So you’ve found yourself with some vegie seedlings.

Maybe after yet another bag of liquefied green mush was found at the back of the fridge you decided to grow lettuce instead and just pick leaves as you need. Maybe you got sick of paying five bucks a kilo for tomatoes when you realised you could buy a few plants for that price and eat tomatoes all summer. Maybe you impulse bought basil seedlings after everyone else was instagramming their cute windowsill herbs. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Or maybe YFM gave you a seedling at an event – we can be pretty nice like that. But however you got it, you’ve decided you want to plant a seedling, or maybe even plant a vegie garden and start growing your own vegetables.

If you’ve never planted a seedling before, then you’re wondering what you do next. Don’t break a sweat. It’s pretty bloody simple.

How to plant a vegetable seedling – a step-by-step guide

Get seedlings

Key step. The others aren’t going to make sense or work unless you do this one.

Prepare your garden

Choose somewhere, which gets lots of sun. Then get rid of any weeds, add some compost if you’re planting in the ground, and break up the soil a bit with a trowel or garden fork if it’s rock hard.

If you’re planting vegetables in pots, make sure they’re large enough for your plant’s final size. Larger plants like tomatoes or zucchinis like an almost knee-high pot (at least 30cm wide), small plants like lettuce cope with smaller pots, but stick with at least 20cm wide so it doesn’t dry out too fast. Use good quality potting mix or a combination of potting mix and compost.

Make some holes in the soil for your plants that are about half the size of your fist at the recommended distance from each other for your plant. Gardening Australia usually has your back if you don’t know what to plant when, or how far apart.

Get your vegie seedlings out of their punnet

Place your hand over the soil, with your fingers between each plant. Tip the punnet so the seedlings are upside down and the soil surface is resting on your palm. Squeeze the punnet gently and carefully lift it off. If you’re struggling, tip the plants back up the right way, water them, and try again in a minute.

Four steps showing how easy it is to plant a vegie seedling

Separate your vegie seedlings

It’s ok to put your seedlings down on their side or the right way up. Then gently pull apart the seedlings whilst trying to give each plant an equal amount of soil, and avoid destroying too many roots – sometimes it takes a bit of soft wiggling to get them to play ball.

Plant your vegie seedling

Place it in the prepared hole. Push dirt back into the hole and around the base of the plant. Try to line up the depth of your hole so the soil will still end up at the same height on the seedling as it was in the punnet (you don’t want to leave roots exposed, or make it mouldy by piling dirt up too high). You might need to lift the seedling out of the hole and put a bit more dirt back in the bottom to get it lined up right. Press down firmly around the plant. Water. Add some pea straw or other mulch to stop too much water from evaporating. You’re done!

Planting

Looking after your vegetables

It’s pretty simple, particularly if you’ve chosen a nice sunny spot. Water them regularly (once or twice a week is usually fine), and more often if the weather’s hot and dry. If you think they need more water, stick your finger in the soil: if it’s damp you’re fine, if it’s dry, water. If they start looking a little sad put more compost on the soil, or head to your local nursery and ask about fertilisers.

Remember, humans have been growing food for thousands of years – you got this. And if things go pear-shaped then google it, or ask YFM your question on facebook or instagram and we’ll do our darndest to answer it.

Youth Food Movement