Q.After a fantastic rate of germination with sweet peppers in the Burpee self waterer using coir, I struggled to move the seedlings
into larger containers. I did not realize the consistency of the coir medium would be so loose. Luckily, it worked. I am now almost 50 years at vegetable gardening, I have made most of the mistakes at least once and will likely make more moving forward. I am totally green at my first attempt at starting vegetable plants in my daughters new greenhouse. Heat and air circulation are automated. I did read extensively from 3 greenhouse books before beginning. I decided to sacrifice this first year by trying a broad based experiment of products. It went from self watering trays with coir, to 2 different starting mediums with peat pots, to expandable grow pellets in bottom watering trays. My biggest frustration thus far has been getting water right with all experiments. My stats run from nearly 100% with coir to total failure with other methods with 2 other sweet pepper varieties. All other attempts failed, dill, cilantro, various flowers all in starting mix or pellets. My only other success was 2 types of tomato in starting mix with peat. My question is the fragile nature of coir made it difficult, although not impossible to pot up, now in bigger pots, how will I get into ground next month in N Ohio. Also, I started too early on March 14th.
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
If you have to be fragile with the plant, then it is far too early to transplant. Once the rootball completely fills out the container that it is in, you will not be able to get that starting mix apart.
Once the plant is established, you won't be able to hurt it. In fact, those roots that you break upon transplant should be one of hundreds present. Breaking a few of the many there will force them to regrow with a vigor, UNLESS all of the transplanting is done too early.
Always start 1 seed per cell so that you don't have to disturb the roots or kill off any competition. This will give them a better chance. Always let them fill out their containers completely before transplanting. The cell should be thick enough with roots to hold together what it is growing in.
One last thing. COCO coir is very very very salty. No matter if it claims to have been washed. Make sure to soak coco coir and rinse several times before using. Not doing so will contribute to poor, slow, and distressed growth.
Follow this information, and you should have much more success!