Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Thinning and Transplanting

A series of cold fronts coming through dropped our low night temperatures into the mid 20'sF. While once again frustrating my dreams of a bountiful fruit crop this year, it is completely normal for high-desert weather in mid-May (and sometimes, even for mid-June, perish the thought). What little bit - lettuces, spinach, peas, and alliums - I have growing out in the vegetable garden seems to have come through ok so far.

I haven't set out my cole crops - broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, choi, radicchio, and tuscan kale - but plan to do so within the next week. Most catalogs say to plant very early for a Spring harvest; again in early August for a Fall harvest. I've never had any luck with that. I just plant everything once and hope to stretch the harvest season until October through varying the length of growth periods on some things (like cabbage - I plant both an early and a late variety), and cut-and-come-again harvests on others (like the kale and broccoli).

I did some thinning and transplanting of the cole seedlings a couple of weeks ago, writing about that here, on the SGF Co-op blog. Since then, I've been hardening them off - moving them out to the table on the deck daily, bringing them back in to the kitchen counter at night. I now have some sturdy little plants with separate, compact root balls to set out.

Yesterday, I thinned and transplanted my warm weather seedlings. Even though the night before had been cold, the temperature warmed up to a nice 60F. Overcast and still, with no bright sun or drying winds to crispify the roots, the operation took place outside on a big salvaged cable spool I use as a potting table. Even so, I tried to move quickly whenever I had the roots of any tiny seedling exposed. Some looked a bit poorly and limp as I moved them back inside, under the lights (my temporary setup: a pair of ladderback chairs, a plank, and lights suspended by a couple of curtain rods), but all had perked right up by this morning.

Some of my seeds never did germinate. I ended up shopping for a few plants this weekend - more bell peppers, plus some eggplants, Anaheim chiles, one Habanero chile, and one Sweet 100 tomato. To save money when I buy plants, I look for the little individual pots with more than one plant growing in them, and then separate them out myself, same as I do with my own seedlings. I'll give everything another week or so under the lights, to give the roots time to re-establish. Another week or two of gradually increasing hardening off out on the deck, and everything should be ready to set out in early June.


Nancy said...

It surprisingly dipped to 35 degrees here last night. Today I am transplanting seedlings. Such a strange year in weather. I wish you happy gardening this week and let;s hope no weather surprises.

Stephanie said...

I know that's cold for you - but I would love to have your climate...

Cool light set-up!