Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Shock & wilt free transplanting -- The failures

This summer I've been trying different methods to transplant squash and cucumber plants with absolutely no shock or wilting, no matter how hot it is.

Mostly now I plant these from seeds directly in the ground, since the transplants usually die or don't do as well as direct seeded ones. But with a garden with only afternoon sun, it takes a long time for them to mature and they usually need shading for awhile.  I lose probably 3 weeks compared to gardens with morning sun in my area.

This post will be about the failures, the next post will have an
initial successful method that I'm quite excited about.

First tried soil blocks as I read they transplant well.  Also I observed that seedlings growing in soil blocks don't wilt.  On this almost 100 degree day, these plants are not wilting!  Whereas almost every other plant in my garden is wilting.

I figured it must be the great root system the soil block plants grow.  And also using the wood wafer for wicking allowed enough water with enough aeration (just like the stumppot).
This squash was planted directly in the ground and it wilted. Needed shade for almost 2 weeks. But it did survive and is doing well.

Next I thought, maybe I should bury the wood wafer also when transplanting, then like the vertical hugelkultur, it will wick enough water to prevent wilting
This cucumber plant was planted in the ground on top of its wicking wafer.  It did better, but it still wilted and needed shading.

Here is the cucumber about 2 weeks later still being shaded. It did survive nicely and doesn't need shade now.

Next tried planting an eggplant directly on top of a stump in the ground. Since this is what I did in the stumppot.  And in the container stumppot the eggplant never has wilted.
Unfortunately, this eggplant wilted also and needed shade.  I believe it wilted (whereas the stumppot one didn't) because it was planted right during a 90+degree heatwave.  It didn't have enough time to develop a root mass over the stump before the heat hit.  It is doing ok now without shade. It will be interesting to see how it grows the rest of the season.

Another failed trial was taking a soil block plant and planting it only half deep. The reasoning was that the upper part of the soil block would still get great aeration.
This picture shows it wilting also.  It wilted because the top exposed peat moss part dried out completely, even though the ground is wet.  This is a problem with peat. Even the peat soil block plants that were completely covered with dirt when transplanted in the ground, had the peat dry out some.  I'd stick my finger in the ground to feel around.  The clay soil all around the peat soil block would be wet, but the peat soil block would be dry.  The clay would just suck all the water out of the peat block.

Summarizing the failures:

1.  Peat soil blocks totally covered in soil when transplanted.
2.  Peat soil blocks partially covered in soil when transplanted.
3.  Peat soil block on top of wood wafer, totally covered with soil when transplanted.
4.  Store bought seedling transplanted directly on stump.  Seedling root block totally covered with soil.
5.  Store bought seedlings transplanted in a 15-gallon air-pot container (pictures not shown).

 Next post:  The shock and wilt free transplanting success.

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