We felt now was a good time to talk about planting seedlings. Many gardeners have spare plants growing on at this time of year- either unexpected success in germinating seeds, or insufficient space as young plants grow rapidly. Perhaps you have a few young veg plants that you’re growing elsewhere in the garden, or have been donated from a friend or neighbour, and you’re wondering whether you could plant them in your Vegepod.
The short answer is - yes!
The longer answer is, as usual, a little more complicated…
Firstly, technique is key, so a few do’s and don’ts.
- Move plants in the middle of the day in hot, bright sun – they can quickly dry out and die
- Disturb the roots of the young plants more than absolutely necessary – try to keep a nice root-ball of undisturbed compost/soil round them
- Plant too high - the rough rule of thumb is plant a little lower than the original soil/compost surface
- Firm in well to stop the plants toppling over – but be careful not to crush delicate roots
- Water in well and keep well watered until established, especially in warm weather, when daily watering may be needed initially
- Keep in mind the eventual size of the plants – for example some cabbages can grow to a very substantial size!
Secondly, it really pays to know which veggie plants don’t mind being re-planted and which react badly. Usually, younger plants tolerate transplanting far better than established plants, and pot-grown plants are easier to establish than bare-root transplants. However, some vegetables simply hate being moved and rarely perform even if moved very carefully. These include most root veg, such as carrots, beetroot and parsnips. Others, such as spinach, leaf beet and coriander will often run to seed (‘bolt’): rather than giving lots of lush leaves, they respond to the shock of transplanting by trying to flower, and it becomes a losing battle to try to stop them.
Others are far more forgiving - bean and pea seedlings can do well if still very young and they’re moved carefully, young lettuces are fine as long as they don’t dry out, and pot grown tomatoes and peppers love the extra space and nutrients (remember to stake them, depending on the variety). Anything in the cabbage family, including broccoli and cauliflowers, and all the ‘Cucurbits’ – that is, cucumbers, melons, courgettes, squash and pumpkins, are great if moved as young plants.
It’s often worth transplanting a few more plants into your pod than you’ll need but be ruthless in thinning them out so you don’t end up with weak and spindly growth from overcrowding.