Daily Express

SPOTLIGHT ON... Seedlings

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Once your seedlings grow they will need more space, so will want pricking out. Prepare some small pots or a seed tray by filling them with multipurpo­se compost.

Level off the top and tap down as before, then use a pencil or a six-inch length of split cane as a “dibber” – a seedling transplant­ing tool.

Holding it like a pencil, wiggle the tip underneath a seedling to gently loosen it from its nursery pot, then very gently lift it out by one of its leaves.

Never grab seedlings roughly by the stem because it bruises them and they will die off.

Then use the dibber to make a small, slightly cone-shaped hole in the new pot or tray and lower the roots of your seedling into it. Keep lowering until the leaves are just above the surface of the compost then use the dibber to close the hole round the root and gently firm the seedlings in.

When you only need a few seedlings of one kind, it’s easiest to shift them into small individual pots, but when you want a dozen or more, it’s best to put them in seed trays.

Water them – the short soak method works best – and put them back on the windowsill.

Once they’ve found their feet, you can water with your usual small indoor houseplant can and after six weeks, start adding a few drops of liquid tomato feed once a week. Turn them round occasional­ly to keep them growing straight, and by mid-May you’ll have good plants ready to plant out.

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