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Video: Growing Seedlings In Cassettes
A method that saves time and effort and produces strong, healthy plants
Recently, in newspapers and magazines for gardeners, you can often see advertisements about growing seedlings of vegetables and flowers in a cassette way. For this purpose, multi-cell cassettes are produced and sold with cylinders inserted into them with nutrient soil, in which the seeds must be planted. I have been growing seedlings of peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, and flowers in this way for many years. It is about this experience that I want to tell to novice gardeners or flower growers.
First, a little about why I came to this method. The main reason for the transition to cassette cultivation was the uneven appearance of seedlings. How did I grow seedlings before? Sow 10-20 seeds of pepper or other crops into some container and place it in the warmest and, as a rule, dark place. And when the first shoots (loops) appear, they must be immediately taken out to a much cooler window sill, and even backlit. But in this case, if you bring into the light the entire container in which only 3-4 loops have appeared so far, the remaining seeds, having fallen into new conditions for themselves, significantly delay germination and can appear only after 10-20 days. And the first shoots by this time it is time to transplant. At the same time, those plants are injured that have not yet emerged, but have already hatched.
If in that warm place wait for the bulk of the seedlings, then the first plants stretch out and even fall, dying. But when each seed sits in its own separate "nest", then such a problem does not happen: just look in more often (2-3 times a day) and take out the emerging seedlings to a bright place. This is the first and main advantage of the cassette method!
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The second advantage is that we usually start growing the first seedlings of peppers at the end of February, and the daylight hours are still very short. Therefore, using the backlight, we increase it to 14-16 hours. And these small cassettes with still small shoots can be easily placed under one fluorescent lamp, which saves energy consumption.
And, finally, the third important advantage is the absence of transplanting seedlings with a bare root system. Indeed, with the cassette method, not a transplant is used, but the transshipment of seedlings while preserving an earthen coma from a small to a large container.
All these advantages indicate that it would be good for everyone to buy ready-made cassettes, but they are not cheap, and if you grow a lot of seedlings, like me, for example, it is better to spend time and make them yourself. Therefore, I will tell you about the manufacture of cassettes, or rather cylinders, at home, in an artisanal way. Moreover, when I started it, there were no ready-made cassettes yet. And now gardeners can decide for themselves: buy ready-made cassettes or try to master my method.
So, I take a film from dense plastic bags and cut into rectangles 8x12 cm, and as a template I use a small container-cylinder for drugs with a diameter of 2.5 cm and a height of 7 cm. Having the film on a cylinder with an overlap of 3-4 cm, I fix its narrow - 1-1.5 cm tape - in two places. Then, in the formed overlap, I will insert a thick piece of paper with the name of the variety. Then, putting the template cylinder with the end-face film on the table, I fold the overhanging film (about 1 cm) onto the upper end part of the template and also fix it with tape, so the bottom is obtained. Now, having removed the polyethylene cylinder from the template, you can fill it with earth, then another and another …
Then I place them tightly in rows in a plastic pallet of any size. And I begin to lay out one seed with tweezers in each cylinder, pressing it into the ground by 1-1.5 cm. After that, I put a flat cassette with seeds in a plastic bag so that the earth does not dry out, and put it in the warmest place, where the temperature is about 26 -29 ° C. Therefore, seedlings appear quickly, however, if there are high-quality and fresh seeds.
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The soil for the cassettes must be prepared in advance, about half a month before planting the seeds. I use coconut briquettes for this. I put one briquette in a basin and fill it with four liters of water, to which I add water-soluble humic fertilizers (according to the instructions), which contribute to the emergence of strong, actively growing seedlings. When the briquette swells, having absorbed all the liquid, I carefully rub it with my hands to a homogeneous fine fraction and mix it with the brought garden (steamed in the oven) soil 1: 1.
I think this mixture works well for the first filling of cassettes. And when I transfer the seedlings from cassettes (cutting scotch tape or film with scissors) into a large container, then to this mixture I add sifted ash and superphosphate ground in a coffee grinder. I do the transfer of my seedlings twice. The first time - in the phase of two true leaves in disposable plastic cups with a capacity of 125 grams. This is due to the lack of space under the lamps on the windowsill. And the second time, when the seedlings can already be placed in a glazed loggia, this is approximately the beginning of April. There are more places and more light. And I transfer it into more spacious containers - from 0.5 to 1 liter.
And one more subtlety. Since there are a lot of seedlings, and it is hot on the loggia on sunny days, it dries up quickly. Therefore, I put 1 tbsp in each container during transshipment. spoon of soaked, swollen "Aquadon", which reduces the amount of watering and creates stable and comfortable conditions for the growth and development of seedlings.
I would like to note one more positive side of keeping seedlings on a glazed loggia. Since these conditions are similar to those in film or glass greenhouses: the temperature is high during the day and low at night, my seedlings, being there since April (and sometimes even earlier), harden and get used to temperature changes. Thus, in May, I bring strong, stocky, hardened seedlings to the dacha, which are ready for planting in protected ground and can even withstand slight frosts, of course, with additional cover with lutrasil.
L. Egorova, amateur gardener