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.

2 comments:

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!