I’m so sorry I missed you all yesterday. It was one of those life days where nothing gardening gets a look in, except maybe to squirt some water in the direction of seedlings in the greenhouse! But that is ok because a garden is a forgiving place, nobody died so all is ok.
So, this week we have some interesting tips for preparing for planting out. Firstly, you can’t just take your plants out of the greenhouse or warm indoor spot and plonk them in the garden. It would be like jumping headfirst into an icy lake. The difference in temperature and environment will be too much of a shock for them and can temporarily stall their growth. You need to harden them off.
To harden off your seedlings:
· Start by putting them outside in a nice warm sunny spot, sheltered from the wind for the nicer part of the day, then bring them back inside.
· The next day put them out for longer in a spot that has a bit more exposure to the elements with a bit of a breeze.
· Each day gradually expose them to conditions that will be like their new home in the garden and towards the end of the week give them a few overnight stays. Although watch out for frosts or stormy conditions.
· A soak in Thrive Natural Seaweed Tonic before planting reduces the risk of transplant shock and helps those roots to settle in.
· When the time comes to plant them in the garden, they shouldn’t even notice they’ve moved.
To keep your seedlings safe as they go through this process:
· Keep an eye out for slugs and snails that can make your tender young seedlings disappear without a trace.
· Keep them well watered as a warm and windy afternoon can dry out small pots causing seedlings to wilt. If the soil does dry out, soak the whole pot in a bucket of water… let the pot sink naturally and leave for 10 minutes after you see no more bubbles appearing.
· Don’t start the process if the weather is still too cold or inconsistent. Temperatures should be warm and stable. Seedlings can sulk if it is still too cold, and some may never recover. Plants planted at the right time will always outperform those planted too soon.
· If there is a really cold day in the middle of your process then keep them indoors that day and carry on when it is warm again.
· You don’t need to rush this process, if your seedlings are too small then it won’t hurt to wait a week or two… in fact you will be doing your plants a favour.
Now is also a good time for putting up your structures and frames, if you haven’t already. It is no good putting them in after you have planted the plants as there is too much risk of damage to the plant.
I hope this all helps.
In my garden I have hauled out all my stakes, poles and nets and will begin the process of setting them up across the garden. My tomatoes are grown on a waratah stake and clothesline arrangement that looks like a fence. That way I can tie in the wayward laterals when I invariably miss them. The cucumbers and melons have a waratah and plastic trellis system and the zucchini get lashed to a waratah as it grows. I’m also building a couple arches for luffas and Zucchetta Tromboncino to languish upon. My staking materials are heavy duty, but it is really brutal out where we live, and bamboo poles just don’t cut it!
I will begin the hardening off process this week, although I may pay the teen lad to do the in and outing with all the plants – there are just so many of them!
Happy gardening and as always – if you want to get in touch leave a comment below.
Sarah the Gardener : o)
Image: all of the extra seedlings I don't need, in their paper cups waiting for new homes.