Allotment Diary

Separating seedlings

Much like sowing seeds, separating seedlings is more or less the same from plant to plant…

It’s really lovely watching your seeds, turn into seedlings (or plant babies as I’ve seen them being referred to), and to a point whereby they have grown to needing a pot of their own.

I tend to separate seedlings when they have two sets of leaves – as a general rule thumb, I’ve seen that the plant can withstand the shock of a move when they’re just that little bit more established.

At a certain point, these seedlings will compete with each other for light, water and space – which can result in the plants becoming leggy.

The term “leggy” is one used to describe a plant that is thin and stringy, as it stretches to reach light changes the structure and strength of the plant, and this is to be avoided for younger plants.

When it comes to separating your seedlings, you’ll need..


Dibber, stick, old spoon, old fork…etc



You will get your hands dirty doing this – so fair warning on that. I find wearing gloves is more of a hindrance than a help, when it comes to separating seedlings.

Before you know it, this will turn into those therapeutic and gratifying activities.

First you need to fill your pots with the compost to the brim, and pat it down. I like to use the same sized pot to pat down the compost – this helps to make it all even and uniform.

Then, using a stick or a fork or any pencil shaped item, make a hole in the middle of the pot to hold and surround the root stock.

Gently prise out individual seedings from the cells of the trays, and separate seedlings from each other, by gently pulling the seedlings apart at the leaves.

Try to avoid handling the seedlings by the stem as this can bruise and damage the plant.

Place the root stock into the hole of pot and firm the soil around the base of the stem of the plant, to help with stability. If necessary, add more compost as a little bit of a top up if you need to.

You’ll need to water these seedlings in and I would recommend watering them each day to help get them more established and promote growth in the weeks ahead. Repeat for the rest of the seedlings.

Before you know it, you’ve got a whole shelf of plants 🙂

As I’ve said this method applies to most seedlings that you could be growing, including brassicas, tomatoes, marrows, courgettes and squashes 🙂 What have you got growing at the moment? I’d love to know in the comments below.

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