Transplanting Your Seedlings Into Garden Flats- The Best Inserts To Choose
Your seedlings are up and ready for transplanting! Now you need to decide just how you want to care for your transplants.
There are many thoughts on how to do this. For years, I used the 6-packs that you usually find at the garden centers. However, I’ve always been told that this results in seedlings that are root-bound. Root-bound means the plants have run out of room for their roots.
The roots then look for the closet hole to escape! The roots will sneak out of the drainage holes and eventually fill up the bottom of your flat. As long as you keep the bottom of the flat moist, these roots (still attached to your plants) will continue to grow. As for the main container, there is little dirt left to hold moisture (too many roots) and will severely stunt your plants growth, either that or end in its demise. If you want vegetables, then take good care of your seedlings.
Over the years, I’ve attended many plant courses and conferences. I was told to never ever let your plant get root bound and to plant the seed in the pot that you intend to put outside, forgoing the transplant step. My technique of making little greenhouses for your seed starting makes this step difficult.
First I tried transplanting the seedlings into 3” round pots. That worked fairly well, but I grow hundreds of seedlings per year and individual pots weren’t convenient. Often I’d run out of extra pots or had pots of various sizes, all of which did not fit uniformly in my garden flat. I never did try just one seed per pot, but I do know that the germination of my old seeds is not 100 %. This means that I’d have flats with pots without plants; to me this means wasted space both in my flats and under my shop lights.
So this year, I’ve decided to try the 4-packs, called “804 Inserts”. These are a little larger than the 6-pack inserts, but they are uniform. I did plant some very root bound tomato plants last year and they made fruit just fine. I figured why not just pick in the middle of 6-packs and little pots and save myself a lot of trouble. That’s what I did. My 804 inserts are en-route and should arrive this week. Hint- If you want garden supplies, buy them now. Everyone tries to buy them at transplant time only to find out they’re out of stock!
For you old-timers, here are the Jiffy Pot inserts. I’ve never liked these, because I was never able to water them enough. I suppose if you’re home all the time and can be a little more attentive than I, then these should work just fine.