Monday, April 6, 2009

Garden Tips: Transplanting Seedlings

The lyric sound of laughter fills all the April hills. The joy-song of the crocus, The mirth of daffodils. ~Clinton Scollard

Once your area is free of frost you'll be ready to plant out your seedlings, but first you will need to prepare them for the change from inside to outside.

The New Seed Starters Handbook by Nancy Bubel recommends starting your hardening off process inside by placing the pots/flats in a cool part of the house, stop watering or fertilizing too, for about a week before you want to start taking them outside.
IF you are growing your seedlings in a flat or larger container where they don't have a separation then take a knife and cut around each seedling in a cube shape. This will cut any roots that have mingled with roots from the seedling next to it.

After a week or so of this treatment you can start to move your plants outside to a sheltered, shady area for a few hours, then bring them back in. Each day leave them out longer. After about a week or ten days the seedlings should be able to take full sun--but you'll need to watch them carefully so they don't dry out. When it's time to transplant, look for a cloudy day, not a hot, sunny day. Transplanting will cause some shock to the seedlings no matter what, but a calm, rather cloudy day will help.

There are hundreds of different tips for transplanting your new seedlings. Every gardener has their own technique that they've developed through trial and error. Some mix compost into each hole (which should be larger than the root area of each seedling). If you do this, mix it in the bottom of the hole, then replace a little of the soil on top of that before putting in the seedling. Have your hose, or watering can next to you so you can water each seedling as you plant it, rather than waiting for the entire group or row to be planted. Plan on about a quart of water for each one. Either water the plant gently BEFORE you put on the top layer of soil, or gently fill the hole with soil, and leave a little impression at the top. You can then water it slowly so it soaks into the roots.

One more note-- The soil that you fill back into the hole should be clump and stone free. You can even mix in some new top soil to the garden soil if you wish.

Good basic information on going organic:


  1. Thank you for these tips. I forgot about doing it on a cloudy day. Will write myself a note about that in my gardening notes.

  2. Thank you Brenda, I plan to do this if it ever gets warm here! :-p


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