Friday, March 18, 2011

Using Plug Trays

Good Morning, there has been talk of planting seed on the Daylily Robin lately so i thought i would show and tell what we do here at Wooster Garden.Long time ago i was at the Lily Farm of Jack Carpenters, Center, Tx. and was asking Jack what he did about planting seeds. We had been planting seeds in rows in wood framed boxes and then when we had time we would dig them up and bare root them into the garden rows. These seedlings would sit for 2 weeks trying to get reestablished. Stalled out was more like it. When we started using the Plug Trays we found out how much easier it was to plant and plants did not have Transfer Shock. They hit the ground running when planted. Somewhere between 6 to 8 weeks you can move the plugs to the ground, it depends on how well you treated your seedlings. We will fertilize every 2 weeks with a weak solution of water soluable fertilizer. Miracle Grow would be fine.

We use a plug mix made by Sunshine Peat Moss company, it has been sifted so there are no big particules of compost in it to hinder the planting of seeds. It also has other additives added to help retain water and make seeds develope faster. I buy mine from a local commercial greenhouse here in Conway, Arkansas.

My plug trays have 128 holes per tray. Holes are 1x1 inch sq. and 2 inches deep. The tray itself is 21 x 11 inches. I use the end of a sharpened pencil to punch holes for the seeds to go into the mix. One seed per hole. You can plant 1000 seedlings per day without a big effort. I till my seedling bed and have it ready for the plugs the day before planting. After i plant plugs it is time to add the Treflan granular herbicide (you can use Preen) and water it in imediately to stop weed and grass seed from germinating. If you wait even 24 hours to water in you are too late, the weed seeds have already germinated. Then as soon as possible i start to mulch my seedlings, this helps keep moisture in and keeps ground cooler in the summer. You can take my method and use some or all of it to what fits in with your garden, maybe you can add to this method and make it better. So here goes.

I start with 2 clean empty 5 gallon buckets, a bottle of fungicide(ortho daconil), plug trays, plug mix and water. Take 1 bucket and fill half way with clean water then add 2 tablespoons of fungicide. Take the second bucket and half fill with dry plug mix. Take water bucket and pour half gallon into dry plug mix, then take your hands and mix the two together, keep adding water and mixing till you can take a handfull of mix and squeeze water from it, the wetter the better as the xcess water will come out of the plug tray bottom holes. you must get your mix wet before planting because if you just spray the dry mix in the trays the water will just roll off.

Put tray on a table and take a double handfull of mix and work into holes of tray. After the holes seem they take any more mix then take your fingers and press mix to the bottom of plug tray holes. These is very important, if you dont use this step the plugs will be only half full and your seedlings will not have a good root system and will air dry in the bottom of tray. After using your fingers and pushing the mix to the bottom, then take another double handful and fill holes by moving mix over the top again. Keep adding mix untill all hole are full, then skimm off excess and tray is ready to plant. I use the vinyl blinds and split in half to make the cross markers.

Only use pencil when marking tags for outside, because it says permanent marker it will fade out before seedlings are ready to plant and those markers dont do well when tags are damp. I stack my trays for about 6 days and check often to see when they germinate. Once they begin to germinate unstack them and lightly water each day. Dont forget to fertilize and use the fungicide again at about 2 weeks to water seedlings. Why have i used a fungicide? To stop damping off. Without a fungicide they look fine one day and the next day they are laying over like a weed eater cut them at ground level. Fungus will kill your seedlings so please do this anytime you plant seeds in containers. I stack my trays in the hot water room and then move to part shade with morning sun and after they are 3 weeks old move to full sun, this will keep them from getting sunburned. When you can pull seedlings from trays and not loose any peat mix you have a good root ball and are ready to plant. Dont forget to water everyday as there isnt much area there to retain water with roots and all and the sun will dry them out. I hope this helps in planting your seeds. If you need help you can email me at

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