Market gardeners have a limited amount of space in which to grow food productively. Transplanting is a necessary practice to make the most of all the available space but comes at a cost. This is because an undisturbed plant not having been transplanted will in general develop better. Transplanting stunts the growth by cutting off all the plants vital supply lines, which it has to reestablish in its new environment.
In the garden, I have noticed many transplanted plants that have wilted as no extra precautions were taken to give the young plants their most favourable chance. I want to share the nine transplanting rules that Leonard Wickenden sets out in his book Gardening With Nature.
- Transplant in the evening or on a cloudy day. If you can so arrange it, do it on a day when the barometer is falling and the weatherman predicts rain on the morrow.
- Before disturbing the young plant, thoroughly prepare the soil in the new location. Rake it until it is finely pulverised and free from sticks and stones. If it is not already rich with compost, work plently in.
- At least an hour before moving, water the soil around the plants- unless it is already thoroughly moist.
- Push your trowel into the soil at the new location and, by pulling the handle towards you, make a hole large enough to accommodate the roots of the plant, with room to spare.
- Fill the hole and let the water soak in.
- Dig up the young plant with as much soil as possible adhering to its roots. Dig deep, dig wide.
- Place the plant in the hole prepared for it, hold it upright and push soil (or better still compost) into the hole until it is well filled. Press the soil firmly against the roots. This last is highly important. You must create the best contact possible between the soil clinging to the roots and the soil with which you fill the hole. Press hard.
- Give the roots of the plant a good drink of water.
- Shield the plant from the sun for a few days
Leonard writes “Observe these nine rules and your plants should come through without wilting and with a minimum of delayed growth.”
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