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.

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Garden Update – 9-13-12

Rows of green beans in the garden.

Over the last few weeks we have been busy planting a few rows a week, in preparation for our winter garden. While our thoughts are on a winter garden a majority of our time has been spent harvesting and maintaining our current garden plots.

With the exception of our lettuce crop and one bad tomato plant, our gardens have been doing great this year. As you can see in the picture above, our green beans we planted at the end of July have really grown, we just started harvesting beans this week.

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Garden Update – 8-15-12

Garden plot with green beans.With the extremely warm days behind us, we have had some really nice weather the last week or so. Unlike much of the country we have been receiving a good rain storm every few days, which is really helping the vegetables grows.

As you can see in the picture above, the green beans l planted a few weeks ago are really off to a good start. If things continue to go well we should have a really nice crop of green beans come fall.

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Spring Garden Update: 5-18-12

We had some great weather recently and our garden is really growing. The perfect combination of warmer weather and rain, what more can you ask for?

I have already harvested some spinach and arugula from our spring planting. It is a great feeling to sit down at a meal and eat something that you grew from seeds in your own backyard. I wish more people could experience this feeling.

Close up of some lettuce plants

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Transplanting Heirloom Tomatoes

Once my heirloom tomato plants start to grow their second set of true leaves, I transplant them from the small seed starting cells to larger pots.

Tomato Transplant

The transplant mixture that I use in the new pots is a combination of my standard seed starting mix and perlite. I usually mix about 4 parts seed starting mix to 1 part perlite. After the mixture is combined I wet it with water before placing it in the pots.

Transplant Mix

I place a little transplant mixture in the bottom of each pot. Note: make sure that whatever pot you use, there is a drainage hole in the bottom. I usually use a pot that is between 3 inches and 4 inches in diameter at the top. I have used a wide variety of pots over the years, from yogurt cups to standard green plastic pots. Recently I have been using a natural, biodegradable, and OMRI listed pot, they work really well.

Tray of transplant pots.

Once I remove the transplant from the seed starting cell I cut off the bottom leaves from the transplant. When I place the transplant in the new pot I make sure to bury the stem deeper then it previously was, to help encourage the development of a stronger root system. I only let the top leaves and a little of the stem stick above the mixture in the pot.

Tomato transplant with lower leaves removed.

Note: make sure to move the plant labels with the transplant so you don’t forget what was planted in the pot. I place the completed transplants back into the seed starting tray and place them under the grow lights. In a few weeks they should be ready to harden off outside.

Tray of completed tomato transplants.

Happy Growing…