Rule number one with seedlings is: handle them with care! Multicell punnets are great because the root system of each plant is nicely contained in its own little pocket of soil, so there’s less chance of disturbing the roots. Before planting, soak the punnet in a shallow tray of water for five minutes.
Soaking the punnet in water helps to hold the mix together, which is especially important if the roots haven’t yet filled the cell. Use a dibber or trowel to make planting holes. Carefully tip the punnet upside down and gently squeeze the cells to ease out the plugs, one at a time, then place them in the holes. Lightly firm them in, then water.
Keep the plantings coming
Plant seedlings of edible plants regularly so you always have something to pick, with more plants coming on to replace the spent crops. The best vegies for succession planting are the ones your household might use a lot, such as asian greens, lettuce, rocket, radish, beans, beetroot, carrot, green onion and coriander. It helps to do a little planning. If your household uses two or three lettuces a fortnight, then plant a punnet of six seedlings every month or so. It takes a little trial and error – sometimes you have a glut, other times not enough – but you eventually get into the swing of it.
Feed and water
A gentle flow from a watering can is the best way to water tiny seedlings. They may fall over but will pick themselves up. Most vegies are short-lived, fast-growing plants that hate drying out, so check them regularly. Simply plunge a finger into the soil; if it feels dry, apply more water. These rapid growers need nutritional support, too, and using a liquid fertiliser is a good way to provide this. Apply once a fortnight, following the dilution rate on the pack. Keep up the watering and feeding, and you’ll grow great vegies.
You’ll find plenty of practical tips for growing vegies and herbs, including green peas, turnips and English spinach, in the May 2020 issue of ABC Gardening Australia magazine, out now.
And if you missed last month’s step-by-step guide to setting up the easiest vegie patch ever, you can order the April 2020 issue from our back issues.