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Transplanting - Cover with buckets/pots to help seedlings adjust

 
Travis Philp
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Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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This came up in another thread but I thought it deserved one of its own.

It's a pretty simple idea and I've seen it work really well for transplanting potted plants into the ground, and works especially well when moving plants from one part of a garden to another (eg. thinning plants growing too close in rows). I've seen some pretty good transplant rates from thinnings of squash, kohlrabi, strawberries and cucumbers.

Basically all you do is cover the transplant for a few days (usually 2-3) and then remove it. It may require more time in warmer climates than mine. Once you see the plant either start to lean to one side, produce new growth, or turn yellow, its time to take the cover off. Its probably best to do so in the early morning, late evening, or during a cloudy/rainy day.

Make sure to use a light coloured cover. Something that will reflect sun rather than absorb it. Black and dark green, even light green coloured pots either fried my plants, or at least did much more poorly than buckets and plant pots white or beige. I've tried using clear pop bottles but that just fried my transplants. 

I've also found it best to use something that is big enough so that plant leaves aren't touching the cover. In my experience, the ones that are touching there covers don't do as well.

It may be beneficial to 'ween' them off the pot so-to-speak, so that instead of removing it for good, you take it off for only a few hours one day, and increase a few hours every day until you've reached a full sun cycle. I'm too lazy/busy to be that technical about it but I do monitor my transplants for a few days after I remove its cover if the weather is warm and sunny, as it can make them wilt severely, and sometimes die. In these cases I put the cover on during the peak sunny times in the middle of the day and take it off in the early evening.




 
Travis Philp
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Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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"But where do I get all these covers?" You ask?

I get white pots from garden centers. Those hanging basket types are good.

I get buckets from restaurants. Mostly from fish n chip places or chicken shacks. They often get their cooking oil in big white buckets. Bakeries or home wine making places might be another place to check out

Also, save up your yogurt and large margarine containers cuz those work well too.

I've used cardboard boxes a few times and they worked as well but I wonder if they might absorb too much moisture in really hot weather. 


 
Roger Merry
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I've used horticultural fleece over seedlings - that works really well - old net curtains are the recycled alternative 
 
Jeff Mathias
Posts: 125
Location: Westport, CA Zone 8-9; Off grid on 20 acres of redwood forest and floodplain with a seasonal creek.
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Hi Travis,

I do something similar here in the summer. It is too hot and with no water without supplementing nothing germinates, however I have noticed once we get past the extreme hot season it is more like spring again and we don't get frost until usually late December or later. I have some corn just about ready by doing this, around here corn is done about mid August.
By starting plants inside during those hot days when nothing will germinate I have effectively added a second spring like growing season to my routine.
When I transplant I try to plant them when we get some cloud cover or a foggy day but when that doesn't work I will plant them and cut back something larger or overgrowing and use the cuttings to shade the new transplants. The cuttings shade the transplants but they also release their moisture as they dry out and die over and around the transplants which helps the transplants with heat stress getting started. Also as the cuttings slowly dry out and the leaves curl up more light is slowly exposed to the transplants. This works best if I can help out with extra water but with just some extra mulch around the transplant I have had success even on 100+ days. 

I stumbled on this method by accident one summer. We were going on vacation and I had a bunch of plants that needed transplanting or they would not survive until we got back. In desperation I planted everything thinking this way they had a shot anyway. It was so hot that day I knew if I didn't do anything not much would make it, so I cut a bunch of grape vines and other shrubs that needed cutting back and worked them in around the transplants and left. I never even got a chance to get a second watering in. When we got back few if any of the transplants died and most seemed to be thriving since they had a little extra shade.

I also use buckets but more for retaining moisture for more sensitive plants. In the winter I often use old aquariums to help retain heat until the seedlings get going enough to be on their own.

Jeff
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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I have traditionally done most of my transplanting in the early morning (hopefully a grey, cool day).  But lately, I have been doing it late afternoons.  Once the shade has moved to a section of the garden, the plants go dormant for the night.  A dormant plant is much less likely to suffer transplant shock than is an actively growing plant.  They have all night to get used to their new ground before they begin growing again in the morning.

 
Travis Philp
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Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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I agree John. Late afternoon is best, though its not always feasible if you're running on a large scale
 
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