Some plants are picky about their growing conditions, but every plant does better in well-fertilized soil, a suitable pH, and high amounts of organic material. Transplant prep can take up to a week in some cases but may be done just before planting in others. For example; Melons, Tomatoes, and Eggplants do best in plastic mulch.
Types of Transplanting
Generally, you’ll find there are three types of transplants;
Bare root transplants consist of green tops and exposed roots with no soil. Things like Onions, Leeks, and Strawberries fall into this category. They’re often sold in “sets” and can’t be allowed to dry out before being put in the garden.
Potted Transplants are what you find most often in commercial nurseries where they use shallow plastic trays or flats. Typically they have stems, leaves, and roots growing in a small amount of soil. They must also not be allowed to drying out before planting. Some examples of Potted Transplants include Herbs, Eggplants, Peppers, and Tomatoes.
BulbsBulbs are not technically transplants but are more like transplants than Direct Sow seeds. The vast majority of these bulbs can be store for an extended period with little to no moisture. Some of the bulbs you’ll find in a garden include Garlic, Potatoes, Asparagus, and Many Flowers.
Transplanting without Plastic Mulch
Determine and mark out the spacing for your seedlings will require as directed.
Evaluate the soil in the area and how it fits the requirements for the seedlings you’re transplanting. Consider spreading compost, manure, or other soil additives, excluding fertilizer in the area. If you’ve done this, skip to Step 4.
Use a spade, garden claw, or tiller to dig the top 15cm of soil and turn the area into a smooth, prepped bed.
Measure and mark out the locations of your rows/plants with sticks. Use the plant information to determine how much, if any fertilizer, is necessary, and put a small pile of soil.
Use your hand or a trowel to work the fertilizer into the soil. Spread the fertilizer in a small circle from the stake about 20-30cm across with the stick at the center.
Use the process below depending on which type of transplant you’re performing;
Look up your planting depth for the bulb and dig holes or a trench of the appropriate depth and place the bulbs firmly in the bottom and fill them in with soil. Be sure to press the dirt down as you go to improve the contact between your bulb and soil. Reference the literature for the bulb you’re planting as some bulbs have different planting specifications like Rhubarb, Asparagus, and Garlic.
Use your finger or a stick to make a hole large deep enough to accommodate the roots on the seedling. Place the roots of your seedling into the hole, and be sure that the plant will remain above ground level. Press the soil into the base of the plant, then water thoroughly.
Dig a hole in the middle of the fertilized area, slightly larger than the pot. Put your hand over the top of the plant. Then with the stem between two of your fingers, turn the pot upside down to let the seedling slide out. It’s ok if some of the soil falls off of the roots. Place the root ball into the hole and backfill to the proper depth while being careful to keep the seedlings stem at ground level except for Peppers, Tomatoes, and Eggplants. Be sure to press the soil around the plant firmly. It will increase contact between the roots and the earth and water thoroughly. If necessary, use a stake to help a tall or weak plant stand up. For Tomatoes, Peppers, and, Eggplants dig the root ball deeper so that the bottom leaves are sitting just above the ground. Then be sure to press the soil around it and water it thoroughly.
Transplanting with Plastic Mulch
Figure out how much space you need for your seedling and layout your plastic mulch. Always remember to allow for future growth.
Use your fingers, stick or trowel to make a hole in the plastic and the soil underneath. Keep the opening as small as you can to limit weed access. For transplants with a big root ball, remove some of the excess dirt. Alternatively, if it’s just a small amount of soil, just spread it under the plastic. For Eggplants, Tomatoes, and Peppers, try to dig your hole 8-10cm deeper than the pot is tall.
Read the seedling information sheet and determine how much, if any, fertilizer is necessary. Always try to keep the hole as small as possible. Use your fingers or a trowel to work the fertilizer into the soil.
Water the hole until the soil around the hole is muddy and wet.
Remove your plant from the pot with two fingers, one on each side of the stem, then turn it upside down. Place it inside the hole, trying not to stretch the plastic if possible.
Use your hand to work the root into the muddy soil. Some plant stems and leaves need to remain above ground, unlike Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplants, which need coverage to the first leaves. Doing this creates a more robust root system for the plant and gives it more stability.
Sweep your hand under the plastic to flatten the earth over the roots and press it down firmly as there should be good contact between the roots and soil.
Use soil, leaves, or stones to weigh down the plastic. You don’t want it to move up and over the plant’s leaves. If this does happen, the plant will get too hot and die.
You should water your seedlings thoroughly as soon as you plant them. Afterward, watch the soil and only water them if the soil is dry.
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