the term used for transplanting young seedlings into pots is called pricking out. i don’t know why, that just what it’s called. whenever the phase prick out is uttered at work co-worker kadri starts to sing a rendition of chic’s le freak substituting the freak out choruses with prick out.
pricking out tends to worry folks. particularly i think it’s because it involves handling young plants, and people are always worried that they are gonna kill them. i like to remind folks of how much more resilient we are when we are young. pricking out is pretty simple and easy if you just follow good practices.
most folks recommend pricking out once the first true leaves appear. i find that by that point the plants are too big, and root systems too well-developed. it is actually much easier to prick out once the cotyledons are fully formed but before the true leaves appear, or are just appearing. to remove the seedling from the germ tray i use a blunt pencil or a chop sick to get underneath the seedlings roots and gently lift it up while i grasp the seedling by its leaves with my other hand. often seedlings roots are tangled together, and i use the chop stick to work them apart. it’s important to handle the seedling by its leaves, as if you break off the leaves, no big deal, it will regrow, but if you break off the stem, no good.
then it’s just a matter of putting it in its place. you can drill a little hole in the pot it’s going in, and then drop it in place and close the soil around it. or like in this image, you can just press the roots down into the soil. ideally if you can you want to push them down as low as you can, so that the leaves are just above the soil surface. the idea being to grow nice stocky plants not leggy ones.
the last step and perhaps the most important is to water the little transplants in. using a gentle stream of water fully saturate the tray. this is one of the few occasions you can’t really over water. the bigger danger is not watering enough . when you are doing this, it’s not just about watering the plants, but also making sure you are getting good soil contact all around the roots, and keeping them moist while they get used to their new home.