereas tomato and pepper take as much as 50-70 days from the moment of sowing to the time seedlings are ready to be transplanted into the ground.

The first leaves you will see emerging from the soil are called cotyledons, and they look the same with all plants. Cotyledons are then replaced with true leaves of the plant you are growing

Using fertilizer is desirable, it makes your seedling strong and resistant to external influences and potential diseases (fungal and bacterial diseases typical for seedlings) and helps it develop properly.

When it comes to liquid organic fertilizers, feeding is done by sprinkling over the leaves or by using a water can. The feeding preempts problems that could prevent your seedlings from developing into a healthy plant.

How to recognize a problem with seedling?

– If you notice that your seedlings are yellow, pale green color or brown spots start to appear, this may be a result of excessive watering or sunburn (if the plant was directly exposed to sun and the soil below was humid due to overwatering).

– The most common reason for seedlings becoming elongated and weak is lack of light, so it would be best to simply place them elsewhere

– If the seed-starting soil is turning green, it again goes back to too much moisture, ie. excessive watering

How do you know if you are watering your plant properly?

You can assess whether the plant is receiving too much or too little water by simply lifting the container with seedlings in it. If the container is heavy and you can see that the substrate below is damp, you have overdone it in the watering department. On the other hand, the container whose soil is drained tends to feel lightweight, so this might suggest that it is the right time for watering.

When two or more true leaves appear, it means that the seedling has developed sufficiently and it is time to transplant into larger pots where the plant will have more room to develop before it gets transplanted again to a finishing pot.

Once you have prepared the pots where the seedlings are to be transplanted, the first thing you do is carefully lift the seedling out of the container together with the soil – it might help if you hold down the plastic bottom of the container. You will see for yourself that even though you put three seeds per each container, in some of them only one plant has developed, whereas in others all three seeds have germinated and three seedlings have been formed. If there’s more than one seedling growing in a single container – simply separate them. And don’t worry, you won’t do much damage by gently teasing the roots apart.

The next step is to place some soil at the bottom of the designated pots, then place the seedling onto the soil. The whole root system and a small, lower part of the stem go inside the pot, which is then filled with soil all the way to the top. In order for the seedling to be centered and upright, press down the soil lightly with your fingers, and then top it up with a little substrate to fill the cavity.

After the repotting, you need to do one more thing – water your plant immediately. The golden rule from here on out is – water late in the evening or early in the morning, never in the full glare of the midday sun, as high temperature causes additional stress to the plant.

Only when four to ten true leaves sprout up can we say that the seedling is ready to be transplanted to soil, or, in this case, repotted into the final pot where the plant will grow until harvest.

In our climate, transplanting generally takes place from mid-April to mid-May, depending on the weather, but if you are growing seedlings on your balcony, you can start in early April already, because you can bring seedlings indoors and protect them from the cold or heavy rainfall.

In cooperation with the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro, La Organica shot a series of short instructional videos on how to grow a small garden on your balcony in a simple and fun way and the episode about growing healthy seedlings can be found here. The best thing all of us can do right now is stay home and enjoy this useful hobby.