Transplanting Seedlings into Your Southern Maryland Garden
March, April, and portions of May are the perfect time for transplanting seedlings into your garden in southern Maryland. For an exact timeline of when the perfect time for each type of plant that thrives in south Maryland is you can look up a planting calendar like the one found at Farmer’s Almanac.
Here are some tips for Transplanting Seedlings into Your South Maryland Garden
Transplanting is the process of taking seedlings (small sprouts or plant starts grown from seed) from their small planters and placing them into the garden in your yard. You can obtain seedlings either from growing a plant from seeds yourself or by purchasing what is most often called plant starts from a local nursery. There are many great local nurseries in southern Maryland.
Some plants are pretty difficult to plant on your own from seed and are best purchased as a plant start from the nursery, especially if you are just starting out on your gardening journey. These include things like tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers. For more advice on what is easiest to plant in southern Maryland from seed or starter plant it is a good idea to visit a local nursery and take advantage of the gardening knowledge. There are also some plants that just do not like to be transplanted at all and are better off starting from a seed directly planted in the ground.
The Best Time to Transplant
The best time for transplanting a seedling depends upon the particular plant. Some plants thrive in cooler seasons and some thrive in intense heat. Soil temperature is important as well.
So, make sure you check out a planting calendar.
Preparing the Soil
To prepare your garden to receive its new plants you want to first loosen and aerate the soil. It is not uncommon for garden soil to become compacted during the winter. Make sure to loosen and aerate the soil before placing plant starts/seedlings in the garden. You also want to get rid of rocks and weeds. You want to work the soil where you are planting to about a shovel length of depth. This all allows the soil to drain well and retain moisture and also helps the roots of your plants to grab hold and go deeper.
Raising Soil Temps
Anything you can do to help make the soil retain heat and lessen the impact and shock of cold soil on your new tiny plants is helpful. Some strategies you can use to raise soil temperature include using black plastic or landscaping fabric across the planting area a few weeks before you plant.
Try Not to Walk in the Soil
Walking across the soil compacts it back into the state it was in before all of the prep work. This makes it difficult for the small roots of starter plants to dig into the soil as well as receive water and air.
Preparing Your Starts while Still in Planters
While your seedlings are still inside in their starter pots do not fertilize them. You also want to water them less often to get them used to be outside.
About 7 to 10 days before you transplant set your seedlings outside in an area with dappled shade cover away from the wind for a few hours a day. Increase the amount of time and exposure to the wind and sun each day as you get closer to transplanting to help condition them to the area they will soon live. Make sure the soil stays moist the entire time.
Taking Your Plants from Pots to Soil in 10 Steps
First, check soil moisture. You want to make sure that the soil is not overly wet or too dry to dig in. Your soil should be just barely wet not soaking wet. You want to water the soil very deeply the day before you plan to transplant. If the soil is too dry it will pull moisture from your plant roots and damage your plants.
Second, make use of a rake and create a smooth and level surface.
Third, dig a hole just bigger than the root ball or root system of the plant and make sure the depth is the same length as your roots.
Fourth, turn your pot upside down supporting the soil inside of the seedling pot with your other hand making sure you do not crush the top of your plant. Top the bottom of the pot to help the ceiling drop out.
Fifth take your plant and place it in the hole at the same depth it was growing inside the pot. That should give you the ability to cover the roots of the seedling with a quarter-inch of soil at the very top of the root system where it meets the green part of the plant.
Sixth, tamp down the soil around your plant gently to make sure that the roots get good contact with the new soil.
Seventh, soak the soil around your brand-new plants immediately after placing them into the garden to help settle the roots and illuminate any air pockets as well as reduce any potential for the shock to your new plant in its new home.
Eighth, a couple of days post-planting check up on your seedlings and give them some starter fertilizer to make sure that phosphorus is available to the root system. You can do this by mixing 2 tablespoons of 15 – 30– 15 starter fertilizer into a gallon of water.
Ninth, if the weather is dry make sure to spread some mulch to reduce any moisture loss.
Tenth, make sure to keep a close eye on the weather forecast and watch out for any potential frost and be able to plan to protect your new plants accordingly. You can do so with cloths, cold frames, or sheets made for this purpose. You want to remove these protective coverings every morning.
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