All posts by Lisa Dermer

“Spotting On” or “Pricking Out”: How to Pot Up Tiny Seedlings to Save Time & Money

“Spotting On” or “Pricking Out” refers to separating and potting up tiny just-emerged seedlings. You can use this technique to germinate a lot of seed in a small container. That’s useful when you have older seed or home-saved seed that you’re not sure will germinate well. You’ll be able to maximize space in your best seed-germinating set-ups (like heat mats or germination tanks). Transplanting tiny seedlings also saves the heartache of thinning.

1. Handle tiny plants by the roots or leaves. The stems are irreplaceable and easily crushed, killing the plants. Roots and leaves can easily re-grow!

2. Spot on when the plants are still tiny, as soon as the cotyledons (seedling leaves) have spread out and turned green, or before. You will probably find the plants are at a mix of stages — there may be some seeds just below the surface that are just barely sprouted. These can be potted up as well!

3. Carefully remove small sections of plants and gently tease apart the roots. I like to use the tip of a hori-hori to dislodge the plants.

4. Have the new pots or flats ready to go, with the potting soil appropriately moist. Once you start separating seedlings, the roots can quickly dry out, so plan to move any plants that will be exposed.

5. Push aside the soil with a popsicle stick or similar tool to make a hole. Holding the plants by a leaf, place in the hole. Try to keep the root pointing downwards.

6. Press down on the soil around the base of the plant to ensure good soil contact (this prevents drying). Gently water straightaway. If transplanting into a flat, you should water the whole flat again when it’s full.

Ta-da! You can save dozens or hundreds of plants by using this method rather than traditional thinning! Give your extra seedlings to friends, donate them to community gardens, or dig yourself extra garden space and plan to preserve the bounty of your garden!

How to Harvest Garlic Scapes

garlic scapes

Do you harvest garlic scapes while they’re still straight or after they’ve curled?

Garlic scapes harvested young are still tender enough to eat raw (although too pungent for some palates!) They can be cooked in stir-fries, pickled, or made into pesto. Harvested a little older, you may need to break off the woody bases, similar to asparagus, and just use the tender tops.

Scapes are the leafless flower stalks of hardneck garlic varieties. Harvesting scapes encourages the plants to put more energy into bulbs, increasing yields and improving quality. It’s usually done a few weeks or up to 2 months before the bulbs are ready for harvest. While scapes may be harvested by snapping or twisting them off at the base, many gardeners prefer to use pruning shears or clippers. A warm, dry afternoon is recommended for harvesting scapes, as this promotes fast healing.

While some folks advise to harvest when the scapes have curled once, others recommend harvesting while they’re still straight. The truth may be that tenderness varies by variety — some varieties stay tender after curling, while other varieties are best harvested earlier.

garlic scapes freshly harvested

We’d love to hear from you! Have you found variation by variety? Do you always harvest at the same stage?

Remember, we take pre-orders all year for our fall-shipped heirloom Garlic cloves for planting!

These links offer advice for growing your own garlic:

Garlic and Perennial Onion Growing Guide

Garlic and Perennial (Multiplier) Onions: Harvest and Curing

Fundraise for your School/Organization with SESE

It’s time to start planning your Spring 2018 fundraiser! Raise money for your school garden, send the band to Disney, get new uniforms for the basketball team, or help fund your church group through a seed fundraiser. Together, we can raise money for your important cause and grow heirloom produce in your community. Sign up to fundraise with Southern Exposure today!

There’s no better way to raise money for your cause than selling heirloom seeds from SESE. We offer dozens of options and make it easy to do online and paper sales.