Grow your own food: planting out
Your seeds have burst into life and are looking like healthy little seedlings but they’re getting a little over crowded in their small pots, it’s time for planting out.
Planting out is when you carefully move your rooted seedlings from their starter pots into a prepared space in the ground or into their forever pot.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
- A prepared space in your garden or,
- Large outdoor pots
- Your seedlings
- Small watering can, hose with spray function or spray bottle
STEP BY STEP
1. Prepare your seedling’s new home
Your little seedling is going to need enough light and enough shelter from direct sun and strong winds so think about your spot carefully. If you are planting out in the ground make sure the space is weed-free, lightly dug over and free of big stones or any rubbish.
If you’re using a pot make sure your pot has holes at the bottom (an adult can help you make some if needed). Next line the bottom of your pot with gravel or stones so that water can drain easily through the holes. On top of the gravel fill your pot almost to the top with compost or topsoil.
2. Dig a hole
In either the ground or your pot, dig a hole wide enough and deep enough to fit your seedling’s rootstock (the ball of roots under the plant) comfortably. If you have multiple seedlings to plant out space your holes apart so each seedling has room to grow. Different types of plants will need a different amount of space. A quick look online will help you decide how much space your seedlings need.
3. Release your seedlings
Release your seedlings. This can be a bit fiddly because your baby plants are so fragile. An old spoon is great for helping you scoop out your seedlings from the pot. If all your plants come out together, that’s ok, you can carefully pry the roots apart. When handling small seedlings a good trick is to hold the plants by a leaf rather than risking damaging the fragile stem.
4. Pop in your plant
When your plants have been separated drop one of the plant’s roots first into the hole you’ve created and carefully squish the soil around it. You can now add a little more soil around the base of the seedling to give the stem some stability.
5. Support your plant
If your plant is a climber like peas or beans or if it’s going to grow very tall like tomatoes or sunflowers you might need to provide something for it to climb up or lean against. A bamboo cane is perfect for this but if you don’t have one a strong, straight stick is also great, maybe you have one in your pruning pile from earlier in the year?
Your little seedling now need a good drink. Be careful though, the stems and leaves are still fragile so don’t flood it too quickly. Use a small watering can, a hose with a spray setting or a spray bottle.
7. Regular watering
Your seedling is going to need gentle watering regularly, especially in hot weather. The best way to tell if your young plant is thirsty is to poke your finger gently into the soil. If it feels dry add some water, if not, leave it for another day or two.
Early morning or evening is the best time of day for watering. But if a plant is starting to wilt it’s worth watering, just try to avoid wetting the leaves (water droplet sitting on the leaves can act like magnifying glass and on a sunny day leaves run the risk of getting burned).
8. Wash your hands
There are lots of different types of bacteria in soil, so after handling it, it is important to wash your hands