How and Why You Should Cover Your Seed Trays

When you are trying to grow your seeds in seed trays, you need to cover them, but not everyone really understands why this is the case or that they should even do this.

Why cover your seed trays? The most obvious reason for doing so is to bathe the soil and the seeds in darkness, which then stimulates germination. The sprout will basically reach for the direction that it can sense the most amount of light and the less light there is, the more enthusiastic the sprout will be in growing. Other reasons also include protection from pests and the like.

You can certainly grow seedlings even if you don’t cover your seed tray, but it would a heck of a lot easier to do so if you do and you also increase the rate of germination, to start with.

How to Grow Seedlings the Right Way?

If you are going to grow seedling anyway, you might as well do it the right way and the right way to do it is to be prepared. You need to have the right information, the right equipment, and the resolve to actually spend the amount of time, money, and effort into caring for your seedlings.

With our topic today about why you need to cover your seedling tray, it is always a good idea to talk about the process of growing plants, as a whole. The more you appreciate the bigger picture, the better you will be at actually getting a good sense of what you will need to do in order to grow excellent seedlings.

At the end of the day, it comes down to:

·         Preparation

·         Seed choice and quality

·         Time

·         Space

·         Location

·         Environment

·         Equipment

So, with that being the case, let’s take a look at the table below that contains some of the factors that go into growing seeds the right way:

Spot for PlantingSet aside a space that is dedicated only for the growing of the seedlings, preferably with enough room to move around
ResearchLook up all relevant information in growing seedlings, factoring in temperature, time, moisture, humidity, and so on
SchedulingYou need to make sure that you have set enough time to take care of the seedlings, which might require you to move them around from time to time
ShoppingLook for the kinds of seeds that you can reasonably take care of and that will not pose an issue in sprouting
PreppingPrepare the soil, the tray, the cover, the space, and the seeds for planting
PlantingBegin planting the seeds in holes made on the soil that is already in the container, and only put enough seeds as necessary
WaitingWait for the seeds to germinate and for the sprouts to burst out of the ground, which can be in a few hours or a few days
CaringThe seedlings need to be watered, covered and exposed to the sun carefully until they are ready to be transplanted
TransplantingOnce the seedlings grow true leaves, they are ready to be transplanted, which would be best done if the seedlings are robust enough
MaintainingOnce the transplanting is done, the seedlings only need to be cared for until maturity and eventually, death

Now, you need to do absolutely all of this in order to grow your seedlings? No, but you would be a lot more effective at it if you did so. The fact of the matter is that barring issues with the seeds themselves, every single factor in that table is necessary for you to get the kind of results you want. It’s just up to you to decide if you actually think it is worth doing.

Spot for Planting – This might seem like an obvious point to make, but before you ever decide to grow seedlings, you had better have a place ready where you will do it. You can’t just come back from the store with all of your stuff and only then think about where you are going to do it. You are dealing with tools, dirt, mulch, fertilizer, and a bunch of other nasty stuff.

You have to have your space ready by the time everything else is prepared so that you would be good to go right away. You don’t want to end up paying all of that money for all of that stuff only to realize that you don’t actually have the space to work with.

Research – Once space has been prepped, it is time for you to do your homework. Look up which seedlings would grow easiest in your area. Find the plants that take the least amount of work to take care of because you are likely a beginner at this, considering that you are reading this guide. Don’t make things difficult for yourself, at least, not right now.

Scheduling – One of the things that a lot of gardeners or, at least, novice gardeners don’t seem to really take into consideration is time. It takes a lot of time and patience to grow seedlings, and if you don’t have enough of that to get the job done right, don’t do it at all. You need to have a schedule that works for you and the plants, so shuffle things around and make some adjustments as necessary.

Shopping – Then we come to shopping, which is where your preparations and research will really come into play. You simply do not want to get seeds that are tough to grow and take care of. This is just a fact. Do not do this and do not even attempt it since you would only be wasting your time. Sure, you might learn along the way, but there is an order to these things.

Prepping – Assuming that you are done with your shopping, you would have likely already gotten the soil, the mulch, and the fertilizer that you need in order to create the bed for the seeds. This is where you start mixing stuff together and then place all of it in the container. There are a few things to note here, though.

First of all, use a potting mix for the soil, not garden soil. Second of all, don’t go crazy on the mulch and the fertilizer, especially the fertilizer. You don’t want to drown your seedlings in nutrients and chemicals. This will kill them instead of helping them thrive.

Planting – With that done, it’s time to do some planting. You will want to punch holes in a uniform fashion throughout the container. They need to be spaced evenly, with at least half an inch of space between them. Then, you will need to drop about three pieces of seeds in each hole and no more than that. You don’t want to end up encouraging too much competition.

Waiting – Once the planting is done, the next thing that you need to do is to cover the seedlings, place the container in the assigned spot and just wait. Normally, if everything went well, the sprouts will begin to show about a day after planting. If they don’t, you can wait for up to seven days for all of the sectors to get a sprout.

If there are some seeds that don’t sprout during that period, you can safely assume that something went wrong and you won’t be getting seedlings from those.

Caring – Caring for seedling is very important and can often by highly neglected. You need to water them with a spray bottle or by soaking the soil from beneath. Once you do that, you will then need to make sure that the seedlings get adequate sunlight, air circulation, nutrients, and appropriate gentle handling. You do this until true leaves start sprouting.

Transplanting – You will know that the true leaves of the seedlings have come out because they are the ones with the more jagged shapes that the sprouted leaves. This is the indication that the seedlings are now reading to be transplanted to their final destination.

