The Transplanting Experts
The Transplanting Experts (cough cough)
I don't know about you, but there is something satisfying about straight rows of green newly transplanted seedlings on the rich brown of garden beds. Looking back makes all the work worthwhile!
Most of the plants we grow in our garden have what we call a fiberous root system. Instead of having a taproot that goes deep down into the soil, the roots spread outward and downward, creating a kind of mat of roots. A fiberous root system is made up of many tiny almost transparent roots which mat together to help secure the plant and to draw in its water and nutrients.
When these roots grow out and touch the walls of your punnet or pot, they start to spiral around the pot as they continue to grow. We all know what a rootbound plant looks like. Not good. The ideal time for us to transplant is when there are enough roots to hold all the soil together in the punnet or pot (so that we can carefully pull it out by the stem), but before it gets rootbound.
One day, we only had a few minutes of worktime left, but we needed to urgently plant a bed of broccoli (120 plants). Hannah and I went at it with a will, and finished it in 9 minutes instead of the normal 20! But sadly, seedlings aren't like tomato stakes that you can just whack in the ground.
When we hastily bunged them in, we were not exactly careful with their root systems, we destroyed many of those fine roots, and so their growth was affected. Thankfully, plants are designed tough. Most survived, but may not have thrived as they could have.
So, the moral of the story is - be gentle when transplanting! Make a little hole a bit deeper than the seedling's root/soil mass, gently place the plant in the hole, gently cover with soil (no need to press the soil down!), water them straight away (very very important, especially when the soil is dry), and Bob's your uncle!
Oh, and it's best to transplant on cool overcast days if possible - if its hot and sunny, provide the little seedlings with some shade (and plenty of water at their roots) for a few days...
Ella and Hannah