Avoiding Plant Transplant Trauma
by Sandy Swegel
You’ve done all the work of getting little seedlings started. Maybe you’ve already hardened them off. Now, planting them in your garden has a few tricks that can make a big difference in how many vegetables you get to eat.
“Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner” was one of the things I learned from a “mature” gardener who took pity on me when he saw the pitifully few tomatoes I had in my first garden. This was something taught by the great biointensive gardener, Alan Chadwick. His idea was that if you raised little seedlings in nice light soil with fertilizer, like most of our seedling mixes, and then put it into hard not too fertile garden soil, the plants did poorly. Instead, he advocated starting seeds in a flat with a good planting mixture, “Breakfast.” Then he transplanted into a second flat of fresh soil for “Lunch.” Finally, he treated his plants to “Dinner” when he put them in his loamy, fertile intensive beds. The plants got over their transplant trauma because they were so happy about all the yummy things in their new home.
Transplanting your veggie starts like this actually stimulates new growth. So before you plant your loved and coddled transplants, make sure the soil in their new home has compost and fertilizer and the soil has been loosened up so little roots can find their way. And make big holes. No fair hurrying up to get the plant in the ground and just carving out a spot only as big as the pot you’re planting. You can see in the photos how big vegetable roots can be…you need to make sure that the whole root zone has good soil with nutrients.
Lots of food and minerals in well-composted soil will make your vegetables give you bountiful food!
For more info on “biointensive” gardens, I recommend the garden bible I use every year: “How to Grow More Vegetables” by John Jeavons. His techniques really work.