Here is something new, after these 50 years of my growing cacti from seeds.
All of us hobby growers have noticed that it doesn't seem to faze cactus seedlings that they are crammed together in our growing conditions. But, we typically feel guilty about it while looking at the seedlings and worry that because of the tight contact among all the seedlings, catastrophic death from fungus is possible. That's why we transplant from the seedling beds into bigger cells. And that's when we experience the huge transplant losses alluded to in page 1. As I was ruminating about all this, while looking at my fantastic luck in germination and growth starting in January of this year, I menioned all this to my friend Steven Brack, the former owner of Mesa Garden. He told me of visiting commercial growers of cacti in California and seeing that they transplanted their seedlings, as crowding happened, by dividing the clumps up into roughly 1" (2.5 cm) clumps and transplanting them as this clump. They did not separate them into individual plants.
So, I did that, with the results shown above and following. I'm sorry that I didn't take pictures of all this right after the de-clumping/dividing and transplanting. I'll have to tell you what happened. I divided the overcrowded cactus seedling clumps into roughy fourths, and transplanted them into 2.5" pots. All of the clumps of cactus seedlings that you see, above, have about doubled in size after their transplanting into these 2.5" pots. The real news is that I can't find any death among the seedlings. That is, I usually expect huge losses on transplanting seedlings at the stage these were just before transplanting. I always thought that the smart thing (and logical thing??) was to separate all the bigger seedlings and give them their own cell in which to grow further. Then they died. Fifty years of this. It's a little late to learn from this (I'm 76 years old) but I'll never do again what I've done for 50 years. I will always do the first transplants in clumps. In fact, I will do another big planting of seeds in a month or so to test all these ideas. I'll keep the number of seeds to about 2 X 32 cells, or, 6,400 seeds. I actually don't want the work of a huge number of seeds. Yeah, I know, you think 6,400 seeds is huge.
The following pages are random closer-up pictures of a few of the cells above.
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