Transplanting vegetable and flower seedlings used to be more traumatic than it is now. Cabbage, tomato, and broccoli seedlings were pulled bare-root out of nursery beds and kept alive, if transplanting was delayed, with their roots merely wrapped in moist newspaper.
These days, peat pots and plastic cell packs keep seedling roots intact and in soil. Yet attention still is needed to the details of transplanting.
A small transplant does not need to be planted in a hole the size of a washbasin; make it just large enough to accommodate the roots. Tease apart the roots of plants grown in plastic cell packs to encourage them to grow out into their new home. Break up the top of peat pots so they are not exposed after planting and wicking water up and out of the ground.
Drop your plant into the waiting hole, then pour in a half-quart of water. The water ensures that there is moist soil right up against the roots. Now brush the soil back into the hole and firm it.
Drying and cutworm damage are the major hazards confronting transplanted seedlings. Avoid drying by transplanting late in the day or on an overcast day. Then roots have at least a few hours to grow before the plant is exposed to the full fury of midday sun.
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