Gardening 101: Transplanting Seedlings Outdoors
In Part 1 of this series, we explained how to start your seedlings indoors and in this article, we’re going to tell you how to go about transplanting seedlings outdoors. Transitioning them from their indoor environment to the outdoors requires some preparation.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the process of beginning your adventure into gardening so far and we hope you’re excited to watch your seedlings grow! It won’t be long and you’ll be enjoying the fruits of your labor with mature, strong and healthy plants.
But, be warned! Transplanting seedlings outdoors is a gradual process. Don’t be fooled by that balmy Spring sunshine in March! It’s still too early! We could get frost right up until after the May long weekend. Putting those tender seedlings you’ve nurtured so carefully outdoors could end in disappointment if they are destroyed by frost or a chilly wind.
Before transplanting seedlings outdoors, you will need to acclimatize them to the new environment over time. About a week to 10 days before you plant on transplanting them outside, take the seedlings outside for a few hours a day. Make sure they’re in a sheltered spot . Begin them in dappled shade gradually moving them into the direct sun over this period. Remember to water them regularly as they will dry out quickly outdoors. This process is known as ‘hardening’ the seedlings.
After the hardening period, the seedlings are ready to transplant. Choose your time to do this carefully. Don’t transplant seedlings in the middle of a scorching hot day in full sunshine. They are still a little tender. Instead, plant them early in the morning (if we should be so lucky as to get scorching hot days at that time!) or choose a cloudy day.
Check whether your soil is ready to be planted, you can take a handful of it and try to make it into a ball. If it holds that shape, it’s too wet and you will have to wait for it to dry out a bit. If you make the ball and it crumbles, then the soil is ready. Chances are, you’ll be standing near or in the soil you’re testing. Check your footprints in the soil to see if they look shiny and wet. If they do, it’s still too wet.
If your soil appears to be ready for planting after you’ve done the tests described in Step 3, there are still a few more things that need to be done before you transplant those seedlings. (We did say it would take some time!)
Once the soil is ready, then use your garden fork to stir it up well to aerate it. Leave it ‘settle’ for several days.
As seedlings will do better when the soil temperature is warmer, raised beds may be a good idea. Creating a raised bed allows the sun to warm the soil around the roots more than if the seedlings are planted into flat ground.
Add compost or rotted manure to the soil. Check with your garden center for recommendations on which additives will be best for your seedlings.
Using a small trowel, create holes in which to plant the seedlings.
Phosphorus should be at the root level to ensure that the roots grow strong. This can be made available to the roots by placing a mixture of 15-30-15 starter fertilizer mixed with a gallon of water. The exact amount of the fertilizer should be determined by the type of seedling you’re planting, but will generally be either 1 or 2 tablespoons per gallon of water. Add a cup full of the mixture into each seedling hole you’ve prepared using a small trowel.
Plant the seedlings gently.
Water the seedlings well so that the moisture soaks down to the roots.
Add a layer of mulch over top of the soil to stop the moisture evaporating.
Now you know how to go about transplanting your seedlings outdoors! Great job!
Remember that we are here to help you with any of your questions or concerns. A little friendly advice goes a long way to ensure successful gardening, so don’t be shy… come in and chat with us!