Seedlings that are not growing as rapidly, yellowing of lower leaves and overall not looking healthy can be signs of root bound plants, nitrogen deficiency, insect infestation or a soil mix that needs an aeration component. Since the weather for most of us has been cooler than normal, moving them outside has not been possible for many of the more fragile plants.
This brings up the subject of transplant media ( yes add a little nitrogen at this point, I use Espoma Plant-tone alfalfa meal). In fact I use Plant-tone fertilizers for all of the NPK amendments – Alfalfa meal (N-nitrogen), Rock Phosphate (P-phosphorous), and Greensand (K-Potassium).
Soil Media for Transplants
- 4 parts (qt) coco coir
- 4 parts (qt) peat moss
- 2 T rock phosphate granules, finely ground with a mortar and pestle
- 2T greensand
- 1 part (qt) worm compost
- 2 T alfalfa meal or blood meal
- 1 part (qt) perlite * (optional) for aeration
Insects are the other problem of overgrown plant seedlings. Somehow the bugs or insects know when your plants are root bound and you can’t move them outside.
I have had some insect problems with my peppers, tomatoes and basil but neem oil and Dr Bronner’s soap have turned them around. Lightly spray the young plants under the leaves as well as on the leaves nearly every day at the sign of infestation. The neem oil solution is as follows:
Neem Oil Solution for Quart/Liter Spray Bottle
- Fill a quart bottle 3/4 full with lukewarm water then add:
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp neem oil (pure cold pressed not the extract- check bottle)
- 1/2- 1 tsp Dr Bronner’s non-scented castile liquid soap
- Fill to top with water and shake to bring neem oil and soap into solution
Compaction of the soil media is another problem that appears with larger seedlings. For example when they are watered the mix doesn’t dry out as efficiently which in turn traps the water around the plant roots. Perlite added to the soil mix will lessen the effect by creating voids or spaces around the roots – the purpose of aeration amendments.
Hopefully in a few weeks I can acclimate the transplants and plant everything outside. They always grow so well once they have natural sunlight and are in the garden soil.
As I write my potatoes are “chitting” that is developing sprouts, although I’ll let the sprouts grow larger before I plant them. Recently my onion starts arrived too but that’s for another day. Until next time.