Direct sew vs transplants

Most people who garden know there are two ways that you can get plants to grow. The first way is direct sew where you take a seed, put it in the ground and it grows there until maturity. The second way is transplanting, this is where a seed is placed in a soil block or seed starting mixture, the seed grows and when it is warm enough outside and the plant is ready, you put the plant into the ground. Right now we are in both stages. Most of our transplants are started inside, but we are starting to get into the direct sewing stage as well.

This week we are direct sewing a lot of vegetables: leafy greens (lettuce, spinach, etc.), carrots and peas.

For direct sewing, this is where I like to complete some bed preparation. I pull any weeds that I see. I broadfork the soil, if I am planting a root crop (like carrots), so that they will grow nice and deep since the soil is loose for them. I finally pull back the woodchips and plant the seeds in their rows. Don’t forget to see package directions for seed depth, as each seed likes to be planted a certain depth. A rule of thumb for seed depth I once heard, was 4x the seeds size is how far down to go.

^^^Lettuce spot this year^^^           ^^^Dragon carrots planted here

This week, we are also putting our table onions (a small onion put in the ground before it is growing, not a sweet onion) in the ground. The sweet onion bunches are also at Jack and Dick’s feed store so we may go purchase those this week to put in either later this week or next week.

This year I also have put up my portable greenhouse, which should hopefully help with growing the transplants.

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Lastly, we are hardening off some of our transplants to go outside (cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, and broccoli)- we were going to do this last week but it proved too cold for my little seedlings. To harden off our plants, we do a very gradual movement to outside. We start with a few hours on the front porch (so they can get exposed to the temperatures and the wind a little bit). We move to the whole day on the front porch, then outside for half a day, then a full day outside in trays. Once we know they can stay outside the whole day, we do one more day completely outside. This hardening off works for me, as I always panic a little bit about finally transplanting and losing all the work of growing these seedlings. This method helps me to watch some conditions: how quick are they drying out, are they becoming wilty, are they being burned up by the sun, etc. I am then confident if they come in looking good each day, that they can handle the wind, rain amounts, sun, etc. When all of that hardening off is complete, I know they can go into the garden and survive.

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I am excited we are finally having great planting weather and I plan to take full advantage of this week! Happy planting!

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