Fertilizing your seedlings
By now, if you’ve started some seeds indoors, your seedlings have popped up and are growing every day. It won’t be long until you’ll need to provide them with some extra nutrients to stay healthy and thriving.
You most likely used a commercial seed-starting mix to start your seeds, which is a soil-less mix that creates ideal germinating and growing conditions for seedlings by keeping them moist and preventing the soil from compacting.
These mixes, however, generally contain no nutrients. That’s because they don’t need to. Each seed contains all the nutrients it needs to germinate, grow, and produce its first set of leaves.
But when the tiny plant sprouts its second set of leaves — called “true leaves” — then it’s time to start providing some nutrients.
Your seedlings are tender, so you don’t want to feed them with a full-strength fertilizer, which will burn their tiny, fragile roots. Instead, dilute a liquid, water-soluble fertilizer to half strength and water with that once a week to give them the nutrients they need to continue to grow. Continue this for about a month, and then feed them every 10 days or so with fertilizer at regular strength.
Note: Some seed-starting mixes, like my own homemade recipe (see it at http://bit.ly/wxCRVQ), have worm castings in the recipe, so there is some nutrient value to last a little while, but not enough to keep the seedling nourished indefinitely.