In the last week, I’ve planted out my broad beans and begun hardening off the peas. The weather is warming up and all of a sudden, my beds are starting to become home to plants all over again.
Exciting times, but only if things go to plan. Planting out can be tricky and your plants need your love at this vital time in their growing up.
Here are 12 tips I use when planting out.
Remember to harden off
Hardening off means getting any indoor grown seedlings acclimatised for their new position in open ground. As the weather warms up, move the plants outside during the day, and bring them back in overnight. After about 10 days, leave them out for a few days until planting.
Pick your weather!
Generally, the best time to plant is when the weather is overcast, rain is predicted to follow and no frosts are forecast.
Don’t expose your plants to too much sun or strong winds when they first go out.
Water before planting
Watering your plants beforehand will help keep the soil compacted around the roots when you get them out of their pots.
Prepare the planting area
Remove all weeds best you can, and don’t forget the roots! Break up any large lumps of soil with a hoe.
Work out your spacing
Make sure you’re going to put your plants in the ground with enough room for them to grow properly. Check the seed packets for recommended spacing.
Prepare the hole first
Get your holes dug before you take a plant out of the pot. It’s amazing how quickly some plants can sulk about that. Keep the plants nicely shaded and protected until you’re ready to put them in their hole.
Be careful taking the plant out of its pot
These are your babies! Take care with them!
I’m naturally a clumsy bugger, and many a seedling has met a traumatic end under my stewardship. However, I’m much better and have found the best way to get the plant out of its pot is to hold the pot in one hand, turn it upside down and tap the bottom a few times.
This should loosen the whole thing and a gentle shake will release the plant into your free hand.
Be careful when handling the seedlings
Once out of the pot, I find handling the plant around the root ball, or where the most soil is holding on, is the safest place.
Don’t pick up by the stem, as this is the weakest spot.
Plant in a recess
I learnt this trick off my mum when we were planting out squashes and now I use it for loads of other plants, such as cucumbers, courgettes and chillis.
By planting in a recess, the water stays around the base of the plant, where it’s needed most. This is a neat way of combatting water run off on hard soil surfaces.
You also don’t need to water as much, as the moisture will stay in the recess.
How deep do you I plant?
A good rule of thumb is plant the seedling at about the depth it was in the container. For extra security, I normally go a little bit deeper and cover about a centimetre up the stem.
Add some goodness around the roots
I toss a trowel full of compost or leaf mould into the hole I’ve dug to give the root a little boost. I’ve also used bonemeal too.
Keep well watered whilst roots develop
Don’t forget, your seedlings need you after they’ve been planted out! Keep an eye on them, especially in dry weather. They’ll need regular watering to ensure the roots grow strong.