“You will want to transplant after the first true leaves have grown.” Tamara McNaughton.
Transplants are when you plant an individual seed into a seed bed cell and then transplant the growing plant into the ground about a month or so later. Only a few crops in the Organic Growers Group can be seeded directly into the ground, such as squash.
When growing organically for wholesale markets in a growers group, it’s highly recommended that you transplant your seeds from either a community flat or a seed packet into individual cell beds. This isn’t required, but it’s highly recommended. Just like it’s highly recommended that you increase your soil organic matter, utilize cover crops, use drip irrigation, and lay down black plastic. Doing all of these things will improve the quality of your produce, maximize productivity, help manage weeds and reduce your labor time.
Appalachian Harvest will be able to order seeds for you but they won’t start your transplants. Don’t let this discourage you. In our corresponding video, we join Tamara McNaughton at TNT Farm N Greenhouse in Meadowview Virginia to see how this process works.
There are plenty of benefits when deciding to grow transplants. The first of which is, it will extend your growing season. You will get at least a month’s head start in getting your produce growing if you seed them in individual seed beds and let them establish themselves in a greenhouse. Your transplants will be more resistant to insects and pests and will have a better chance of handling any nearby weeds.
They will also be better suited for the elements, as long as you harden them off. This means that you slowly start exposing them to the elements during the day and bringing them back in at night. Transplants can also reduce the amount of water waste in the early stages of development. This will also save you on watering if you were to direct seed them instead. Transplants can also help in succession planting and will let you harvest the same produce from different crops throughout the growing season.
If you decide to make your own soil mix like Tamara, refer to document 6.04 for approved inputs. Also keep in mind that certain seeds need warmer temperatures to germinate and a heating pad may be needed.
Now there’s a lot that can happen in your greenhouse while your plants are establishing themselves before going into the ground. For our next episode/blog, we will take a look at what can happen in this time, as well as ways to manage pests and diseases.
Derrick Von Kundra