Depending on where you live and the climate you experience, late winter and early spring are generally the best time to start vegetable seedling propagation. Because vegetable seedlings are still young and delicate, care and consideration need to be given to give them the best chance of survival in your garden.
Here are 5 “sure-fire” measures to prepare your vegetable seedlings for in-ground planting:
- Acclimatize the Vegetable Seedlings: Seedlings which were grown under indoor conditions must be acclimated with the outdoors, little by little. This can be accomplished by exposing them to the outside environment before planting by lengthening their number of hours of exposure gradually.
- Timely Transfer: The best time to transplant the vegetable seedlings into the natural environment in hot months is during overcast of cooler conditions. If it I always hot, avoid planting them in the middle of the day when the sun’s heat is at its greatest. If it is cooler time of year, then plant in the morning to take advantage of the sun’s heating power at its fullest. Don’t plant the seedlings too early – they should be transferred into your garden when enough leaves have already grown, which indicates that the seedling is mature enough to withstand the harsher conditions found in your garden.
Increase Survival Rate: You can increase the seedlings’ survival rate through boosting their system with the use of organic fertilizers. This will help them manage the change in temperature, lighting conditions and wind presence while their little roots are disturbed while transplanting. Enure they are watered prior to planting, so that they are not stressed ahead of transfer time.
- Transplant immediately: Seedlings from greenhouses should be immediately transferred into the soil as soon as they are pulled out from their seedling containers. This will prevent the seedlings from drying out and the roots being exposed to the elements, and give them the best chance of survival.
- Uproot Seedlings Carefully: If you are transplanting vegetable seedlings out of their containers, do it carefully to make sure that the roots are kept intact. If you can, keep some original soil with the roots. There are plantings tool that are specifically designed for uprooting seedlings; however, nothing can beat using your hands when transplanting seedlings and simply being careful with these delicate and fragile baby plants. Always take special care not to damage the roots or the rest of the plant during the transplanting process.
Regardless of how carefully you’ve transferred your vegetable seedlings into your garden, these plants will need some special attention until they have become more established. You should monitor their progress at this vulnerable stage and ensure that they are safe from the elements (eg. Too much heat, rain or frost), bugs (including slugs, snails and aphids), etc, to ensure that they will survive in their new environment.
It’s important that your newly transferred plants receive enough water, but not too much. Since it is unavoidable that a some of its root hairs will will be pulled off during the transfer, the remaining root hairs will have to provide the plant with all the water and nutrients it needs until new ones grow. This will mean that new transplants should be watered gently, just sufficient to moisten the ground.
The best indication that your seedling transfer was successful is the presence of new foliage. This is a clear sign that you were able to plant the seedling correctly.