Protecting Your Transplants

A broccoli plant protected by a milk carton.

If you have ever transplanted young plants into your garden, you know all of the challenges of keeping those plants alive so they can develop into hardy, mature vegetable plants. Over the years I have tried several ways of protecting the young plants, but the best method I’ve found so far is to simply place a milk carton around the plant. This was something my grandparents always did to protect their young plants until they were well established, and I have just not been able to find anything cheaper, or better, for serving this purpose.

I collect cardboard milk cartons all year-long to use as  protective shells for my transplants. I start by cutting the top and bottom off of the milk carton. Then, I wash the carton and allow it to air dry. Once they are dry, I place them in storage until its time to plant.

Milk cartons are a great way to protect your transplants from all of the forces of mother nature. They can help in several different ways…

– They provide protection from the cold wind
– They help support the plants
– When using row cover, they help keep the row cover from crushing the plants
– They make it difficult for animals to eat the plants
– They protect the plants from the sun and heat

Lettuce Transplant

Placing the milk carton over a lettuce plant

Placing a milk carton around a lettuce plant

Push the milk carton down into the soil, to help keep it in place.

Depending on the type of the plants, I will sometimes cut the milk cartons in half.

Lots of broccoli and cabbage plants protected by milk cartons.

Lots of broccoli and cabbage plants protected by milk cartons.

Once the plants get well established I will remove the milk cartons from around the plants. The milk cartons, if stored in a dry location, can be reused for a few seasons. The only exception to this is when used around broccoli. I usually just leave the broccoli grow up through the milk carton and don’t attempt to remove the carton until the life cycle of the plant has expired.

The use of milk cartons is an inexpensive way to protect your young plants. Plus, it looks like your growing milk!

Happy growing….

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6 thoughts on “Protecting Your Transplants

  1. It’s a very good idea! I’m preparing the soil outside right now and soon I’ll start with transplanting my new veggies. Definitely trying this good idea and I’m surely recommending it to my sister. Thank you for sharing this great and useful info!

  2. Pingback: Protecting Your Transplants | The Year Round Harvest – WORLD ORGANIC NEWS

    • It’s not a real great reason, but the broccoli grows tall enough to pass through the top of the carton before it forms a head. Unlike cabbage and lettuce that like to spread out as they grow, so I remove the cartons from those. Just no reason to remove it from the broccoli.

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