5 effective top dressing for seedlings
One of the most important rules for growing strong and healthy seedlings is the presence of the “correct” soil mixture. Usually, gardeners for growing seedlings use two options: either purchased soil mix, or made independently of several components. And in fact, and in another case, the fertility of the soil for seedlings, to put it mildly, is doubtful. In this article we will talk about simple and effective top dressing for seedlings.
Why does the soil for seedlings lack nutrition?
The soil mixture in which you will sow seeds for seedlings should be:
- Loose so that tiny and delicate roots can easily grow without encountering obstacles;
- It is good to retain moisture and air, because the roots both “drink” and “breathe”;
- Sterile, from the point of view of the absence of larvae and eggs of insect pests in it, spores of diseases and weed seeds;
This last point should be dealt with separately.
I must say that purchased substrates, with all their convenience, do not have a high content of macro- and microelements needed for small shoots. This is explained, in my opinion, simply. The producer does not need to invest additional costs, because each of the crops grown has its own characteristics and requirements. It is easier to produce not enriched, but universal mixture.
When compiling soil mixtures independently, the main component responsible for fertility, as a rule, is our native land from the site. Someone is richer in nutrient content, someone is poorer. But mixed with peat, sand and other fillers, its fertility is still not enough to grow strong seedlings (unless you have black earth on the site).
How to feed seedlings?
To provide sufficient seedlings for seedlings, you can use at least 5 options for effective dressing. But it is worth mentioning that it is possible to provide seedlings nutrition at the stage of soil preparation, including nutritional supplements in its composition. You can use rotted manure, chicken droppings or compost. But it’s worthwhile to make such mixtures ahead of time, and I’m afraid that not everyone will like the smell coming from such seedlings in the house.
A great option is vermicompost, a waste product of various worms. In its effectiveness, it surpasses manure and compost several times, due to the presence of enzymes, vitamins, soil antibiotics, growth hormones and other biologically active substances. Naturally, a good biohumus is free from the spores of diseases, pests and weeds. Moreover, plants, even small ones, immediately react to it, and the seeds germinate faster.
But if you did not saturate the soil for seedlings with nutrients in advance, you can feed your plants in one of the following five ways.
1. Organic fertilizers
I repeat, the smell in the house (after all, you most likely keep seedlings on the windowsill) may not appeal to households. Take one part (by volume) of chicken (quail or granular) manure or manure and stir with the same volume of water. Let the mixture wander, or, in the case of granular bird droppings, insist - 2-3 days. Again, I note, it all happens in the warmth of your home.
The resulting mixture immediately before feeding seedlings should be diluted with water. For bird droppings, the ratio is 1:12, for manure - 1: 8. True, phosphorus is not enough in this mixture, so superphosphate should be added. 1 tablespoon per 10 liters of finished fertilizer.
However, just so you will not dissolve superphosphate in water. It is dissolved separately in hot water and insisted for several hours, and then added to organic top dressing. Agree that at the same time and, in addition to the smell, there are many inconveniences.
2. Extract from vermicompost
As an option of organic top dressing, we use an extract from biohumus - vermicompost tea. A better ready-made liquid concentrate of biohumus, sold in garden and flower shops. Top dressing is excellent in every way. And environmentally friendly, and contains all macro- and microelements, enzymes, humic substances. And all this in an accessible form for seedlings.
3. Mineral fertilizers
We use mineral fertilizers. I must say right away that if you grow vegetables and are happy for the “purity” of fruits, then you should not worry. From feeding seedlings to harvesting time is still a lot. And to grow seedlings strong and by the right time - this is really important!
And here, in order to save myself from unnecessary troubles, measurements and weighings, I recommend using ready-made universal mineral fertilizers, moreover, water-soluble. They contain all the necessary complex of macro- (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) and trace elements (iron, zinc, boron, magnesium copper, molybdenum, etc.). And often also supplements of vitamins B1, B6, PP, C, which increase stress resistance, as well as succinic acid - a growth stimulator.
Such a rich menu allows the plant from the first days to not lack anything and grow well, and most importantly - to build a powerful root system. If such a complex fertilizer is also water-soluble, then you will not have any extra troubles. They poured a measuring spoon into the bucket, poured water (according to the instructions, of course), mixed and you can water the seedlings. And such fertilizer “works” immediately, because microelements are in an easily digestible chelate form.
As a type of mineral fertilizer, you can use special preparations under the general name "rooting agents". They also contain all the necessary set of macro- and microelements, vitamins, root formation stimulants, and even a fungicidal component, which is very important for seedlings. We all remember what damage the "black leg" and the other "mold" are doing.
5. Special mineral fertilizers for seedlings
The difference between special mineral fertilizers for seedlings and universal fertilizers is the high content of macrocells of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
When to feed seedlings?
When is it worth feeding seedlings? To begin with, before sowing seeds, you can shed the soil with any of the proposed options. But still it’s worth doing it in advance, for ten days. Let all physicochemical processes “settle down” there by the time of sowing the seeds.
Then top dressing is done after the appearance of the second true leaf. It was at this moment that the plant ran out of nutrients from the seed and completely switched to food with its own, small roots. Well, then once every 7-10 days or according to the instructions for fertilizer.
Let me remind you that with seedlings you need to be very careful. It is still too tender, these are not adult plants, and therefore all these top dressings should in no case fall on leaves and stems. Before top dressing, the soil should be moist.
And the most important thing! Power, temperature and lighting are three highly interrelated parameters. If you start regularly feeding your seedlings at the appropriate temperature (above +20 degrees), then it will grow intensively.
What about light? In February, the sun rises at 8 o’clock and sets at 17. Even on the south window, there will be little light; seedlings need at least 14 hours. So it turns out that these dressings will not benefit her, but to the detriment - she will stretch out, and you are unlikely to save her. It will be seedlings lost, no, seedlings ruined by your own hands.
Yes, there are ways to stop its growth - to reduce the temperature. In realities, this means living with an open window in February – March. Do you agree? If not, then be sure to equip additional lighting for your seedlings.
Is it possible to refuse top dressing?
A couple of important, in my opinion, comments.
If you grow seedlings of vegetable crops or flowering annuals, then she really needs top dressing, because the result needs a quick one-season result. If, however, this is a seedling of perennial crops, then it is not worth feeding, at least often. Perennial cultures do not have the task of “giving their best” in the first season, they have a long life and they must develop normally and slowly.
When choosing one or another feeding, one should also take into account one’s comfort. If you are a busy and working person, then use modern complex fertilizers that are easy to prepare. If the infield is your whole life, then you can “conjure” it with fertilizing, taking a closer look and analyzing what seedlings are missing at the moment.
If your seedlings grow well and develop, and in general, looks great, maybe you do not need to feed her?
Good luck and good harvests!