How to transplant seedlings, vegetable seedlings can be grown in seedbeds, or for those with little time (or just a little laziness) they can be purchased in the nursery. Once we have the seedlings ready, it’s time for transplanting.
Transplanting is a simple but not trivial operation: it is a delicate moment for the young plant, which suddenly finds itself in a new environment, exposed to atmospheric agents and climatic changes never known before. For this, you need to have the right precautions, so as not to damage the root system and minimize the shock to the plant. It should be known that if the plant undergoes trauma during transplantation or in the first period of stay in the garden, it can suffer damage that affects its future development. For this it may be useful to give some advice on how to best perform the transplant.
The transplanting of vegetable seedlings is usually done with seedlings in earthen bread, grown in honeycomb containers. Bare root transplantation is not convenient for vegetables, since they are transplanted when they are very young and have very delicate roots, while fruit plants can be transplanted with bare roots, being more resistant.
Transplant at the right time
Age of the plant. The first necessary care is to understand the right moment to transplant: the plant must not stay too long in the jar, otherwise it suffers from a lack of space and nutrients: it develops its roots badly, tangling them and will have yellowing of the leaves due to the deficiency of nutrients. However, it must not be planted too young either: if it were without roots of a certain consistency, it would have a hard time getting out of the earthen bread and taking root correctly in the ground.
Choosing plants in nurseries. When we buy the seedlings we need to know how to choose them: they need to be nice and robust and with some leaves but not excessively developed so that the roots are ready to be planted in the ground. You can read on our website three criteria for choosing the plants to buy.
The period in which to transplant. The outdoor climate must be adequate, with temperatures in which the seedling can do well. If a seedling is transplanted too early, the cold at night can compromise its health. For this reason, it is essential to carry out the transplant in the indicated period, each vegetable has its right moment for planting. For this purpose, you can consult the calendar of transplants, taking into account however that each area has its own climatic peculiarities.
The right day. To transplant the soil must be “in tempera”, it is necessary to avoid doing the work in correspondence with rains, which make the soil muddy. The ground must not even be completely dry, in case it is better to wet it a little.
Avoid too hot. The transplant must not be carried out on days that are too hot with strong sun exposure so that the plant is not subjected to dryness and excessive heat as soon as it is planted. For this reason, it is generally better to do the transplants in the garden in the evening or in any case in cool moments.
Preparing the land- How to transplant seedlings
Working the soil. We must choose and prepare the soil to transplant first, perhaps fertilizing according to the needs of our crop, but making sure to use mature and ready manure. It is advisable to do this work a little in advance, digging a week or two before planting. A good digging ensures proper drainage of the garden bed and our seedlings will find soft and loose soil, so it is important to work in-depth, breaking up the clods. It is also necessary to remove any roots and stones and refine the seedbed, leveling it with a rake.
Spread the mulch sheet. If you want to mulch with a sheet, the right time to do it is after working the soil, spreading the film on the leveled seedbed. Once the seedlings have been transplanted, it will no longer be possible to mulch with the cloth, it will instead be possible to cover the soil with straw.
The actual planting
Remove the seedling from the tray. When extracting the seedling from the jar, the utmost care must be taken not to damage the tiny roots of the young seedling. Better to give the plant watering to make it easier to extract it, if you use the classic black plastic honeycomb containers it is useful to squeeze them a little by pressing lightly on the bottom to detach the ground bread and try to pull it out completely together with the plant. At this point you must always handle the seedling for the earthen bread, avoiding holding it by the stem.
Choose the distances. The seedlings should be placed in the garden at the right distance from each other, it is very important to prevent them from competing with each other for light and nutrients as they grow (to learn more, read the article on the correct distances between plants). Each vegetable has a recommended sixth of planting: the larger the plants developed, the more appropriate it is to space them out during sowing or transplanting. So let’s make the holes where we are going to insert the plants.
Plant the plant. At this point we can finally plant: we gently place the plant in its hole, which must contain the earthen bread. In doing so we keep the bread of earth intact so as not to damage any roots. The plant must be grounded at the level of the collar, we cover it by keeping it well erect in the stem.
Compact the earth and water. After planting, we crush the earth around the seedling so as not to leave air, to immediately put the roots in contact with their new environment. We then proceed to wet the ground, making it fall a moderate jet from above so that even the water can help compact the earth.
Post transplant care
After carrying out the transplant, there is a delicate moment in which the plant has to acclimate to the new conditions and understand that the world is much larger than that small tray it had known so far.
Watering of seedlings. The seedlings need abundant irrigation after transplanting and a constant supply in the following days since their roots are not yet well developed and therefore they are unable to obtain water by going deep. It should therefore be watered often, even if it is useful not to overdo the frequency and quantity of watering: if the plant always has water available it will not develop the roots while a short shortage can “educate” the plant to grow out of its bread of earth.
Beware of snails. Snails are greedy for young and tender leaves and if they go to eat those of the newly transplanted seedlings they can irreversibly damage them. For this reason, it is good to be careful, an excellent precaution is to put a few days before planting a trap like a lima trap or made with beer.
Transplant shock and how to avoid it
After transplanting, it is normal for the transplanted seedling to suffer a little shock and need a few days to recover and grow with renewed vigor. If you find seedlings a little out of shape and with low leaves the day after you planted them, don’t worry. If we have done things right the plants will recover within two or three days and then become healthy and robust crops. However, there are some precautions that can reduce this state of suffering.
Acclimatize the seedlings. To reduce transplant shock, it may be correct to acclimate the seedlings, leaving them outside for one or two more days in the jars, before transplanting them. In this way, they will be able to acclimatize before coming out of the tray.
Use humus. Earthworm humus is ideal for reducing transplant stress. The use of humus is highly recommended both in the soil of the seedbed and in the hole where you insert the new plant. A handful of humus in the hole provides nutrients within root reach and helps keep the soil around the young root system moist. Unlike other fertilizers, you don’t have to worry about any excessive quantities or direct contact with plant parts.
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