Saturday, May 23, 2009

Successful Transplanting of Soil Blocks Outdoors

Well, by now your soil blocks are probably busting out at the seams with all your
favorite spring starts. You will undoubtedly be wondering how to assure the success of the seedling, after watching it sprout and grow so vigorously in the soil block maker system.
We'll cover some crucial basics to transplanting soil blocks in the garden outdoors.
First, the best success comes from hardening off the seedlings. That means, get your pampered windowsill or greenhouse starts accustomed to the variable, drastic,
and changeable outside conditions. It begins by taking your flats or trays outside on a sunny day with little to no wind which will dehydrate the little guys. Bask them in the sun for about 2 hours, and then return to the comforts of the indoors. The next day, they will spend 3 hours, the next day, four. Keep doing this until they are successfully "hardened" by the sun, breeze, temperature, and changing elements.
This process should take a week, sooner if weather conditions are perfect, longer
if the weather has been inclimant. Some may say that this is an incredible amount
of labor or work. They may be right, but, I am batting 1000% with my transplants.
What I sow in the block, grows up and is harvested out of the field. No thinning,
no lapse in germination, no waiting for the right conditions in the garden, no transplant shock, and no stunting of growth. So, in the end, we'll all do the same amount of work, but will you have the same volume of produce harvested?
Second key to success is soil block moisture. They should be wet before being planted. The success of soil blocks depends more on their moisture level than the
outside garden. After a good night's saturated soaking, they'll be ready for transplanting the next night. Or, if they're really growing fast, soak a couple of hours before transplanting at night. Always transplant at night for best results because they'll use the whole night to get acquainted with their new home. Water only when the weather has been dry for a couple days after transplanting, and gauge the needs of your plants accordingly. With no transplant shock, they'll be growing very fast again.
The third success point is soil block depth and coverage. Plant your soil block deep. Deep enough so the entire block can be covered with soil. Firm all around the
block to squeeze out any air pockets, which can dry out a block faster than cut flowers in the desert sun. Always cover any bare stems right up to the first true leaves, even burying the seed leaf. That may suprise you, but you must trust me, PLANT DEEP.
And, finally, the best advice is timing. Use your gut feelings to predict the optimal time to transplant in the garden. If the weather turns sour, keep them sheltered for awhile before submitting them to the elements. If conditions are perfect and will remain so, try getting them out sooner than my recommened week of hardening off. Perfect conditions mean: moist air or humidity, a really good rain a few days ago, or a scheduled rain after transplanting, partly cloudy, partly sunny,(does anyone know the difference between the two?)no wind, barely a breeze, and believe it or not, 2 days before the New Moon, as this will pull their roots down and stimulate root growth, something to do with the tides and all that influence.
So, with these keys in hand, unlock the final stage of your successful soil block journey. I have taken you thus so far, the rest my friends is up to you.
See you 'round the fence post.

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