9 rules for successful transplanting seedlings in open ground
Growing crops with a long growing season through seedlings is a painstaking process that takes more than one month. And, you see, it’s incredibly insulting when the results of our work perish in a matter of days. Seedlings grown on the windowsill, it is very difficult to rebuild and get used to a new habitat, although the conditions of open ground are much more natural for plants. At first, the seedlings will have a difficult adaptation, and our task is to do everything possible so that their survival rate approaches 100%. This is quite possible if you adhere to the recommendations of experienced gardeners.
1. Hardening seedlings - a mandatory procedure
To prepare seedlings for moving to a permanent place of residence in the garden begin in advance. The importance of this procedure is difficult to overestimate, because in the absence of preparation for transplanting, seedlings stop their development by an average of 10 days, metabolic processes deteriorate, and individual specimens can even die, unable to withstand a sharp change in conditions of detention.
About two weeks before the intended disembarkation, it is important to begin a procedure called “hardening”. Usually this process begins with the fact that the air temperature drops at night.
For heat-loving crops such as tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant and pumpkin crops, the night temperature should be + 12 ... + 14 degrees. For more cold-resistant vegetables, which include various types of cabbage and head of lettuce, the temperature can be reduced to + 6 ... + 8 degrees. Usually for these purposes, overnight plants are used on a glazed balcony.
About 5 days before planting, the plants are left on the street for a round-the-clock stay. To do this, they can be placed on the balcony or in the garden. In the latter case, it is better to place containers with seedlings under a canopy to avoid damage from possible rain showers.
During hardening, it is important to monitor the weather forecast to bring seedlings into the room in case of a threat of night frost. Also during this period it is advisable to water the plants a little less so that the root lump has time to dry between waterings.
Hardened seedlings are usually more stocky and hardy, and adapting to a new location is much faster. However, hardening seedlings for more than three weeks is undesirable, as this leads to stunting and loss of yield.
2. The optimal timing and time of landing
As a rule, many working summer residents are forced to coincide with a mass planting of seedlings for the May holidays. But the weather, despite the calendar of public holidays, is far from always conducive to planting plants in open ground.
Before deciding to land, it’s important to carefully study the weather forecast for the coming weeks to ensure that the threat of freezing frost is left behind. Also, rain showers and a squally wind will not contribute to good survival.
It is optimal to plant seedlings on beds on a cloudy day. If sunny weather is expected in the near future, then it is better to start landing in the afternoon or in the early evening.
If you do not plan to protect the newly planted plants from the sun, then the bright midday sunlight can leave burns on the leaves. In this regard, in the first half of the day it is better to prepare the beds - weed the weeds, loosen the soil, dig holes and, if necessary, add fertilizer to them. And to plant seedlings - in the late afternoon.
3. The age of seedlings is important!
Also, the May holidays may be an inappropriate time for planting seedlings due to the fact that the plants have not yet reached the most favorable age for planting in the ground.
The fact is that each culture has the most suitable period in which it is desirable to transplant to a permanent place, so that the plant is less sick and soon grows. As you know, transplanting overgrown seedlings will be more traumatic and the adaptation period may be delayed. But too young seedlings will not be able to adequately withstand the harsh conditions of open ground - the scorching sun, heavy rains and cooling.
Experienced gardeners found the most optimal time for planting vegetables in the ground. For tomato, depending on the ripening time, the following age indicators of seedlings are recommended:
- early ripe tomato varieties - 40-50 days;
- mid-season grades - 55-60 days;
- late ripe tomatoes - 70 days.
Roughly at this age, seedlings have 8-9 real leaflets, the number of which can be used to judge the readiness of tomatoes for planting on beds.
Approximate seedling age sweet pepper for planting in the ground - 50-65 days. As a rule, seedlings at this age have 8-9 leaves and numerous buds. Do not forget that the very first flower of sweet pepper is desirable to remove to increase the yield of the bush.
Most pumpkin crops (cucumber, zucchini, pumpkin, melon, squash, cucumber) do not tolerate transplanting, however, in regions with a cool climate, the seedling method is the only way to grow some late varieties of these vegetables.
Representatives of the family pumpkin it is best to take root if their age at the time of planting is 20-25 days, when 3-4 real leaves appeared on the seedlings. At an older age, the transplant will be too much stress, which will lead to a serious halt in growth or even death of plants.
Concerning watermelons, they are also often grown seedlings due to the fact that this southern plant takes a long time to form and ripen its fruits. Watermelon seedlings are planted on beds at the age of 30-35 days in the presence of 2–3 true leaves.
Departure Dates cabbage in open ground depends on the species, as well as the maturity of a particular variety. The age of seedlings of early and red cabbage is 45-60 days; mid-season white-headed - 35-45 days; late ripe white-headed - 30-35 days. The seedlings of Savoy cabbage are 35-50 days, broccoli 34-45 days, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower 44-50 days.
The youngest - at the age of 30 days from the moment of emergence of seedlings - seedlings of Beijing cabbage and kohlrabi are planted. In this case, white cabbage by this time develops 6-7 true leaves. And the Beijing, Brussels and red-headed real leaves can have 5-8 pieces.
For eggplant the most optimal age for transferring seedlings to open ground or to a greenhouse is at least 50 days (ideally 80 days). By this time, eggplant seedlings develop a strong root system and there are 6-8 leaves on the stem.
Read more about growing eggplant in the articles How to Grow Eggplant in the Open Field and Eggplant in a Greenhouse - the rules of cultivation and the best varieties.
