How to "prick off" seedlings
Pricking off or transferring of seedlings into its own pot is daunting especially for new gardeners. The seedlings are fragile and should be handled from the leaves (seed leaves) rather than the stems because the stems bruise and damage easily. This is usually done before the real leaves appear. This means that the first pair of leaves that sprouted when your seed germinates are the cotyledon or seed leaves. They are oval-shaped and does not resemble the mature leaves of the plant. Some gardeners transfer their seedlings when they are hardened off or big enough to handle to prevent transplant shock or seedling death. In commercial nurseries, they usually schedule their activities to meet demands, therefore, seedlings are usually transplanted on a schedule. In my own garden, however, I just transfer my seedlings whenever they are bigger or getting too big for the pot.
Below is my bell pepper seedlings that I planted last April. You can check the bell pepper blog here.
This was taken 2 weeks from planting and a week since they germinated. You can see the real leaves budding in the middle and the bigger, oval leaves are the cotyledon leaves.
In this picture, I was using a chopstick to loosen the soil.
I then held the seedling by the leaves and pull it off the soil.
I then prepared the new pot and filled it with fresh compost.
After that, I watered the soil and poked a hole in the soil using chopsticks.
Insert the seedling in to the hole and slightly tap the soil around it to secure it.
I inserted 3 seedlings in one pot because I ran out of pots.
Here is one of the bell pepper seedlings after 3 months.
I am now waiting for my plant to flower and fruit. I will keep you posted so stay tuned.