NOTE: Please read Anticipating Spring and Spring, Part II blogs beforehand.
Patience, persistence and a bit of luck will yield a great crop is the ninth step. Fertilize with half the amount needed for regular houseplants or it may burn the seedling. Be very careful to fertilize only every two or three weeks. Consider the seedling to be like a small human infant – too much too fast will harm it. You have to wait until the seedling grows large enough to transplant and that the outside conditions are warm enough. Soil temperature is what counts. A couple 80-degree days mean nothing if the soil is still 45 degrees. Let the soil warm and keep the plant inside.
The tenth step is letting the seedling “harden off” outside before you plant it. I place my seedlings on the unheated porch for about a week before I take them outside. The porch has windows so it warms up during the day and doesn’t drop below 50 on a late spring/early summer night. Depending upon the seedling, 50 or 60 degrees is the lowest it can stand. You don’t want to kill the plant after months of work. A couple days before I plant the seedling, I place it near the spot I will place it in the ground. It will become accustomed to the setting.
Finally, place the seedling into the ground. Don’t mess up the roots too much or they will break off. You should only disturb the roots if the seedling is “root bound” as in the roots are compacted in the container and have started weaving through each other like a mesh. Gently disturb the bottom half of the roots to fan them out a bit. Gently place the seedling into the soil and treat with care. With good weather, you’ll grow a fabulous crop.
Accurate information can be procured from the local Extension Service (in the US). You can contact your county representative to speak to a Master Gardner or link to their website. Many colleges have accurate information on-line and there are many books in the library. You should check with folks who live in your area. Oftentimes, they will have free or cheap classes to attend. Unless the local garden center is staffed by a horticulturalist, be wary of the advice they offer. It may be an opinion and not based in fact. I have taken classes and read a lot but a lot depends upon the humidity and angle of the sun. It is good to test your soil; too, it may show the need to add something to improve your crop. You can always buy small plants from the garden center if the seeds don’t grow adequately.
Grow Seeds Grow!