I recently planted a variety of seeds with dreams of starting my own garden. I purchased seeds from those neat little packets at the store and planted them in potting soil in cute little pots. The sprouted easily on my sun-filled porch. But soon they grew big and I needed to transplant them. I was about to simply stick them in a hole in the ground when I friend gave me some advice.
The first thing I needed to do was to harden off the plants. My porch was constantly warm and sunny, with no wind, rain or colder temperatures. My friend explained that the leaves of the plants will get sunburned if they are exposed to sun all at once. Smaller doses of sun and wind work better. And it actually helps the plants to build up chlorophyll. So, we moved the plants to an outdoor porch with a roof for a few hours each day. Gradually we built up the amount of time they stayed on the outdoor porch until they were ready to be transplanted. I was supposed to watch out for signs of drying out, but I confess most of the time I forgot about the plants until after dinner and had to quickly bring them in before it got dark and I forgot. A few of the plants ended up with roots coming out from the bottom of the pots…which signaled they were ready to be transplanted into the ground.
I had put a little thought into where the garden should go and had sectioned off the grass. With a simple shovel I had overturned the soil and I had purchased some cute edging to go around the garden with my fresh veggies in it. Well, as it turned out I had to do more to the soil to get it ready. I had to add compost and fertilizer, both purchased at my local department store. I simply sprinkled it over the ground and mixed it in with my shovel. I know there are probably other tools I could have used, but the shovel worked fine for me. I let the soil sit for two days before I actually introduced the seedlings to it.
When it came time to put the plants in my new soil I found the best way was to try to remove the plant by tipping it over. Some of the time I had to loosen the soil from the edges of the pot with my fingers or a butter knife. What didn’t work was trying to pull the plant out by the stem. That only resulted in a broken stem. As my friend suggested, I loosened some of the outer roots before I placed it into the small hole I had dug in the soil. Then I packed the soil around the stem and moved on to the next plant. When all my plants were transferred I watered them.
I was almost done! All I needed to do next was keep the newly transplanted seedlings covered for a few days. I used upside down buckets and recycled plastic containers to keep the wind and sun off my plants. Thankfully it wasn’t too windy so they stayed in place. Once we made it through those last few days of protection, my plants were ready to grow in their new home.
I must say that transplanting allowed me to start my garden earlier in the spring, which was especially helpful because I live in New England. And the process was quite simple once I realized how important it is to protect the new seeds.