Event though it's been a week since the last post, activity in the garden has not slowed in the least. I've been busy starting just a few seeds each week and then, after a couple of weeks indoors, planting them into the coldframes.
One of the casulties of starting very small seeds (like lettuce) is that, due to germination rates, more seeds have to be started than what one actually needs. Often, 2 or three seeds are started in the same pot knowing all the while that only one will actually take.
Sometimes, though, more than one seed makes it!
Typically, the the strongest seedling is saved and the other, weaker plants are pulled out and discarded (known as pricking out).
There is, however, another way...
Enter the widger
This is an age-old and brilliantly simple tool that allows a grower to carefully transfer tiny seedlings from one pot to another. Here's how it works:
Use the tool to open a small hole in a transplant pot
Carefully work the tool around the seedling being sure to leave a little dirt around the roots
While applying light pressure with the tool and a finger, lift the seedling with a little dirt out of the first pot...
...and place it into the hole in the transplant pot
And then there were two!
Be sure to sprinkle a little dirt around the newly transplanted seedling as well as in the hole that it left in the original pot.
Know that movina seedling in this way, if done carefully, will not hurt it. It will feel some shock for a bit, though, so water it carefully and give it a little adjustment time before planting it outside.
This process, while not terribly time consuming for the home gardener, would not be practical for a commercial grower (hence resorting to pulling extra seedlings out). When the home grower is only seeding a few plants at a time, however, this can be a wonderful way to save seeds!