You have to remember that this is one of the most stressful times in the life of the plants that you will grow. You need to do it as carefully and as efficiently as possible. It would help if you already have space picked out and dug so that all you need to do is gently drop the seedling in there.

Maintaining – Once all of the seedlings have been transplanted, all you need to do now is to take care of them. You need to clean the plants, prune the branches, clear away dead leaves, and make sure that the plants don’t get sick or get infested with pests. As is the case with the caring for the seedlings, you still need to take some time to maintain your grown plants.

Why Seedlings Grow in Darkness

Before anything else, it is important to point out that light and darkness actually play a very important role in helping plants grow healthy. Just as plants need sunlight to survive, they also need a break from all that light in order to power down. It’s a balance thing, which is why there are so many variations in plants all over the world with different lengths of days.

With that out of the day, it should be noted that the matter of covering seed trays in order to promote germination through darkness and humidity only applies to this particular stage. Exposing the seeds to the absence of light basically stimulates the natural disposition of the organic materials to germinate. This then leads them to sprout at a faster rate.

On that note, just because you covered your seed tray with a lid, this does not guarantee that your seeds will sprout right away. Depending on the quality, type, and condition of the seed, it may take more time. The darkness will just speed up the process more than normal, thus allowing you to reach your goal even faster. The seeds themselves will also need to meet certain conditions.

For example, if you really want your seeds to grow as fast as possible, they need to be dry. If you are trying to grow fruit seeds, for example, they need to be washed and then to sit under the sun for at least a day. Of course, If you are buying the seeds that you are going to plant, this should not be that big of an issue, to begin with.

If the seeds are old, you also can’t expect them to grow that fast or at all. This is just something to keep in mind before you start the process and commit the time.

Why Grow Seedlings in Trays

You might be wondering why you need to grow your seedlings in trays rather than just plant the seeds directly in a pot or something. The answers to this are numerous, but it basically boils down to the concept of convenience. It is much easier to grow seedlings in trays because you can control the conditions with more ease.

Everything from the amount of light that the seedlings get, to the moisture, heat, humidity, and nutrients is all in your grasp. You also won’t have to worry about birds or pests messing up your project before you are ready to expose the seedlings to the world. However, the biggest reason why seedlings are grown in trays or containers first before being transferred is a matter of success.

You are much more likely to see the seedlings grow into mature plants if they are already relatively grown by the time they are transplanted. They would have already built up a reasonable level of tolerance for stress and would have also already become robust enough to stand on their own. If you plant seeds directly in the earth, they would be far more sensitive and vulnerable.

Related Questions

How Many Seeds Do You Put in Each Hole?

Normally, you would only really need to put three seeds in each hole. Doing so will allow you to increase the odds of getting a sprout without making the seedlings compete with each other to the point of mutual destruction. If no sprout comes out with three seeds, the seeds are bad.

What Happens if You Plant Seeds Too Close Together?

If you plant seeds too close together, they will basically get in each other’s space. There is a chance that their leaves, branches, and roots will all be tangled up, thus making them more difficult to transplant. You are also risking nutrition issues, with the seedlings feeding too close to each other.

Do Seedlings Grow Faster at Night?

Contrary to what you may believe, seedlings actually grow faster at night compared the rate at which they develop during the day. This is because when the sun is still out, the plants would be too busy taking in all of that light and turning it into food. All of the energy of the plants would be going towards processing photosynthesis.

However, once the light is gone, the plants will then make use of the nutrients and the food that is created in order to grow. This is why seedlings and even mature plants tend to grow faster when there is no light. This is also why indoor plants like those constantly exposed to UV light tend to grow very slowly compared to their wilder counterparts.

Of course, this is not to say that plants only need darkness in order to grow faster. It’s all about maintaining a balance because the plants do need to refuel every once in a while. As long as you can maintain that balance, you will have plants that grow at a fast rate while being relatively robust and healthy.

Then again, it also can’t be denied that some plants thrive better in the shade. There are simply certain organic materials that don’t like the sun all that much, such as certain species of fungi. For those who want to grow those kinds of plants, it is absolutely imperative that they have a method of keeping the light away.

Considering that mushrooms can be edible and even delicious, this is something that you might want to try. Then again, mushrooms are notoriously challenging to grow in the right manner, especially if you are going for something like the taste. As for growing them for aesthetic reasons, you can do that, as well. Just be careful since some of the prettiest mushrooms are also poisonous.

Humidity Domes and Seedlings

At this point, you might be wondering what else you can do in order to make your seedlings grow faster. Well, you can always turn to humidity domes if you wanted to. These are basically the containers that will trap heat and moisture inside where the seedling trays are also located. They are often portable and you can even make them yourself, although, there are also store-bought versions.

Before you commit to this particular plan, though, you should know that there are no guarantees when it comes to using humidity domes. The only thing that they can assure is that your seedlings will be kept moist at all times and the temperature will be higher than that of the outside. This is perfect for plants because they do thrive better under warm conditions.

If you combine humidity domes with all of the points that were made in this guide, you could potentially have a killer formula for growing healthy and strong seedlings. However, this is not likely to work on all seedlings and there are bound to be some plants that will not react kindly to this kind of approach.

So it really comes down to your research and learning more about the prospect of growing seedlings. If you decide that humidity domes are for you, then there should be no reason not to go for it.

Just be careful about the expectations that you have when you go into a project like this, though. If you use a humidity dome and it ends up in failure, you could be left even more confused about the prospect of gardening than you were before. You might even quit out of frustration. 

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