4. The subtleties of transporting seedlings
Usually, before transplanting to a permanent place, our seedlings expect a long journey from the city to the country house, and, unfortunately, this road does not always go smoothly.
First of all, the difficulties with transportation concern the tomato. Often, tall tomato seedlings outgrow and have to contrive to bring fragile and long stalks intact. Sometimes the pallet is ideally suited to the size of the pots inside it, and they fit snugly together, which eliminates the possibility of them falling. But even in this case, during shaking on rough roads, long stems can bend and break on the edges of the tank.
Therefore, it is better to transport seedlings in tall boxes. In my practice, I have had successful experience transporting meter-long cherry tomatoes in a box from under a widescreen TV. If there is no container suitable for height, then a high peg can be placed in the central pot. The stems of all tomatoes in this case are connected by a wide ribbon of several turns, and the peg provides rigidity to such a “bouquet”.
When there are few overgrown tomatoes, it is better to transport them in a horizontal position, then the risk of stem damage is minimal. Especially valuable varieties for the entire length of the stem can also be wrapped with several layers of newspaper, which is fixed on the glass with the help of clerical gum.
If the seedlings still broke, then this does not always mean the loss of a seedling. When the stalk only bent in half, but did not come off completely, the seedling can be well tied to a support and the plant tissue will soon recover. If the sprout has broken off, then in tomatoes the broken part of the stem can be used as a stalk that quickly takes root. A broken pepper can have a new shoot from the root, but, of course, the crop will then be a little later.
5. Minimize root injury
It’s not news for anyone that the less injured the roots during planting, the higher the likelihood that the transplant will succeed, and ideally, the newcomer will not even notice the move.
The day before planting seedlings on the beds, pour plenty of plants with warm water with the addition of the drug “Kornevin” or “Heteroauxin”. During planting, gently squeeze the glass from all sides and turn it over so that the plant stalk is between your fingers, tap the bottom a little, after which the earthen lump will be in your palm.
In order not to injure the roots, it is better not to tear apart the earthen lump if it is densely braided by roots. Over time, the root system will independently determine that it has appeared in more spacious conditions and will begin to expand in breadth. But if you observe a long stem root in the seedlings, then it is better to pinch its tip a little for better branching.
In order to plant plants growing in a common box with thickened sowing as quickly and easily as possible, the container is abundantly filled with water for about one hour. After the soil in the box is well saturated with moisture, the common root lump is neatly divided into several parts (so that it is convenient to hold the dividend in your hands) and pokes off with a small spatula.
After this, the plants are placed in a bucket of water, where the woven roots can be carefully separated from each other. Usually, if you chat a little seedlings in the water, the soil is washed off and to separate the roots with minimal damage will not be difficult.
6. We plant seedlings in a permanent place correctly
Two to three days before the seedlings are transferred to a permanent place, they are required to feed them, which will provide seedlings with basic nutrients, making them stronger for adaptation to new growth conditions.
For these purposes, you can use complex mineral fertilizers containing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Moreover, it is best to choose instant forms that are also intended for feeding seedlings (Fertika, Aquarin, Mortar, Crystal) or the classic options: superphosphate, ammonium nitrate, nitrophosphate or potassium sulfate.
As practice shows, such top dressing reduces the survival time of seedlings in a new place and increases the percentage of plants that have taken root. During seedling transplanting, it is very important to ensure that there are no air voids between the roots and the ground, for this a digging hole corresponding to the root coma is dug, and after planting, it is important to compact the soil around the seedling with your hands.
Seedlings of cucumbers and cabbage can be buried by about one centimeter. And tomatoes will only be pleased if the overgrown stem is covered with soil even halfway.
Peppers and eggplants with a lignified base, on the contrary, it is important to plant at the same depth at which they grew in a pot. After planting, pour plenty of seedlings with warm water and mulch to avoid the formation of a crust, which prevents breathing and is one of the most common causes of death of seedlings.
This measure is especially relevant on heavy loam. As a mulching material, humus, peat or straw is suitable.
7. Protecting seedlings from the sun
Even if the windows containing the seedlings face south, the light level in the room is much lower than in open ground. Therefore, if planting fell on hot sunny days, it is better to take care of the temporary shading of the planted seedlings.
Sunburns look like whitish necrotic spots on the leaves. Sometimes burns are so intense that this leads to a strong weakening, and often to the death of plants.
A white non-woven material (agrospan, lutrasil, etc.) is ideally suited as a shading material. For protection from the sun, fabric of the lowest density is chosen - 17-30 g m2. The material is pulled onto arcs or a structure is constructed according to the type of canopy. Shelter is removed as soon as the "new settlers" have taken root and have grown.
8. If the seedlings outgrew ...
In overgrown tomato seedlings, spiral landing is often practiced. When a long stalk spirally fits into the landing pit, and each turn is neatly sprinkled with earth. In this case, a deepened stem will very quickly overgrow with new roots, and such a powerful root system will provide the plant with nutrition as much as possible.
Another method of planting overgrown seedlings, which is suitable not only for tomatoes, but also for other crops, is planting at an angle of 45 degrees. In this case, they usually try to arrange the seedlings so that the tops look north or west, then the plants will soon rise and straighten, following the sun.
Overgrown seedlings take root much more difficult, therefore, for such seedlings it is better to use anti-stress drugs, for example, Epin-Extra.
9. How to find out that seedlings have taken root?
Usually, the first time after planting, the plant throws all its forces into adaptation and its growth completely stops. A sign that the move was successful and the seedling has settled in a new place is the appearance of young foliage, which for the first time will differ in color from the old leaves.