Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How to Grow Bullet Proof Transplants

How to grow bullet proof transplants. We start our transplants in mid March or early April. We use sunny window for the first several weeks (You can also use fluorescent lights to start plants, cheap shop lights work just fine). When the plants have their first two true leaves the plants are gradually transitioned to the outside. We have a sunny porch on the east side of the house where we harden off the baby plants.

The plants are then left out in the sun, wind and rain from this time on. This results in very stocky robust plants that are field ready.  When the plants have 4-5 leaves they are potted up to 4 inch pots ready for market or for field. We prepare plants for market in exactly the same way we do it for planting in our own fields. Plants will typically double in size in 7-10 days.

Our plants are way more hardy than those from the local green houses. Typically the green house grown plants are tall, lush and lanky. When transplanted to garden or field conditions they need to be protected and often suffer severe set-backs in growth. They will eventually recover but are usually set back by a couple of weeks.

We make our own potting mix from our own compost, peat, pearlite and a small charge of organic fertilizer. The mix is light weight disease free and works very well with small plants. The potting mix is available for sale at our booth at the farmers market.

Beyond the initial fertilizer charge which lasts two weeks we typically fertilize the plants with a dilute mix of fish emulsion. We water with this mix once every week.

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