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Vegetable garden for beginners: starting your plants (part two)

By Edited Oct 26, 2015 0 0

The next step is to take the seedling by the stem between your thumb and forefinger. With a round pointed stick or dibber (or just with a finger of your other hand) make a hole deep enough for the roots and about half the length of the stem. As the seedling pops into place, pinch the earth firmly around the roots and stem with your thumb and forefinger so that the plant sticks up firmly and may not be easily pulled out. With a little practice this will become easy. Transplanting to larger trays or pots will give the plants more room to grow as they get bigger.

Once you have transplanted your seedlings, water them when the soil gets on the dry side. It's key at this stage to give the plants as much air as possible while maintaining the required temperature. Whenever it's warm enough, strip off the sash of the frame and allow the rain to get at your plants.

If you are growing tender plants like cabbage or lettuce and these get frozen, do not despair. To revive them, shade the plants completely from the sun and drench them with very cold water. This will give them a chance to recover.

Hardening off: for five days to a week before planting your vegetables into your garden, they should be 'hardened off'. If your plants have been given plenty of air, this will mean little change for them. Simply expose your plants a little more each day, until for a few nights they are left entirely without protection. They will then be ready for setting out in the open.

Starting plants outside 
Much of the above also works for starting plants outside, for example, for second crops like celery. You should choose the most smashed up spot for your seedbed and ensure it's enriched with fine manure. Mark off rows around a foot apart, sow the seed evenly, firm in if the soil is dry, cover with the back of a rake and smooth with the back of a spade. The seed should begin to push through from between four to twenty days time. At all times, make sure the seed bed is kept clear of weeds and keep the soil between the rows cultivated. Unless it is very dry, watering will not be needed but if it is required water thoroughly towards evening.

With cabbage, celery and similar plants, it will make them more sturdy to cut off the tops (about half of the large leaves) once or twice after the plants have grown to about six inches.

If you follow the above guidance, come planting time you will have a good supply of good, healthy plants ready to plant into your carefully prepared vegetable garden.

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