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Exactly How to Transplant From Soil to Hydroponics

One way to grow plants hydroponically is to start them off growing in soil and transplant them to a hydroponic system. However, most beginner growers report transplanting failures, which makes them wonder if they have done it incorrectly. Before transplanting from soil to hydroponics, it is essential to know the steps to take to do so correctly.

So, how do you transplant from soil to hydroponics? There are seven simple steps to follow when transplanting from soil to hydroponics:

  1. Extract the plant from the soil
  2. Remove the soil around the roots
  3. Rinse the plant
  4. Put the plant in a hydroponic chamber
  5. Carefully insert your plant into your chosen medium
  6. Add water into the water reservoir
  7. Add the nutrients into the water

Although planting plants from soil to hydroponics might appear to be simple, you have to know precisely how to perform the steps. This will help you avoid common mistakes that some gardeners make. In this article, you will learn how to transplant your plants from soil to hydroponics correctly, plants that are easy to transplant, and more!

How to Transplant Plant From Soil to Hydroponics

Before starting the transplant, you should ensure that the plants are mature enough to handle the transition. The signs of seedling maturity depend on the particular plant, but in most cases, the stem hardens. You can use the steps in this article for clones, as well.

So, if you are sure your plant is ready, you can proceed to the next steps:

1. Extract the Plant From the Soil

You need to carefully remove your plant from the soil if you want the roots to remain intact. Instead of pulling them out quickly, loosen the soil around the plant first. You can do this with a shovel, spade, or by massaging the soil with your hands if it’s soft enough.

Careful extraction enhances the chances of your plant surviving the transplant. However, if it gets damaged in the process, the plant will struggle to heal, which will compromise the transplanting process.

2. Remove the Soil Around the Roots

After proper extraction, you need to remove the soil still on the roots. You can start softly massaging the soil out of the roots until the roots resemble a dirty brush. To eliminate the stuck dirt almost completely, you can choose to dip the roots in water or spray them clean.

If you choose to dip the roots in water, you’ll do some massaging until the roots come out clean. If you decide to spray the roots, you can use a hose with average spraying pressure. But you still have some more cleaning to do —

3. Rinse the Plant

Some pests might have settled on the plant leaves, and you don’t want to transfer plants to hydroponics with parasites attached to them. So, you can drown the plant or spray the plant from the top to the roots. You can also use neem oil to remove any traces of pest existence after rinsing.

4. Put the Plant in a Hydroponic Chamber

Now, it’s time to put the plant in the hydroponic chamber, but before you add the medium, spread the roots first. When the roots spread, they’ll all come into contact with the growing medium to facilitate maximum development.

5. Carefully Insert Your Plant into Your Chosen Medium

While the plant settles at the center of the hydroponic chamber with its roots spread, carefully place the growing medium so that you don’t damage the roots. Add the medium evenly until the plant is stable and ready to accommodate water without falling.

6. Add Water into the Water Reservoir

Add water to your reservoir as needed by your plant. Ensure that the water doesn’t destabilize your plant. If more medium is required to offer stability, add it.

7. Add the Nutrients into the Water

Feed the plant as per the instructions that the nutrient manufacturer states. Don’t overload or underfeed; put the required amount using the measuring items provided. If you are using your homemade nutrient solution, avoid the temptation of adding too much of it. We’ll discuss why later in this article.

Now, you can watch your plant grow successfully!

Tips for a Successful Transplant From Soil to Hydroponics

To successfully transplant from soil to hydroponics, you need to know some crucial dos and don’ts.

Avoid Transplanting Shock

Many novice gardeners think transplant shock is only caused by rough handling of a seedling, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Sudden changes in environmental conditions can cause transplanting shock. This could be a change in lighting or humidity, among other things. It can contribute to either stunted growth in a plant or failure to survive entirely.

