When To Transplant Seedlings From Seed Tray

Reader Contribution by Bryan Traficante
Published on February 28, 2017
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by Adobestock/dnieriss
Growing vegetable crops in wooden raised beds in the spring season in a personal farm. Gardener's gloved hands plant a sprout in the ground with garden shovel in early spring.
Starting seedlings indoors gives you a jump-start, but determining when to transplant seedlings from seed trays will take knowing your plants.

If out of season or just fragile by nature, nurturing seedlings to maturity can be a difficult feat.  The first three to four weeks of any plant’s lifecycle is often the most delicate and that fact can be compounded upon by uncertainties with climate. However, these considerations and difficulties can be eased by harboring seedlings in a safer environment and then moving them to their permanent residence – in other words, transplanting.

Transplanting is the process of moving a plant from one growing medium to another. The process gives gardeners the ability to nurture a seedling in a safe and controlled environment, away from unexpected hot or cold spells or seedling hungry pests, so it can establish itself. The grower then takes the plant, slowly introduces it to the elements of its more permanent home (sun, rain, temperature fluctuations).

Along with providing safety from elements, transplanting is often used to extend the growing season of a plant so a gardener can have a head start on production. For example, tomatoes are fairly cold-weather sensitive. If your area advises to plant them in early April, but you get ambitious, plant them outdoors in mid-March and your area has an unexpected cold snap at the end of March, there’s a good chance your seedlings die causing you to start growing all-over again. However, ambitions can live on if you start the seedlings indoors in mid-March, let them grow in a more controlled environment, and wait to transplant them outdoors until the likelihood of a cold snap decreases.

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