Teaching Others to Grow Seedlings

Q.  I am starting a nursery with a group of individuals using the Mittleider method. I am following the Gardening Course book as closely as possible but I am still unclear on 1 crucial point:

WHEN do you transplant the young mass propagated tomato plants from the wooden flats to individual cells? Do the plants need to have their first true leaves before you pull them out of the ground to transplant them? Advice on this would be greatly appreciated.

A. The Mittleider Training “Videos” contain good material to SHOW you how to grow seedlings. They include 70 lessons contained on 2 CDs, and are the backbone for the intensive 3-month training program we conduct. The cost is $97 + $5 – from me directly.

Meanwhile, here’s a short explanation: The first transplant – from a flat or tray with hundreds of tiny seedlings to either another flat or individual 2″ cells – needs to be done after the seedlings have their first “true leaves”.

1) If using another tray be sure to mark it first.

2) Water the first tray before transplanting;

3) do not “pull” the seedlings out of the ground, but use a dibble (a 1/2″ doweling rod 6″ long, sharpened on one end), to carefully remove the seedlings;

4) keep as much soil mixture on the roots as possible;

5) remove the “seed leaves”.

6) Make a hole at each mark large and deep enough to accommodate the root ball and allow the seedling to be planted deep, with just the leaves above ground.

7) Water (always with the Constant Feed solution – 1 ounce of Weekly Feed to 3 gallons of water) immediately after transplanting, and be sure to leave the flat in full sun all day.