- Identify ways to care for seedlings
- Describe conditions that compromise the health of seedlings
Germinating seeds is relatively easy given that there are but two or three outside forces that serve as catalysts in the process, namely temperature, moisture, and sometimes light. Caring for well-established plants in the garden is also rather straightforward as they are typically strong enough to fight most of their own battles with pests or the elements on their own.
But seedlings are in the lurch, caught between childhood and adulthood, in a state of flux not all that dissimilar to puberty one could argue. They’re growing up, having formed true leaves of their own, but not yet strong enough to take on the world themselves. It is during this middle stage, that awkward one where they can “grow like weeds” and develop a spindly frame, that they need a caring hand.
Learning to nurture seedlings into robust transplants is one of the more critical skills a gardener can develop.
Teach the Teacher
Tools & Materials
- Trays of seedlings
- Cardboard or electric fan
- 3” or 4” Pots
- Damping off
- Potting up
- Hardening off
Introduction (10 minutes)
Begin the lesson with a review of the various ways to foster the growth of seedlings. Describe the chronology of care starting with fanning, thinning, and potting up. Then describe what will need to happen when the seedlings are ready for fertilizing, potting up, and hardening off to prepare them for transplanting.
Activity (20 minutes)
Have the Students fan the young starts with a piece of cardboard. The force of the wind should be enough to sway the seedlings but not so much that it bends them over. This can be done multiple times each day. Alternatively, an electric fan can be used after the lesson is completed. As the seedlings develop, work though each of the methods described in the Seedling Care article with the Students. Watering and fanning are functions that should be performed regularly.
Discussion (10 minutes)
What signs should we look for? How will we know when to water? What signs indicate that the plants aren’t getting enough light?
Assessment (5 minutes)
Use the following questions to assess the Students before and after the lesson. Tally the responses of the group in the Assessment Tracking Log for comparison:
- By a show of hands, who believes that caring for seedlings in just like caring for mature plants?
- By a show of hands, who believes they can describe the special needs that seedlings have?
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