To avoid transplant shock:

  • Ensure that the hydroponic conditions aren’t too different from the soil conditions.
  • Confirm that your plants are healthy and mature enough for transplanting.
  • Ensure that your hydroponic growing media is well prepared.

Don’t Let Light into Your Reservoir

In any reservoir, light is all algae needs to grow. According to Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences article, “Algae Growth and Reaction Conditions,” algae can use one-tenth of sunlight to grow. This means that, as long as a little sunlight or grow light is penetrating your reservoir, you’ll have algae problems.

Algae uses the nutrients meant for your plants, making them grow more slowly than they should or even kill them altogether. Therefore, ensure that there’s no space that light can consistently leak in.

Keep an Optimal Solution Temperature

The temperature of your water plus nutrient solution should stay between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. This is to avoid the burning or freezing of the roots. If you let them burn or freeze, the transplant might fail since nutrients will be unable to be absorbed efficiently.

Leave the Plant in the Dark

For a few hours, leave the plant in a dimly-lit area so that it can adjust easily. Roots do not need light to develop, so you can choose to plant in the evening, which will allow your plant transition at night. Even better, if you can minimize the light your plants receive for three to four days after transplanting, the better.

Create a Similarly Fertilized Nutrient Solution

Nutrients are essential for a plant’s healing and subsequent growth, but they can be dangerous, too. If the plant meets a more nutrient-concentrated environment, they can experience overnutrition, as “How Does Over-Fertilized Soil Actually Kill a Plant?” Overnutrition is more hazardous than undernutrition, which may be scaring you most.

If you used to measure the nutrients available in the soil before transplanting, be sure to keep the same levels during the transplant. This will help your plant take to hydroponic growth more quickly, after which you can start adding the required nutrients. Always remember: it’s better to under-fertilize than to overfertilize.

Properly Time Your Planting

Plants transplant best during the seedling and vegetative stages. Don’t wait for them to near the flowering stage or transplant them when they have just germinated because this lowers the plants’ chance of survival.

Moreover, the recovery of the plants after transplanting may take longer than it should, which will slow down the hydroponic growth rate.

Take as Many Roots as You Can

Although transplanting shock isn’t necessarily caused by rough handling of the roots, it’s vital to carry as many roots as possible to the hydroponic system.

The roots and root hairs furthest from the root ball play a considerable role in providing water and nutrients to the plant. In fact, the function of root hairs is to absorb water and nutrients from the plants. Therefore, these are the parts of the plant that will aid in the water and nutrient intake during the transplanting and beyond. So, the more the roots you bring over during the transplant, the easier the transition.

Eliminate Dead Parts

If it’s dead or going to die, it needs to be removed. Plants don’t like carrying dead weight with them, so if you find yellow leaves at the bottom of the plant’s seedling, trim them. This will ensure that the energy supplied through nutrients goes to recovery and growth instead of feeding dead parts.

Sterilize the New Environment

Before taking your vulnerable plants to their new home, ensure that it’s clean. If there’s dirt in or around your hydroponic system, it’ll likely attract pests and diseases. This poses a problem since your newly transplanted plant will strive to battle pest and disease, causing stagnation or even death.

Plants That Transplant Well From Soil to Hydroponics

Some plants, like root tubers, don’t do well with transplanting. In hydroponics, they struggle as well and might stagnate in growth when transplanted. However, many plants transfer from soil to hydroponics well, such as:

Spring Onions

The spring or green onion is one of the easiest plants to grow hydroponically, and they are effortless to transplant from the soil as well. Even better, you can transplant them in hydroponics when they are almost mature. If you use the leaves, you can cut them off before transplanting so they can start anew.

Check out how to transplant spring onions from soil to hydroponics:

Peppers

Whether you wish to transplant sweet or hot peppers, you can be confident that they’ll survive the transition. Their ability to acclimate to several environments makes it easy to shift them from the farm to your indoor hydroponics garden during winter. In fact, many hydroponic enthusiasts use peppers to show the soil to hydro transplanting procedure.

