Transplanting Seedlings to More Favorable Beds

| 4/12/2016 3:26:00 PM

Tags: transplanting, spring, garden planning, seed starting, seedlings, repurposing, upcycling, Laura Berlage, Wisconsin,

young brassica seedlings

Spring is coming.  I keep telling myself that, despite the squalls of snow and the slushy roads.  Spring is coming, despite the frozen ground in the morning and the frost spiraling on the walls of the high tunnel.  The days are lengthening, new birds are returning each day, and the drumming of the Ruffed Grouse echoes through the farm like the sound of a distant motor starting.

But cold snaps in April are common here.  The old adage is to wait on planting warm-loving crops until Memorial weekend, which still often holds true.  The short growing season means that day-length sensitive plants (once it is safe for them to grow outside) shoot up with amazing speed, showing noticeable maturity from day to day.  Ever seen what happens when you waited maybe just six hours too long to go pick the zucchini?

Even with our incredibly long summer days, the shortness of the growing season as a whole is a disadvantage to many crops.  That means fibbing with nature and starting plants inside to get ahead of the setbacks.  This way, months of establishing roots and growing stocky shoots that can withstand a little cold has already taken place before exposure to outside weather.  But there’s definitely work involved.

First, we start the seeds inside the aquaponics greenhouse (much like any other baby plant being prepared for the system), but that space only lasts about two weeks before the plants are vying for sunlight and root space.  At that point, it’s time to break up the party and move the seedlings into a larger growing venue.  In the greenhouse, this means breaking the cells apart carefully and “planting” them into a raft tray or a media bed.  But for plants destined for the garden, it’s still too cold out. 

That’s when it’s time to start making transplant pots.  Of course, there are plenty of nice products you can buy (like peat pots) for this purpose, but when you’re transplanting hundreds of seedlings, this can be an expensive proposition.  I’m always interested in repurposing everyday items once they’ve served their original purpose, and transplanting season is one of those times where this upcycling transformation occurs.

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