The reason I’ve grouped Boot Camp Day 16 (Seed-Starting) and Day 17 (Seedling Transplanting) together is because I wrote about seed starting already on Day 14, and besides, they’re pretty closely related.
So a quick review: if you’re sowing outdoors, make sure the seeds stay moist. That’s pretty much it.
If you’re sowing indoors, you need strong light (remember my friend with LOTS of windows in a west facing room), constant moisture– the seed starting medium will dry out faster indoors than outdoors, a bit of a breeze from a fan will help prevent fungal disease commonly called “damping off”, and you might want to consider underneath heat from a heating pad, the fluorescent light fixture, or a seed starting mat.
I haven’t made any mention of seed starting medium (except a second ago): I use Jiffy pellets for convenience.
I don’t recommend using peat/paper/coir pots (which in theory are meant to be planted whole), unless you are very careful to make sure the whole pot is buried in soil, and no portion of it is peaking over the soil. If it is peaking out of the soil, that edge will dry out and wick up all the moisture in the pot, making it difficult to keep the soil immediately around the root moist. Ask me how I know this… And of course, you’re only doing a small vegetable garden to start with, to maximize your success and gratification.
Moving on to transplanting your little guys:
[I’ve been enjoying watching Charles Dowding on Youtube. This vid is on transplanting.]
The main thing about getting your seedlings from where they started to where they’ll finish is “transplant shock”. Outside it’s colder, windier, brighter, and possibly in the middle of the day, hotter, than where the seedlings have been for several weeks. Think of a newborn baby! (Maybe a slight exaggeration…)
Most seedlings, and maybe all seedlings should be “hardened off” before actually being planted in the ground. I’ve read that you should take at least a week to gradually acclimate them to the outdoors, starting in a sheltered place for an hour or so and building up to full time in the kind of exposure they’ll live in. Mine go to the back veranda– bright but not direct sun, close to the house, so not too windy, and I start with 2 hours, go to 4 , then 6 etc.
When it’s time to finally time to get them in the ground, follow Garden Tribes instructions, and they’ll be happy as clams. And don’t forget, (Charles Dowding mentions it as well) don’t be afraid to plant your vegetable transplants deeper than they are in the starting medium.