Here’s one video on how to transplant pepper from soil to hydroponics:

Spinach

Don’t let the delicate nature of this plant fool you, spinach transplants very well. It can easily survive in its new location if you don’t destroy its roots or leaves. Also, spinach transitions well even if you transplant its seedlings early if they’ve been hardened off, according to the University of Maryland Extension. Other leafy vegetables that do well after transplanting include kale and cabbage.

Tomatoes

Tomato plants are one of the easiest to transplant in hydroponics. The seedlings are usually balanced even in their early stages of germination, so they take transplanting well.

According to The National Gardening Association’s article, “Repotting and Transplanting Tomato Seedlings,” tomato plants are ready to transplant when they are at least six inches tall. However, they also state that you can transplant them after they produce their second pair of leaves.

Check out how this hydroponic grower transplanted tomatoes from soil to hydro:

Many herbs don’t mind being transplanted, and mint is one of them. Therefore, if you start your mint plants in soil, don’t be scared to transplant them in hydroponics since they’ll pick up incredibly well and continue growing.

Other herbs you can easily transplant include:

  • Coriander or cilantro
  • Celery
  • Parsley
  • Basil

Seed Starting Substitutes To Soil

You might hate the whole idea of dealing with dirt at any gardening stage. In that case, you can use other soilless mediums for seed germination to supply the seeds with moisture, air, and support for the plant while avoiding transferring pests and diseases that are present in the soil.

Note: All of these mediums can be used as the growing medium in your hydroponic system as well.

Peat Moss

Peat moss, sphagnum moss, or bog moss is made from decomposed moss and is acidic. You can use this medium for germinating acid-loving plants like blueberries. Since it’s slow in decomposition, you can reuse it for many seed starting cycles.

Also known as sphagnum moss, you can benefit from its nutrient and water retention abilities. Its aerated structure adds the necessary constituents for successful germination and seedling growth. Moreover, compared to compost and soil, peat moss has fewer weed seeds, which reduce the competition for nutrients and leads to the fast growth of your seedlings.

Peat moss is ideal for small as well as large seeds. So if you wish to propagate spinach or kale, it won’t matter. You can do either with this medium.

Coconut Coir

Seeds love to be loose and get some water, and coco coir provides just that. It can be wet yet fluffy, so air and warmth can be passed to the seeds seamlessly.

If you hate the algae problems that you encounter with peat, coco coir should be your best germinating medium. However, keep in mind that you have to keep watering your seeds since coconut coir dries rapidly. You can also get the SpongEase Coco Coir Brick to propagate your seeds.

See how you can transplant from coco coir to a hydroponics system:

Perlite

This material is made from volcanic glass and is used in seed germination as well as hydroponics. It’s quite inefficient on its own since it dries up quickly, but you can use it with peat moss and other fine materials.

Just like other well-drained mediums, perlite:

  • Promotes aeration
  • Stimulates root development
  • Can get wet but not soggy
  • Has a neutral pH
  • Doesn’t hold pests and diseases
  • Is sterile, inert, and doesn’t decompose
  • Minimizes temperature fluctuation

If you’re thinking of using perlite in your hydroponics, you can also use it for seed germination as well. Since it doesn’t hold pests and diseases, you can transplant from perlite with confidence that nothing destructive will transfer to your hydroponic system. You can purchase the xGarden Horticultural Premium Perlite and get started with the seed propagation.

Vermiculite

If you want to plant water-loving plants, vermiculite would be a great choice to start your seedlings. It retains water well and is of neutral pH but often expresses alkalinity depending on the source.

Vermiculite can be used alone or with other mediums, and since it promotes nutrient uptake for the plants, expect fast growth of your seedlings. You can get this Professional Grade Vermiculite from Plantation Products.

