How to transplant seedlings (Pricking out)
Seedlings may look very fragile but they transplant best if they are pricked out as soon as they get two pairs of true leaves. At this early stage they will need handling with extra care but they tend to transplant better when they are small and are far less likely to suffer a check to their growth.
Before you attempt to remove any seedlings from their trays loosen the soil from around the clumps and gently tease out individual seedlings. Use a dibber or a blunt pencil, the wooden forks that come with takeaway meals are also useful for this task!
Only disturb a small quantity of seedlings at a time, and have the new modules and trays ready before you begin, this helps prevent fragile roots from drying out while waiting to be transplanted.
Don't feel you have to prick out every single seed, of course if you've sown lots more than you need this is harder than it sounds! But if you really don't want to waste a large quantity of unwanted seedlings why not donate them to a plant sale or give them away to neighbours? ... and make a mental note to sow more thinly in future!
Here are some more tips for success:
Always handle seedlings by their leaves, never the stems. Leaves will re grow but if you damage the fragile stems you’ll kill the plants.
Gently ease the seedlings out of their trays and transplant into fresh compost in individual cell trays or small pots.
Make a hole in the fresh compost with a dibber or pencil and gently lower the seedling into the hole.
Settle the roots and make sure they are entirely covered, do this very gently; there is no need to press the seedlings hard!
Water gently to settle the soil around their roots.