Buying vegetable seedlings

Buying vegetable seedlings how to choose

Buying vegetable seedlings often happens to those who cultivate the vegetable garden to find themselves buying seedlings in the nursery. The best thing is to have the seedlings born on your own starting from the seed, since it allows for economic savings and greater satisfaction, but when there is no time or you are a beginner, buying ready-made plants is a great convenience.

For those who are inexperienced, buying is a good way to start growing without too many complications, skipping the delicate embryonic phase of the plant, while those who have cultivated for a long time can do it out of laziness or for reasons of time, or because things did not go in the seedbed. for the right way.

To avoid scams, you need to know how to choose the plants at the time of purchase. Here are some simple criteria to recognize those ready to transplant, which will develop best in our garden.

How to distinguish a good seedling

Let’s see together what to look at when we are choosing the plant in the nursery.

First criterion: the bearing of the plant

This test is what everyone does: you try to assess the health of the plant from its posture. It is not difficult to recognize a plant that looks good when looking at it: the straight stem, with a beautiful structure and green leaves. The plants to buy must be well developed and robust.

However, this first criterion is not enough, because it simply certifies a temporary state of health. The plant must not only be healthy, but it must also be the right time for the transplant. A seedling kept too long in a seedbed will have suffered from a shortage of nutrients and available soil. Transplanting it will suffer shock and could adapt badly to the soil of the garden, in the worst case it can go to seed prematurely. For this it is necessary to understand how long the plant was born and if it is too developed to stay in the bread of the earth and it is also necessary to rely on other criteria.

Find out more about, How to dig the garden blogpost/ feed plants with algae blogpost.

Second criterion: the roots

The plants in the nursery grow in small containers, the space for the roots is very little, as well as the availability of nutrients. If we find trays where there are more roots than on earth we have to stay away from them. The examination of the roots of the seedling is simple: when the rootlets are many, all compressed, and above all twisted together, it means that it is a bit late for the transplant. Staying too long in the tray has produced many roots, but has also been stressed by the lack of space, better to buy smaller plants but at the correct age. In addition, you can also look at the color of the roots: the whiter they are, the healthier the plant is, to be avoided if the roots are brownish.

Examining the roots is always the best way to understand if a plant is of the right age to be transplanted, but it is not always possible to look inside the nursery trays. For this reason it is better to also have an external indicator, less precise but still useful.

Third criterion: the leaves

We can try to look at the state of the leaves to try to understand if the plant is suffering from a lack of nourishment. In particular, we focus our attention on the leaves that are located further down, near the collar: the basal leaves. When these leaves are yellowed or dried it is best to avoid the seedling: the faded color indicates that the leaves are bad for lack of nutrients, or that the plant is a little too old to fit in the tray, probably the plant will have roots under the ground twisted. The leaves turn yellow when the plant has no more nutritional elements and therefore decides to “sacrifice” the older leaves, allocating fewer resources to them.

To establish the age of the plant, it is also useful to count the number of true leaves produced: a plant with two or three true leaves (thus excluding cotyledons) is of the correct age for transplanting.

Check for the absence of parasites and diseases

Buying vegetable seedlings
Buying vegetable seedlings

To avoid bringing problems into your garden, by importing harmful insects or sick plants, it is good to check the seedlings in the nursery. If there are pitted leaves it is possible that there are insects, better leave the purchase alone. Cryptogamic diseases often manifest with yellow or brown mottled leaves. Another exam to do is related to earthen bread, where there should be no mold or rotten smell.

Other selection criteria- Buying vegetable seedlings

To choose the plants to buy, other useful criteria, independent of the health of the plant, may be related to the type of cultivation that has already been carried out in the nursery: the advice is to preferably choose certified organic seedlings.

Another criterion can be linked to the variety of the vegetable: if you buy F1 non-hybrid seedlings, there will be the possibility of safeguarding the seed for the following year and being able to replicate the cultivation without cost.

Now that you know how to choose the right plant, all that remains is to run to the nursery, buy the plants and transplant them.


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