Tuesday’s Tips — Transplants

There’s no theme or focus today, just a little of this and a little of that — kind of like what’s going on in my head today.

Tip #1 — Getting Transplants Off to a Healthy Start

Now that we’re all scrambling to get our baby plants in the ground, here are a few tips to help you do it right.

  • Make sure your soil is loose and friable — which means crumbly. Vegetables have very fine root hairs and need a looser soil structure to be able to grow well. This is especially true of carrots which will get gnarly if they encounter anything in the path of their root as they grow.
  • Amend your soil before you put in your transplants, but don’t put anything in the hole you dig for your plants. That means no fertilizer (dry fertilizer will burn the roots killing the plant) and no weird additions that your grandmother swears by. New research by the folks at the University of California shows that plants do best with nothing but the dirt you just dug up around their roots.
  • Now you can fertilize your plant, but only a little bit! To help your starts recover from transplant shock, mix a little fish emulsion into a watering can or bucket and water in your transplants. Use just enough fish emulsion to color the water.
  • Don’t forget to water your babies well over the next couple of weeks. Never let them completely dry out. Once they are established, you can water less frequently.

Tip #2 — Keeping Container Plants Watered

One of the big issues with containers is keeping them moist enough throughout the dog days of summer. To that end we suggest mixing water absorbing granules into your potting soil. We have been using Soil Moist in our pots and it works like a charm. But we only use it with ornamentals, never with edibles because it’s petroleum-based.

We recently heard about another product by Zeba called Quench which is an “all natural, starch-based product.” It supposedly releases water into the soil more readily than the petroleum-based products. A grower we talked to at a well-known nursery swears by the stuff. So we’ll be giving it a try it in our containers this summer.

Mix it into your soil according to the package directions. Use only the amount specified — more is not better. Use even a little bit more than you’re supposed to and the granules will swell up and push your plant right out of the pot! It should cut down your container’s water requirements significantly and save you from coming home one blazing afternoon to droopy or, worse yet, dead plants.

That’s all we’ve got for this week. Happy gardening!

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