Pumice

When you think of pumice, the air-filled perforations come to mind. Natural pumice is one of the wonders of nature that prove to be useful even in gardening. Apart from aeration, it drains well, promotes nutrient uptake and can be used without other mediums. Although it’s entirely organic, it doesn’t decompose as fast as coconut coir does.

Rockwool/Stonewool

In hydroponic gardens, Rockwool is widely used for seed starting. Along with its water retention abilities and sufficient aeration, it provides seed holes that make it easy to propagate seeds efficiently. Moreover, you can easily arrange even small seedlings without being scared of congestion.

However, Rockwool can get too soggy if overwatered, so you’ll need to handle it carefully to avoid inhaling the dust. This can be fixed by soaking the medium in a nutrient solution to moisturize it without wetting it. Get these Rockwool cubes and start your seeds beautifully.

Check out how to transplant from Rockwool to hydroponics:

Pre-Made Seed Starter Soilless Mix

Soilless seed starting mixes use a combination of some of the above mediums to achieve the best texture that stimulates fast germination and seedling growth. They take out all the guesswork and the stress you can encounter in choosing the best medium.

Here are the best soilless seed starting mixes you can choose from:

  • SuperRoot Booster: Stimulates root growth with its MycoActive Technology, so the seedlings grow much faster
  • Coast of Maine: Get a purely organic seed starting mix sourced from decomposed nutrient-rich living organisms from the coast of Maine
  • Jiffy-Mix: Made from peat moss, coco coir, and vermiculate, you’ll be confident about the results

DIY Seed Starter Soilless Mix

For those who prefer DIY, the good news is that you can make your soilless mix. You can take two mediums that complement each other’s characteristics and use them to make a mix of your desired texture.

To balance the aeration, drainage, and water retention, you can combine:

  • Coco coir, perlite, and vermiculite
  • Peat moss and perlite
  • Vermiculite and pumice

If the plants you need to propagate like acidic, neutral, or alkaline conditions, mix two ingredients that can provide them. Also, different seeds require varying drainage abilities, so keep that in mind when mixing your soilless mediums.

Setting Up Your Hydroponic System

Hydroponic farming attracts many gardeners, but starting can be overwhelming. “What medium should I choose? What system is best for the plants I want to plant? Should I buy fluorescent or LED lighting or both?”

To help you overcome the overwhelm, we chose to outline the various options you have so you can choose the best way to go about it. Let’s jump right in!

Determine the Hydroponic System You Want to Use

The hydroponic system is for getting the nutrients to your plants. You can use one method or combine many to form a hybrid system. You can feed your plants using any of the following hydroponic systems:

Deep Water Culture (DWC)

The DWC system is one of the easiest and most popular systems. It merely involves you suspending the plant roots in a reservoir full of nutrient solution for water, nutrients, and oxygen intake.

To avoid water going stale, you need an air pump and airstone to oxygenate the water. This means that, to start a hydroponic garden using the DWC method you need:

  • A reservoir.
  • Air pump.
  • Airstone.
  • Growing medium plus a chamber.
  • Plants.

Many beginners who try dipping their feet in hydroponics mainly start with the DWC method. You now know why — it’s super simple. You can get the highly-rated Deep Water Culture Hydroponic Bubbler Bucket Kit by PowerGrow Systems to start gardening too.

  • Easy and inexpensive to set up.
  • Efficient because of recirculation.
  • Low maintenance.
  • Difficult to apply in large scale setups.
  • Unsuitable for large plants.

You can see the DWC hydroponic method in action here:

Although the term hydroponics wasn’t discovered then, wick systems have been used in the past centuries to grow small plants.

This system is easy to build since it doesn’t need air pumps or water pumps. It simply involves a wick that supplies water and nutrients to the plants’ roots from a reservoir through capillary action. Therefore, perlite is one of the best mediums for wick systems since it doesn’t absorb too much of the nutrient solution.

