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How We Transplant Vegetable Plugs

| 5/7/2014 9:22:00 AM

Handle your plugs like this

There are clear signs that your plugs are ready to transplant to larger containers. The most visible is the presence of true leaves. These are the leaves that grow following the cotyledons. Cotyledons are embryonic leaves, the first set of leaves to appear after a seed germinates. They look like rabbit ears, with an ovate shape and smooth margins. True leaves have the shape of leaves on the mature plant, only smaller. You can recognize the true leaves on a tomato transplant because they have indented margins.   If you handle your plugs with care you can move them when they have only one set of true leaves, but it is more common to transplant when there are two sets because the plugs are sturdier at this stage. You can transplant the plugs of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants for several weeks after they enter the true leaf stage. The plugs begin to lose their well-balanced, fresh, new look, but you can still produce a good plant with larger, older plugs.

Handle Plugs with Care

Handle your plugs with care when you transplant. They are delicate, and you can damage the stems or pull out the roots, setting back or permanently damaging the plant. The best way is to pull them gently where the leaves meet the stem, without applying too much pressure. Stems are responsible for the movement of fluids through the plant. In general, a good stem means a good plant. If you squeeze too tightly you’ll harm the stem, so work slowly and carefully until you develop a knack for handling your plugs.

If you find that your plugs are not releasing from your transplant trays without tearing, try using a tool to dislodge them. We scoop ours out using oyster shuckers, which have small knobs for handles and dull blades. They are ideal for the job.

Plant Deeply

Dibbers make nicely formed holes

When transplanting, deeper is better. When you transplant a vegetable plug you give it a new beginning, a chance to form an improved, strong, even perfect structure. Bends in the stems can be corrected by deep planting. Deeply planted tomatoes develop a larger root system, because the tiny hairs you see along the stem are adventitious roots. All they need to begin growing is contact with soil. You can transplant almost the length of the stem, leaving just one or two sets of true leaves above the soil level.

7/1/2017 2:59:58 PM

When transplanting tomato seedlings, for example, what size pot or tray cell do you transplant them into? Also, I'm in a community garden where we grow seedlings in a glass greenhouse for the members, and when they're ready, we move them from the greenhouse to an open air lath house for members to take them and put them in their garden plots. How big should they be when we move them to the lath house? Could youy also comment on other types of veggies such as lettuce and chard? Thank you!

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