Transplanting rules

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first_imgBy Dan RahnUniversity of GeorgiaMany vegetable plants start life indoors, then move outside tothe garden. For those plants, a University of Georgia scientistsays some transplanting rules of thumb can make your garden muchmore successful.Leaving the plants outside for a few days will harden them offand get them ready for transplanting, said George Boyhan, aCooperative Extension horticulturist with the UGA College ofAgricultural and Environmental Sciences.”Hardening” is the process of lowering the temperature orwithholding some water, or both, to thicken the cuticle, or theplant’s waxy outer layer.”The longer the flats of plants have been outside, especiallyovernight,” Boyhan said, “the less shock the transplants willhave to withstand.”But first …For the best gardening success, he said, start with a soil test.Your county UGA Cooperative Extension office has materials andinstructions for collecting a soil sample.”This will help determine what fertilizer to add, and how much,and if the soil pH should be adjusted,” Boyhan said.Follow up with soil preparation. “A well-prepared garden ofloose, moist soil will help the transplants adjust to their newhome,” he said.Then thoroughly soak the plants in the flats. That will help thesoil and roots stay together as tightly as possible when youremove each plant from its container.Hairs?Transplant on a cloudy, wind-free day if you can, Boyhan said. Ordo it late in the afternoon when the sun has begun to set. Keepas much soil as you can around the root ball. This will preventroot damage, particularly to the root hairs, and allow the plantto overcome transplant shock faster.The plant takes up water and nutrients through the root hairs, hesaid. They’re the feeders on the regular roots. And they’re sosmall that they generally can’t be seen.Set the root ball carefully in the hole. Fill in the soil, andfirm it well so the roots make good contact with the soil. Theplants should be slightly deeper than they grew in the flat.Tomatoes can be planted much deeper than they grew in the flat.SoakingThen give the transplants a good soaking in their new home.Direct the water flow around the base of the plant. But try notto get the water on the leaves and stems.”Using a high-phosphorus, water-soluble fertilizer such as8-45-14 to water in new transplants can dramatically help get theplants off to a good start,” Boyhan said. “This is particularlytrue in early spring, when soil temperature can be relativelylow.”Young transplants need watering the first three or four days, hesaid, until they become established. This can be critical inMarch and early April, when the wind can dry the plants and soilquickly.(Dan Rahn is a news editor with the University of GeorgiaCollege of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)last_img

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