An example of a reliable wick system is this Earth Brown Resin Raised Garden Bed Grow Box Kit with a self-watering system plus casters patio and deck gardening.

  • Easy to set up even for beginners.
  • When correctly set up, it’s entirely “passive.”
  • Unsuitable for larger plants.
  • If not set up correctly, it can quickly fail.

You can see a wick system and how it works here:

A drip system uses tubes to deliver water and nutrients from above. It’s commonly used in large scale operations commercially since it’s quite inefficient in small scale operations. You can also DIY a drip system using this Flantor Garden Irrigation System.

  • Easy to maintain.
  • Relatively inexpensive to set up.
  • Clogging of the tubing is common in drip systems.
  • Prone to algae development.

Witness how a drip system works here:

Ebb & Flow

Also known as a floor & drain system, this model works by flooding the growing area with the nutrient solution for a specified duration and draining it out. Appropriate intervals are set to ensure optimum nutrient and water absorption according to the plant size and overall environmental conditions.

If you’re hydroponically growing plants that like wet and dry cycles like tomatoes, the ebb and flow system is ideal. An example of an efficient ebb & flow system is the Giraffe-X Hydroponic Grow Kit that can be used indoors or outdoors.

  • Extremely easy to customize.
  • Efficient water and energy use.
  • If the pump or timer fails, the plants may suffer or die.

Watch how an ebb and flow hydroponic system works here:

Nutrient Film Technique(NFT)

Instead of complete root submersion in water like the DWC method, the NFT system only covers the tip of the roots with water, hence the word “film” in the name. Since the upper part of the roots is exposed to air, the roots develop faster and boost the plants’ growth.

If you’re interested in trying out NFT hydroponic systems, this DreamJoy Hydroponic Grow Kit will provide an exciting starting experience.

  • Efficiency because of recirculation.
  • Requires minimal medium.
  • Enhanced growth.
  • Pump failure can easily create massive crop loss.

Watch an NFT system work its magic here:

Aeroponic

Aeroponic systems are one of the most interesting hydroponic systems in the market. Instead of partial or complete submersion in water, this system sprays mist to the roots. It may use a spray nozzle or an ultrasound fogger like in humidifiers.

You can grow numerous plants using aeroponics with this vertical garden from Greenstalk.

  • Roots are more oxygenated.
  • Almost hands-free once set up.
  • In case of any failures, roots might quickly dry up.

See how an aeroponic system works here:

In Conclusion

Transplanting from soil to hydroponics requires extraction of the plant from the soil, cleaning its roots, and securing them in their new home. If you want to test the waters, start hydroponic gardening with the DWC method and work your way up to professional setups. It’s simple, especially when you transplant from soil to hydroponics.

Transplanting Seedlings: How to do it Correctly

If out of season or just fragile by nature, nurturing seedlings to maturity can be a difficult feat. The first three to four weeks of any plant’s lifecycle is often the most delicate and that fact can be compounded upon by uncertainties with climate. However, these considerations and difficulties can be eased by harboring seedlings in a safer environment and then moving them to their permanent residence – e.g. transplanting.

Transplanting is the process of moving a plant from one growing medium to another. The process gives gardeners the ability to nurture a seedling in a safe and controlled environment, away from unexpected hot or cold spells or seedling hungry pests, so it can establish itself. The grower then takes the plant, slowly introduces it to the elements of its more permanent home (sun, rain, temperature fluctuations).

Along with providing safety from elements, transplanting is often used to extend the growing season of a plant so a gardener can have a head start on production. For example, tomatoes are fairly cold-weather sensitive. If your area advises to plant them in early April, but you get ambitious, plant them outdoors in mid-March and your area has an unexpected cold snap at the end of March, there’s a good chance your seedlings die causing you to start growing all-over again. However, ambitions can live on if you start the seedlings indoors in mid-March, let them grow in a more controlled environment, and wait to transplant them outdoors until the likelihood of a cold snap decreases.

