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Congratulations! Your seeds sprouted! And you are now the proud parent of umpteen little green youngsters brandishing their first crisp young leaves and yearning to move upward and onward in life. Thanks to your TLC, your crop of seedlings is poised for a graduation, especially if you sowed your seeds into a “community pot.” Those little fellas need room of their own.

So here’s the next step: As soon as seedlings begin developing a set of “real” leaves beyond the initial baby leaves (cotyledons) that sprouted when they first broke the soil, they are ready to be repotted. Don’t wait long, because crowding can be a killer for seedlings. Plus, you want to divide these little guys when their roots are easily separated and haven’t grown into a tangle. So take action quickly and transplant ASAP.

Breaking Up 

The first step is to break your seedlings apart. Your goal is to perform that feat painlessly, so everyone’s roots are intact without tearing the life support system from neighboring plantlets. The good news is that the soil is on your side. If you sowed your seeds in Coast of Maine Sprout Island Blend Seed Starter, the soil will readily break apart to separate seedling roots without snarling—and that’s crucial. What you want to do is moisten the soil lightly, then liberate a section of seedlings from the container, and tease their roots gently free from their neighbors.

Survival of the Fittest

We know: Sometimes you sow wayyyy more seeds than you need in your garden. So now is the time to select the strongest seedlings with the most robust root systems to nurture on through the next level. If a seedling looks spindly, skip it in favor of a seedling that looks like an achiever. Don’t worry if the stem is a little long and leggy, you will be potting to the neck of the first leaves, so spindly stems will be buried.

Room of its Own or a Cluster of Buddies

Seedlings need more space beyond a crowded community pot to perform, it’s true. But not all seedlings need to be potted individually. Sometimes a cluster of seedlings becomes a better final product. How to decide? Consider the end result. If you are growing a cabbage or tomato, for example, you want one robust plant without competition between buddies fighting for sun and space. So you’ll want to place only one seedling per pot. On the other hand, if you are growing arugula, spinach or baby lettuce, for example, a little cluster of seedlings will provide the best finished product. In the flower realm, each robust nasturtium, zinnia, sunflower, and hyacinth bean seedling should be potted singly. Whereas cosmos, pansies, and dianthus can be tucked two or three seedlings per container. Think about the final product and pot accordingly.

Get Ready, Get Set, Pot Up!

Now for the dirty deed. First you need great soil to receive your seedlings. We recommend Coast of Maine Bar Harbor Blend Organic Potting Soil for this step and moisten the soil. Use a small seedling pot – a 2 ½-inch to 3-inch container should do the trick. Fill the pot halfway with soil and then tuck the seedling in, filling all around with soil so the roots are nestled in a nice fluffy bed. Firm the soil down all around the roots—that’s really important. Tamp the soil down and firm again. And then water the seedling and give it indirect light for a few days while that baby is acclimating to its new digs. Continue watering regularly when you move your new graduate to brighter light. Hooray! You are on the way to a bountiful growing season ahead!

Written by award winning author, Tovah Martin.  Photos also taken by Tovah Martin.  Find her books and more information on her website:

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