Wednesday, March 14, 2012


So, you started your seeds inside in your light garden this year, or you bought the best plants you could find at the nursery, and want to transplant them out into the garden. For much of the US it might be a little bit early to do that yet, but it is good to prepare for it so that you can transplant those tender seedlings successfully.
Seedlings are usually started in a potting soil mix and should have been keept watered and growing quickly during the short weeks or months as they are grown in optimal conditions. So how do you take that seedling from that optimal condition into a windy, dry to wet then dry, hot and sunny or even cold place where the soil is maybe a little rocky, sandy or otherwise imperfect? Luckily most seedlings are a little bit forgiving, but you do want to take care and give them a good chance for survival. One thing I do when they are still inside, as I water them each day, I gently brush my hand over the top of them gently bending them over a bit. This will simulate  being blown by the wind a bit, and the plant will respond by strengthening its stem. Keep them growing quickly  by fertilizing every few weeks or so until ready for transplant. Then when it gets near the time, take them outside for a few hours the first day to get them ready for the hot sun, then a few more the next day. Do that for several days, making sure not to leave them out overnight, or let them dry out. They dry much more quickly in the sun and wind. Then when the time comes that you are ready to transplant, dig a hole, if it is loose soil, you can dig just enough for the plant, if it is not, loosen it up so that the roots can grow out a bit. I dig a small hole slightly deeper and off to the side of the plant and drop in a handful of fertilizer. This can be organic or not, whichever you choose. Then when the roots get a little more established, and reach the fertilizer, it will give them a much needed boost. But fertilizing too early right after transplanting can cause them to have even more shock. Then the first few nights if they are coldish, it would be good to cover them with a hot cap, row cover or wall of water for a while until they get more established.
One tip about tomatoes, pull of the bottom 2 leaves and plant it up to the bottom of the lowest leaves. The whole stem area that is planted below the soil will actually sprout roots and make it have an extra strong root system to support a nice healthy plant.

Also beware that squash family plants have very tender roots and do not like to be transplanted. So when transplanting be very careful not to disturb the roots.
Water the plants in right after planting, and keep an eye on them, watering when needed. Add mulch to cold loving plants right away to keep the soil temperature warm, and heat loving plants, don't add the mulch until the soil warms up a little bit more.
Remember, keep them growing fast for a good harvest.
Happy Gardening!

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