Yet, despite transplanting giving gardeners flexibility and plant germination safety, the process can come at a cost. Simply put, plants don’t like to be moved. The process of transplanting, if not done so with care and patience can kill the plant from what’s called, transplant shock.

Seeds and Seedlings

To germinate seeds, you will need a container large enough to house growing seedlings for a few weeks. Generally, 1.5 to 2 square inches of root growth (roughly the size of an individual egg crate section) is enough area to nurture a seedling. Ensure your container has good drainage with whichever option you choose and fill it with nutrient rich soil such as a potting mix or compost mixed soil — avoid using soil from your yard as it often contains weed spores and won’t be as nutrient rich and balanced for the seedlings. It may work, but with the small volume needed for the seedlings, you might as well opt for the good stuff.

Larger containers such as flower pots are a good solution for starting seedlings, however may be overkill in terms of size and soil volume. At GardenInMinutes, we personally like to use egg crates, as shown in the picture above. However, make sure to use the paper variety. Along with allowing for water to drain out, the beauty of the paper egg crate is that when transplanting time comes, you simply tear each slot off with the plant, place it in your soil, and the paper composts into the soil. More on that later, though.

When planting, reference the seed’s packet as it will identify germination time for the plant and recommended planting depth. Tomatoes for example are recommended to plant just a ¼ inch under soil. Allow the seed to grow indoors with frequent water and moderate amounts of direct sunlight or larger amounts of indirect sunlight. In roughly six weeks the seed will have transformed into a seedling; almost ready for transplanting.

When observing your seedlings, know the appropriate time to transplant your seedling will depend upon the development of true leaves as opposed to early leaves, known as cotyledons. Cotyledons are the first set of leaves a plant produces (often the first 1 to 3), true leaves on the other hand come after and are often darker and larger. After a few true leaves have formed, your plant should be ready to be transplanted.

Hardening Off

If you read one section on the appropriate process for transplanting seedings, read this one. Hardening off is the period of time where you begin to introduce your seedling to their future and permanent environment. It’s critical to the success of your plant once transplanted. If you’ve owned a fish tank you will know that you must slowly introduce any new fish to the temperature of the water as to not kill it from a severe temperature change – you’ll liken that experience to that of hardening off your plants.

Seedlings need time to adjust to their new environment before being transplanted and the best way to do that is to periodically increase the time they spend in it. Over the course of one to two weeks bring your seedlings outdoors for increased durations of time to allow them to become accustomed to the temperate, humidity, etc. When a plant is hardening off, its appearance may not change, but the cellular structure of its stem and leaves will adjust so that the plant can survive in a new environment. Prior to actually transplanting, the plant should be spending the majority of its day outside in its new environment. Without this step, the likelihood of your new seedlings surviving a transplant will be much lower.

Garden Preparation and Transplant Timing

While the plant is in the hardening off process, spend some time preparing environment that you plan to plant the seedling in. We recommend energizing the soil where you plan to plant by adding compost and fertilizer so there are plenty of nutrients for the young plant to consume.

After enriching your soil it’s technically ready for the new seedlings, however keep an eye on the soil’s temperature and the weather of the day you decide to transplant. If soil is still very cold it can shock the roots, so check the plant’s ideal growing temperature. If you’re in a heatwave and there isn’t a cloud in the sky, it could burn the plants and cause them to wilt. Ideally, you want to transplant on a mild, partly cloudy day – avoid extremes.

Transplanting

A few weeks have passed, the weather nice, your soil is nutrient rich, your seedlings have grown their first true leaves, and you’ve hardened off the plants – it’s time to transplant!

