How and When to Plant Your ZipGrow Classroom Garden

Posted by HalleBrake on March 31, 2015

It's planting time!

So your seeds have made the glorious transition from seeds to seedlings thanks to your care and nourishment.

Essentially, your preschoolers have become big kids, and are ready to leave the comfort of preschool and experience the new opportunities of the world outside. It is time send them off for grade school - in this case to the ZipGrow tower.

But you may be wondering, “when exactly is the right time to transplant them, and how do you do that anyway?”

In this blog post, we will discuss when and how to transplant your seedlings into your ZipGrow tower.

“When are my seedlings ready to be transplanted into my ZipGrow tower?”

It is different for every plant, but there are some general guidelines which you can follow. The three general aspects to look for are height, true leaf development, and overall appearance.

Heighttrue leaves

We recommend that your seedlings reach a height of 2-3 inches before you transplant them.

The rounded leaves are actually cotyledons.

True Leaf Development

Next look for true leaves. True leaves are the first real leaves that the plant grows.

When seeds are first sprouting, they have two rounded leaves. These are actually the cotyledons, and are a part of the seed. After a while, the first true leaves will appear, and will look noticeably different from the other two. True leaves look more like the leaves you see on a mature plant.

True leaf development is important because this signifies that the plant is now photosynthesizing.

For more information on true leaves, visit this article, where I found some of this information.

seedlings with true leaves

Overall Appearance

And finally, you need to examine your seedlings’ general appearance for signs of good or bad health.

If they appear to be strong and healthy, and have met the other two requirements, then they are probably ready to be transplanted.

If they appear to be delicate and weak, they may need more time and care.

healthy seedlings vs unhealthy seedlings

“Okay, my seedlings are good to go. How do I actually transplant them?”

The transplanting process is simple and only takes three easy steps that can be easily accomplished in the classroom.

It is best to plant all your plants at the same time to avoid damaging the root zones by reopening the Matrix Media.

If some plants are ready a little before others, let them continue to grow in the trays until others are ready and transplant them all at once.

Step 1. Prepare your ZipGrow tower

springIn order to prepare your tower for planting, you need to first make sure that you have unpacked and set up your Spring System (or other ZipGrow tower setup).

Once your Spring System is built and ready to go, you need to prepare the actual tower. This is something you can do with your students.

Remove the media strips from the tower using the pulling hook. Then add your wicking strips to the tower using this process.

Now, it is time to remove the seedlings from the plug tray.

Step 2: Removing the seedlings from the tray

Before you can plant your seedlings in the tower, you need to remove them from the plug tray properly.

seedling tray

This process will look a little different for everyone depending on what type of seedling tray is being used. If you are using the seedling trays provided with the classroom package seed kit, this should be pretty easy.

Before you begin, make sure your seedlings are not sopping wet. The more dry they are, the easier they will be to remove, but be careful not to let them dry so much that they wilt.

Then, if they are thick stemmed plants like cabbage, you can just lightly pull them up out of the tray. If not, use a lever utensil such as a popsicle stick, end of a spoon, etc. to gently wedge the seedling plug out of the tray.

If they are stuck, you can push up on the bottom of the cell to help pop them out of the tray. This might be the easiest and fastest method for teachers using the provided tray.

Now that you know how to remove the seedlings, you can plant them into the tower.

planting seedlings

Step 3: Planting a ZipGrow tower

This is the exciting part! Let’s get these seedlings planted in the ZipGrow tower!

Quick Tip

 If you have the Spring System, watch this video on how to unpack, set up, and plant your spring system from start to finish. You can read about planting a ZipGrow here, as well as view a step-by-step infographic:


Congratulations! The hardest parts of the process is over! You have planted your seeds, helped them grow, transplanted them into their new home, and now you get to sit back and enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of your labor.

Need help with curriculum and ideas?

See how the Edible Learning Lab has organized their learning garden:

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Next, check out our post about What To Expect From Your Classroom Garden.


Topics: In the Classroom

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