5 | Transplanting Seedlings

by Francois

Preparing for seedling transplanting

Before you transplant your seedlings, first ensure that their permanent space is ready for them. We have previously covered the aspects of the quality of your soil and it should now already be optimally prepared for plant growth. If you have not prepared your planting space, head over to the Soil Preparation guide for more information on how to prepare your soil. Or simply watch the complete step-by-step video guide on making a raised bed and transplanting seedlings.



In the Planning section of the journal we briefly touched on plant spacing and how the different spacing requirements of each plant will determine how far they are planted from their neighbours. You can now use that information when transplanting your seedlings. It is important to give each seedling their required space.



Before you start transplanting your seedlings, make sure your space is completely free of weeds, it has sufficient moisture and that you have the following at hand:

  • A knife or similar size tool (for making planting holes)
  • A chopstick (just in case)
  • Pre-diluted liquid fertiliser

Transplanting Procedure

When you are ready to transplant your seedlings:

  1. Water the trays that you are about to transplant, making sure each cell is wet all the way to the bottom.
  2. Make the required number of holes (according to the spacing guidelines) using the knife or similar tool, creating a rectangular shape that is not too shallow nor too deep, but just the correct depth that the whole cell fits into the hole (you can make it slightly deeper as some soil from the sides will settle at the bottom).
  3. Spray each hole with fertiliser ensuring you cover the sides and the bottom of the hole.
  4. Carefully remove the seedling from its cell by gently pulling at the base of the stem of the seedling. Don’t pull too hard, but it should come loose from the tray fairly easily. If you find that it is stuck, use a chopstick and gently push the soil block from underneath using the thick end of the chopstick, while pulling at the base of the stem on the other side.
  5. Place the seedling in the hole, but at the correct depth so that when the cell from the tray fits in the hole, the seedling stem is neither buried in soil, nor are there any roots exposed above the soil level. The soil from the seedling should be level with the soil around it.
  6. Make sure that there are no gaps between the side of the hole and the seedling’s roots by pushing soli towards the roots from all sides.
  7. Last, but not least, water the seedling again with the fertiliser so that you are sure that the soil settles snugly around the root ball – there shouldn’t be any large air pockets where roots are exposed to air, otherwise they will die.

*After germination, sufficient moisture is key, but too much might be detrimental to your seedlings.
* Seedlings growing in trays need to be fed with a fertiliser on a weekly basis.
* Excess nutrients and moisture will lead to algae and mold growth – keep an eye out and adjust your feeding and watering schedule accordingly.
* Damping off disease if a disease that is detrimental to seedlings. If you catch it early, you might save them. Be careful to not let it spread to adjacent trays and sanitise your trays properly before using them again.
* When your seedlings are ready to go into their permanent home, plan to transplant them in the cool of the day and when they will be spared from the scorching sun for a couple of days.
* Plan your planting space and transplanting according to the spacing requirements of your seedlings.
* Make sure your space is prepared and you have everything you need to transplant at hand.
* Hydrate and feed your seedlings before and after transplanting and limit the exposure of their roots to air.


Well done! Your seedlings are now safely tucked into their new homes, ready to set root and flourish! Remember, they are stil reliant on you to make sure they have enough water to help them grown. Head on over to our Growing On entry to see how you can help them get established.


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