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Pricking out seedlings question

 
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I notice a lot of people from the UK "prick out" seedlings.  They grow a bunch of seed in small area, then use a pencil or dibber to gently work the seedling free then transfer it to a module or pot.

I don't normally do that but I have a cluster of 6 eggplant seedlings which I germinated in a wet paper towel (inside baggy) on 85F heating mat.  Evidently I accidently put all six seedlings in the same pot instead of 3 in each.  Anyways, I was wondering can I "prick out" these seedlings and transfer to another pot?  I'd like to have six eggplant seedlings and give a couple to my doctor who gardens.. eggplants aren't the easiest to germinate and thought it would be a nice gift.
 
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I use a thin piece of hardwood, sanded on one end to make a slightly rounded edge, and tease apart the roots to avoid tearing as much as possible. My son and I made several of these "seedling spudgers" over lockdown as gifts for our current crop of PDC students. We grabbed a nice looking piece of acacia from the firewood pile, split it on the kindling cracker, sanded them and drilled the ends. I like tying a loop of cord on them to make them harder to lose amidst the potting soil and containers when I work.

 
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I've used a florist straight pin. An awl is easier to hold on to. A narrow knitting needle should also work. A narrow flat screwdriver may work. I bet a wooden skewer would work too, just make sure it is very smooth, rough edges can break the smaller roots.
 
Phil Stevens
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A note on my spudgers: These were an evolutionary step from an old butter knife that I used to use to cut seedlings out of flats. I found that the slightly rounded tip and thin profile made it pretty easy to make little "brownies" by slicing into the soil, and then lifting them out keeps most of the root square intact. So I'm actually cutting lots of roots, but on the plus side I'm keeping a bit of the root mass intact. But they also work for the teasing apart process that Joylynn describes, and it just comes down to how I've sown the flat and how well spaced the little buggers are.
 
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Phil's "spudgers" look great.
I admit I have a cheaper approach: I keep an old fork in my greenhouse. For tiny seedlings that need pricking, I use the handle. For lifting out bigger seedlings that were already thinned and that need transplanting, I use the tines of the fork.
 
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Anita Martin wrote:Phil's "spudgers" look great.
I admit I have a cheaper approach: I keep an old fork in my greenhouse. For tiny seedlings that need pricking, I use the handle. For lifting out bigger seedlings that were already thinned and that need transplanting, I use the tines of the fork.



Glad I am not the only one who uses a "garden" fork!
 
Jennifer Lowery
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So can I pretty much prick out any seedling including all nightshades?
 
Anita Martin
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Nightshades yes, cucurbits no. Others like Brassica should only be pricked when really small.
 
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With my eggplant I pulled the pot off gently loosened the soil, pulled the seedlings apart by holding their leaves. I went slow and was gentle, and it worked for me, I didn't lose one.  Good luck.
 
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