Pre-cultivate: 6 easy ways to do it

22 April 2021

Pre-cultivation is important for plants to develop and grow properly. There are several methods for pre-cultivation - but which one is the best one? Regardless if you are a beginner or a pro, here are our best tips on how to pre-cultivate. We will also give our best tips on which plants go best with which method.

1. Broadcast seeding

Broadcast seeding is a perfect method for chives, basil, and other herbs. Picture: Anna Lindeqvist

If you plan on pre-cultivating several plants of the same kind, broadcasting in a seedbox or squared pot is a good idea. Plastic packaging from grocery store vegetables works fine to pre-cultivate in as well.

Pros: By using this method, you will sow a lot of seeds in a large area instead of placing just a few seeds in several small pots. Broadcasting will be a quicker way to start!

To think about: If you are not that experienced as a cultivator, sowing the right amount of seeds can be difficult. They should not be sowed too tightly, because they will easily be tangled up together once it is time to replant the plants into bigger pots. If the plants are given too much time before being replanted, the roots will also eventually tangle up together. Cuttings are especially sensitive and are easily damaged when trying to detangle them. Therefore, it might take more time to replant using this method. 

Broadcasting is the right method if: you are an experienced cultivator and have the time for it, and also if you wish to have several plants of the same kind. 

Preferred plants: tomatoes, pepper, lettuce, and chili are all suitable seeds for broadcasting. 

2. Pre-cultivate in plug boxes

Plug boxes can hold several plants. It is preferable to grow seeds of the same growth time.

A plug box, or as well call them, Plant Start Plug Box, is a tool that helps you sow many plants in a small area. You sow one seed in each and every one of the cells on the box.

Pros: Plug boxes make the handling of the plants easy once it is time to replant them into bigger pots. If you put a lid on the plug box, it will act as a mini greenhouse where you can regulate the ventilation. In that way, you get an even level of moisture.

Plug boxes are both convenient and efficient since the bottom of the cells makes it easy to press every plug out once it is time for replanting. You can also sow several seeds of different kinds in different rows on the plug pox, and mark these with etiquettes to tell them apart. 

To think about: It takes a bit of time to fill each cell with plugs or soil. If pre-cultivating in a plug box, it is preferable to choose seeds that germinate and grow at similar speeds, as it can be tricky to press out the plants from the cells at different times. Since the cells are so small they dry out quickly, so you must remember to water often. Watering is especially important once the plants are so tall that you must remove the lid from the box. 

Plug boxes are the right method if: You are not that experienced as a cultivator, or if you wish to sow much in small areas.

Preferred plants: Small seeds you want a lot of, for example, summer flowers, tomatoes, and basil. 

3. Grow strong plants in mini greenhouses

How to open up the mini greenhouse Rootmaster brown, when it is time to replant your pre-cultivated plants. Picture: Klas Sjöberg

Mini greenhouses are perfect tools for pre-cultivating indoors. They allow you to grow several plants at the same time and help them create strong and healthy roots. There are different kinds of mini greenhouses, with different functions, so you can choose the one that fits your needs the most. 

Pros: Mini greenhouses help the plants develop healthy roots. Since the cells of mini greenhouses hold larger amounts of soil, it does not dry out that quickly. Some mini greenhouses have self-watering functions, like the mini greenhouse Rootmaster brown. This means that you could forget about your cultivation for 4-5 days after the germination, and it would still grow! 

The mini greenhouse Rootmaster brown is especially convenient to use when replanting since it is possible to open up the plugs cells in the middle; you open it like you would open a book. This makes it easy to handle the plants without damaging their sensitive root systems. The Rootmaster allows you to pre-cultivate seeds of different growth times since the plugs are divided into four modules. In that way, you can easily plant different kinds of seeds, regardless of how fast they grow. Just open the module with germinated plants that are ready to be replanted, and then keep the other plants in the Rootmaster until they are ready to be replanted as well. 

To think about: It takes some time to get started with the Rootmaster since every cell needs to be filled with soil. Also, it has limited space, which only allows you to plant a limited number of plants in it. 

A mini greenhouse is the right method if: You are a beginner or experienced and want to have lots of options regarding seeds. It also fits you if you wish to be flexible with your time since this method allows for you to forget about your cultivation for a few days, all thanks to the self-watering system. 

Preferred plants: Most seeds, especially peas, beans, corn, strawberries, sunflowers, and sweet peas.

4. Be efficient with cultivating plugs

Cultivating plugs gives your plants a good start and makes them easy to handle.

When it comes to cultivating plugs, you do not need any previous knowledge. All you need to do is put any seed into the plugs and then water them. 

Pros: The seeds will thrive in the porous material of the plug, and develop strong and healthy roots. After 3-5 weeks, when it is time to replant into bigger pots, you put the entire plugs into the new soil where they will be decomposed. Therefore, it is important that the plugs are degradable; just like our plugs, which consist of degradable coconut fiber and peat and come in packages of 6 or 14. Some plugs are already pre-cultivated with seeds, which makes it even easier for those who are beginners or want to be efficient with their cultivation.

To think about: For those who wish to choose their seeds more freely, it might be a disadvantage that some plugs are already pre-cultivated with seeds. Plugs are also a bit more expensive than soil is. 

Cultivating plugs is the right method if: You are a beginner, or if you want to sow as easily and effortlessly as possible, but still, with good results. 

Preferred plants: Chili, tomatoes, or aubergine. Plugs are also great if you want to cultivate just a few plants during the winter, and you do not want to drag out a big sack of soil. Further, plugs are a good choice for hydroponic cultivation, which is a method for cultivating without soil. This could be done in, for example, the hydroponic grow box Harvy. 

5. Maximize your cultivation with propagation trays

The bigger models of propagation trays fit those who have a larger amount of space to cultivate on. Picture: Anna Lindeqvist

Propagation trays, or mini plug flats as we call them, allow you to pre-cultivate your entire garden in just one tray - literally. There are propagation trays with up to 84 cells to sow in. 

Pros: If you are enthusiastic about cultivating, this is the right method for you! Some mini plug flat contains a growing tray as well, and some trays have self-watering trays to keep the soil or plugs moist. Propagation trays can be used for pre-cultivation several times during the summer. You can, for example, use it for ”back up-plants” if you for some reason have some gaps to fill in your garden. 

To think about: Cultivating a large number of plants at the same time acquires both time and patience from the cultivator when it is time to replant. It is easy to get enthusiastic and go overboard when pre-cultivating, and then ending up with too many plants but not enough space for them. If this happens to you, give the plants away as gifts to your friends, family, or neighbors. 

Propagation trays are the right method if: You are enthusiastic about cultivation, and if you want to cultivate a lot at the same time, or if you want to cultivate at several or different times. 

Preferred plants: Most edible plants. For example, Romaine lettuce, kale, and other leafy greens. Also great for cultivating cuttings.

6. Get practical with peat briquettes

Peat briquettes are easy to use when pre-cultivating.

Peat briquettes basically fill the same purpose as cultivation plugs; they are easy to handle, practical, and degradable. They are just another alternative and made from a different material. 

Pros: Peat briquettes are practical since you do not have to use any soil. Start with water the briquettes properly and then place one or two seeds in each briquette. When it is time for replanting, you just place the entire briquette in the new pot. Super simple!

To think about: Since the peat briquettes itself acts as a pot, it does not have any protecting layer or pot around them, which makes them fragile. Also, they easily dry out, so they need to be watered often. 

Peat briquettes are the right method if: You do not want to carry and handle soil unnecessarily and want the replanting to go as smoothly as possible. 

Preferred plants: Pelargos, cuttings, or other potted plants.

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