Bring your plants to your garden area and dig a hole suitable for them to fit in. Carefully remove the plants from their containers by pushing them out by loosening the soil and pushing on the bottom of the pot (if the pot is plastic and moveable). This is the gentlest way to remove a plant from its home, and helps ease the transition. You’ll want to maintain the root ball and any attached soil as best as you can. If using the paper egg crate as mentioned earlier, gently tear each egg slot away from the crate (at this point the paper should be fairly soft due to watering) while keeping the seedling intact, bring it over to your garden and gently tear the sides of the paper so roots can more easily grow through after setting the seedling and newly torn egg slot into the garden hole you’ve dug for it.

Place the plant into the hole and fill remaining space with the nutrient rich soil you dug out. Once firmly in place, drench the soil surrounding the plant with water – be cognizant not to wash the soil away from the plant. This reacts with water-soluble nutrients and the roots will reach out to grow in the new environment. If the plant exhibits signs of transplant shock – wilting, scorching, or yellowing of leaves – shade the plants intermittently from long hours of direct sunlight, but still try to maintain soil warmth. Shade the plant intermittently for a few days, water it well, and gradually reduce the shaded time until the plant begins to strengthen.

Transplant Shock

Transplant shock happens most often because of damage a plant sustains during the transplant process. If a plant’s roots or stem are harmed, the plant will lose nutrients and go into shock. Seedlings are delicate and in a critical time of growth, so this is why you have to be careful when transplanting them and make sure they’re hearty enough to survive the move.

Transplanting is a delicate process, but offers so many benefits to the gardening enthusiast. Remember to follow these simple steps: allow the seedling to grow indoors until true leaves appear, allow the seedling to harden over time, prepare the garden, transplant carefully, and watch for transplant shock symptoms for the first few days. Do those things and your plants will flourish long after the transplanting process is over.

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Bryan Traficante is one of the co-founders of GardenInMinutes.com, where his family and he have one mission: making it easier for you build and grow great garden. They’re the inventors of the Garden Grid watering system,crafters of modular garden beds, and share time saving gardening advice on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and their video series, aptly named Easy Growing. Read all of Bryan’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS postshere.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Published on Feb 28, 2017

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How to transplant vegetable seedlings

Whether you started seeds yourself or purchased vegetable seedlings at the store, now is the time to transplant seedlings in your garden.

10 simple steps to transplant

  1. Seedlings should be hardened-off, well-fed and watered before transplanting.
  2. Prepare a weed-free surface. Loosen and aerate garden soil by tilling or hoeing.
  3. Dig a hole large enough for seedling.
  4. Carefully remove seedling from its container. Try not to disturb the roots.
  5. Set seedling in hole level with soil surface. The exception is tomato seedlings, which can be transplanted a bit deeper.
  6. Feed seedling to kick start growth. I transplant each seedling with a hefty handful of compost. If you don’t make compost, purchase specially formulated fertilizer for transplanting.
  7. Surround seedling with displaced soil.
  8. Water seedling thoroughly.
  9. Mulch seedling to maintain soil moisture and regulate temperature.
  10. Keep area weed-free.

Top 3 tips for successful transplanting

Start with strong seedlings. If you start your own seeds, make sure your seedlings have plenty of light, adequate water and drainage. A good growing medium is critical for root establishment.

If you buy seedlings remember biggest doesn’t always mean best. Look for healthy and consistent leaf color. The roots should be deep, long, white and fibrous. The stem should be thick and strong. The growing medium should be held together by tight tangled roots. Do not choose leggy seedlings; too long of stem means the seedling was starved for light.

Hardening off is important. Don’t skip this step. Store bought seedlings are typically hardened off in the garden center, but seedlings you start need to be acclimated to the natural environment before transplanting.

Hardening takes 1-2 weeks. You can move seedlings to a cold frame for a week and then set in the garden an additional week. Or set seedlings out during warm daytime temps and bring them in at night.

Timing is everything. Frost-free dates and warm and cool weather crop temperature requirements for your growing zone are good guidelines. I also consider last season’s planting dates and the weather forecast.

Overcast days are great days to plant because cloud coverage reduces the probability of sun-scorching tender plants.